Burnley have one massive job on their hands, but before the struggle starts they should be congratulated in making back to the big time.
The promotion came in the most unlikely circumstances. A shoestring budget, small squad and inexperienced manager, most could be forgiven in thinking those are usual prerequisites for relegation, especially in a league as open as the Championship. But Sean Dyche brought his men together and bound them like super glue and their surge to second place was a joy to behold.
But the real work has already started, it is the start of August and unusually for a recently promoted side they have been relatively quiet, a few loan signings from last year tied up on permanent deals but the real challenge is the attaining of squad depth.
As mentioned the squad is stretched and slightly unbalanced, too few defenders and a few too many attackers. They have made strides to improve this ratio with the free signings of Steven Reid and Chris Baird but they still need one or two more to shore up the back, the players that have been brought in are of decent standard however two are unproven at this level.
Jutkiewicz and Sordell haven't had a sustained period at this level, so it remains to be seen how they will fit into Burnley's system. The club need to put some money in Dyche's hands and let him invest otherwise it a long wait until January. Overall 3/10.
Most promoted sides come up with the mentality of defending deep and grinding out results, until Blackpool broke the trend in 2010-11. Burnley last year were renowned for their effective style of play which involved a high pressure game plan, their attacking mainly stemmed from the target man method with Sam Vokes filling this role and the shoulder striker Danny Ings finishing off the moves.
Vokes is out of action until further notice due to his ACL injury sustained in March, this has been slightly alleviated by the signing of Jutkiewicz who will be charged with filling this role. The issue Dyche needs to address is their performances against the top sides, he needs to be careful that they don't implode although this will be important to all the promoted sides not just Burnley. Overall 5/10.
This is where the unfortunate truth will come out; they were brilliant to watch in the Championship last season and fully deserved to be promoted, but their ability throughout the team is not good enough to last another season. Many will see comparisons with Crystal Palace for the first half of last season where they looked defeated by Christmas.
Many will see that this will be a scrap between the promoted sides to see who can claw themselves out of the mire. If investment is forthcoming then there will be some hope for the Clarets but they have less than a month to do the business and time is running out,.
It will also be crucial to keep Ings and Jason Shackell fit as they were key players last season. Shackell is the best defender in terms of organisation and a cool head, Ings obviously is the key goalscorer and if he doesn't fire or gets injured they will have a real problem. Overall 3/10.
Ings: goals will be instrumental and his direct running and pace will be enough to frighten slower defenders. His form was extremely consistent last year and although he might not net as much as last year goals at the right time could be key for them.
Tom Heaton: The ex-Manchester United starlet has cemented himself as the number one in the Clarets net, he has has a good few years and got himself enough first team football to rebuild his reputation and is a reliable shot stopper.
Keiran Trippier: The full back is a dynamo going forward and has a excellent cross from the wide areas, he also can defend when he needs to but can be rash at times. The ability to read the game better will come with experience and age.
Prediction: In league football the table never lies, the team that finishes top usually deserve to be there and the teams relegated were often just not good enough, this is the case here for Burnley. With their small budget and lack of squad depth, it can't be said with any certainty that they will stay up, bigger teams will pick them off with more regularity combined with on paper they are no better than the teams around them or even the teams that came up with them.
However they will no doubt claim a few notable scalps and ruffle a few feathers along the way. Burnley should see this as a building block to their project and with the way the club is run on a small budget the money for playing this year will set them up for the next few years.
Final Prediction: 20th
Domestic Cups: A cup run would be welcome but most of the focus will be on staying in the league.
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