Burnley are a meat and two veg kind of football team, with eleven blokes out there that give 100% every week and that has what has got them over the line. That heart, desire and attitude goes a long way in football and it has sealed Burnley a return to the Premier League.
Two years ago; promotion was an emotional fanfare. This time; it had a feel of job done and move on – let’s get the Championship won at Charlton and prepare for next season.
Manager Sean Dyche said, “Last time we were under the radar, it was a fairytale. This one was organised, it was business-like and it was well-fashioned from all involved, especially the players.”
The players have been superb, but the squad will need freshening up. It will be ‘thank you and goodbye’ to a few and the club will have to open the chequebook to the tune of £30 million in my eyes.
“We want to have a good go next year, we are debt free, we have a pound or two extra… we want to add quality,” Mike Garlick, the Burnley chairman, hinted that the club will spend to make the Clarets competitive in the Premier League.
Here are five blokes I would go for:
1. Jay Rodriguez (Southampton)
Rodriguez needs no introduction to Burnley fans; the home grown striker was sold to Southampton in 2012 for £7m after scoring 31 goals in 105 appearances for the Clarets. ‘Jay-Rod’ fits the Dyche mould; he is a good apple, has the work ethic the Burnley gaffer craves and most importantly is a very good footballer who will score goals.
With the likes of Graziano Pelle, Shane Long and Charlie Austin all vying for the lone striking role at St. Mary’s, Rodriguez could be surplus to requirements. This would be a fairytale if he was to return to his hometown club, Burnley would have to table a club-record bid for Rodriguez to allow Saints boss Ronald Koeman to even consider letting him go. He would fit nicely into the vacant number 10 shirt at Turf Moor.
2. Sam Clucas (Hull City)
This fella possesses one of the best left foots I’ve seen at the Turf all season. He is dynamic, energetic and has a great mixture of defensive responsibility and attacking endeavour, operating at either full-back or on the wing – he is the ultimate utility left-sider.
If you play out wide for a Dyche team, you have to be able to track back and Clucas covers his full-back when possession is lost and has good balance of attitude and technical ability. A lot would depend on the fate of Hull City’s promotion drive, but at the age of 25, the former Chesterfield man has the right character to fit into the Burnley squad.
3. Will Hughes (Derby County)
He has been lauded as one of the best players outside of the Premier League for a while now. The way Hughes floats over the grass reminds you of players who are operating at a much higher level. A sort of poor man’s Luka Modric, he has the ability to find killer passes whilst working out of the tightest of areas on notoriously hectic Championship pitches.
Again, it depends on Derby’s fate in the lottery of the play-offs. It would take a hefty bid, in excess of £12m to make the Rams even consider letting one of their prize assets go.
4. Nathan Redmond (Norwich City)
Sat on the terraces at Turf Moor, the one thing fans seem to crying out for is a winger with pace. You could file Nathan Dyer, Jason Puncheon, and Callum McManaman under this section, however I believe Redmond would be the best fit and has the most to offer the Clarets moving forward.
Much will depend on if Norwich City stay up, and I am loathed at targeting players from teams who have just been relegated. Redmond is a touchline hugger, with electric pace, great feet and has the ability to be moulded into a proper footballer by the Burnley gaffer. He strikes me as a talented boy playing a man’s game – Dyche could turn him into a bloke.
5. Ashley Westwood (Aston Villa)
The former Crewe Alexandra man is one of the only players in the claret and blue of Aston Villa that has emerged with his reputation still intact. One poor season doesn’t make you a bad player and I believe Westwood has what it takes to be a quality addition for Burnley.
If manager Dyche is to play 4-4-2 in the Premier League again, he will need to add some youthful legs to a midfield that is primarily the wrong side of 30. At 26-years-old; Westwood is coming to the prime of his career, has invaluable Premier League experience and will be looking to prove a point after this miserable campaign.
He is a realistic option for the Clarets and I have no doubt he can fit into the Dyche ethos.