After going into the 2013/14 Championship campaign as many punters’ fancies to be relegated, Burnley’s remarkable surge into the second tier’s automatic promotion places under former Chesterfield and Millwall centre-half Sean Dyche rates quite the achievement.
Dyche found himself on the scrap-heap following an impressive first season in management two years ago, when he led Watford to their highest league finish since 2007/08, but was replaced with Gianfranco Zola by the Hornets’ new owners the Pozzo Family.
Fate handed Dyche a leg-up when Eddie Howe left Turf Moor for his old job as Bournemouth coach three months later, with the Kettering native taking over in October and leading his new side to 11th in the Championship.
Despite having to sell 25-goal top scorer Charlie Austin to QPR at the end of the campaign, Burnley finished higher than 22 of their 23 competitors last term – including the well-funded Super Hoops – and now take their place amongst the Premier League elite for only the second time.
Dyche has spent a relative pittance this summer, but the 43-year-old’s signings so far may prove as shrewd as any made by his seasoned top-flight rivals.
Versatile former West Ham and Portsmouth man Matt Taylor was one of the Irons’ most consistent performers in the second half of last season, while Steven Reid may not be at the level he was when linked with Manchester United in the mid-noughties, but the 33-year-old still has a few miles in his legs.
Marvin Sordell, Michael Kightly, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Matt Gilks all have previous Premier League experience and their presence should help bring the best out of rising Turf Moor stars such as forward Danny Ings – who notched 21 league goals last term – and right-back Kieran Trippier.
With regard to Dyche’s tactics, the now-famous ‘Ginger Mourinho’ moniker seems an ill fit for a manager who stated at the start of last term, with reference to his time in Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest youth team:
“…one thing I learned was the players have to have enough flexibility to be themselves…If you give them too much, I think it’s very difficult to follow.”
This sounds as far removed from the incumbent Chelsea chief – who clearly insists on every player being in his right place at all times – as it gets, but that shouldn’t put anybody off backing Burnley to remain a Premier League team through 2015/16 at 6/5.
Dyche has defied the odds once with some style, and if Burnley can avoid losing their much-lauded young manager during this season – which they failed to do in their only other doomed attempt at Premier League survival five years ago – then they stand a live chance of keeping in with the big boys.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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