Sean Dyche frustrated as Burnley boss struggles to boost Prem survival bid
Burnley are back. Sean Dyche masterminded a quick return to the Premier League following relegation in 2014-15.
Here's a look at the Clarets' 2016-17 campaign. Can they survive this time?
At a glance
Championship winners Burnley do not look equipped for Premier League survival without major investment.
Premier League: 19th
FA Cup: Fifth round
League Cup: Fourth round
Burnley's transfer business has been minimal, with more young players added to the development squad than to their first-team. Nick Pope and Johann Berg Gudmundsson -- both snapped up from relegated Charlton Athletic -- are the only two senior arrivals, with Pope expected to be third-choice goalkeeper behind Tom Heaton and Paul Robinson. Gudmundsson should have more impact, with the Iceland international impressing at Euro 2016. The versatile attacker racked up six goals and 11 assists for a poor team last year and he has the work rate desired and demanded by manager Dyche.
Key defender Michael Keane has been retained despite strong interest from champions Leicester City, with a bid of £15 million reportedly turned down for the 23-year-old centre-back, who appears unwilling to extend his contract at Turf Moor, which runs to 2018.
A series of attempts to bolster central midfield after last year's star man Joey Barton joined Rangers at the end of his one-year contract have failed, with Derby County rejecting three offers for Jeff Hendrick and Brighton turning down the same number of bids for Dale Stephens
Dyche appears to be growing more frustrated by the lack of transfer activity at the club, pointing the finger of blame firmly at the door of the chairman, Mike Garlick.
The loss of sporting director Frank McParland, who was instrumental in bringing Andre Gray and Barton to Turf Moor last August, appears to have left a chasm, with no proven transfer negotiators left at the club. McParland is now working in a similar role at Rangers and he will have been a big influence on Barton's decision to join the Glasgow club. Bringing in at least one new high-class central midfielder is a must for Burnley before the big kick-off.
Dyche has questions of his own to answer too. Despite romping to the Championship title with a stunning 23-game unbeaten run spanning the entire second half of the season, Dyche's solid 4-4-2 formation may be too obvious and unchanging for success in a higher league, with his tactical inflexibility one of the factors in Burnley's relegation from the Premier League two years ago. The 45-year-old was slightly more daring in his use of substitutes last year, though, which bodes well for the new season, while 4-4-2 worked reasonably well for Leicester City last year.
Burnley did not score enough anywhere near goals in their last Premier League campaign and the same issue could hinder Dyche's team again this time. Beyond the first choice strikeforce of Sam Vokes and Gray there is a serious lack of quality in the squad, especially as first reserve Ashley Barnes could miss the start of the season with a hamstring injury.
Dyche must be considering signing a new forward as his alternative attacking options, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Chris Long and Rouwen Hennings, do not look likely to have much impact on the Premier League, if any whatsoever.
The decision to switch fixtures with Liverpool due to expansion work at Anfield could also come back to haunt the Clarets. A good start to the season is a must with five of their opening seven fixtures now taking place at Turf Moor, but Burnley now face a tough spell of six weeks without any home games in the spring, spanning a run of four successive matches on the road that is sure to test the squad at a vital time of the season.
One to watch
Gudmundsson looks to be a perfect fit for Dyche, with the 25-year-old able to play on either flank or off the striker as a No. 10, a role which may be vital if the manager opts for a change from his usual 4-4-2 formation, while his willingness to track back and work hard for the team will certainly endear him to supporters.
Gudmundsson might start the new season on the bench but he is likely to force Scott Arfield or George Boyd out of the team quickly if he can make an impact as a substitute. Gudmundsson's directness and eye for goal could see him shine in the top-flight this year.