Sean Dyche has been surveying the season so far, ahead of facing Newcastle on Monday.
After last season saw Burnley up to the heady heights of seventh, this time around it is a different story.
They have nine points from 12 matches and are below Newcastle on goal difference.
Sean Dyche pointing to their Europa League involvement as a big factor in the downturn.
I like Dyche but the Europa League has become a convenient excuse for many, just like Alan Pardew doing so back in 2012/13, when a team that had finished fifth the season before almost relegated. However, that was more to do with shattered morale in the squad after Mike Ashley had refused to build on that breakthrough fifth place finish when so many things had fallen right for NUFC.
Burnley started their season two and a half weeks early with the first of six games they’d end up playing in the Europa League. Kicking off against Aberdeen back on 26 July 2018.
In their opening eight Premier League matches they have only played one (Man Utd) who finished above them last season, so they can hardly claim that it was a tough opening schedule.
When I hear these kind of excuses I always think back to the 2001/02 season when Sir Bobby Robson and his team used early European matches as a launchpad for the season.
They beat Lokeren in Belgium 4-0 on 14 July 2001, five weeks before the Premier League kicked off, playing six Intertoto matches in all.
They embraced it and took it as an opportunity to use the competitive Intertoto matches to help give them early impetus in the league. Their first 19 PL matches giving them 39 points, thanks to 12 wins, 3 draws and only 4 defeats. I can see an argument whereby later in the season the squad might suffer a little from the extra European matches but not early doors.
In 2002/03 Sir Bobby once again shot that argument to pieces, Newcastle having a staggeringly good PL record when playing games after midweek in the Champions League.
Sean Dyche talking to the Burnley Express:
“I still wouldn’t take away the experience but it does challenge you.
“It is well documented about everyone that goes into the competition, and it is documented for a reason.
“We knew that.
“But I was thinking ‘come on, let’s have our version of it’.
“Then when you go through it and you look back and you reflect on it, you understand why it’s well documented, you understand why all the managers come off it and go ‘massive challenge’.
“We went four games with 16 players. Dwight McNeil played in two, and I think Dwight’s a very good player and he continues to develop, but the point is that’s what we were down to.
“I think that shows where our squad was at, at that time. It’s difficult, without a doubt.
“It’s not really getting it out of your system, it’s just that it’s so new and a different experience, that it’s bound to have a change in the psyche because you’ve never been through it before, me included in that and some of the players. The peculiar feel of it, the travel, all of that.
“I don’t know if we’re getting it out of our system but factually it’s gone, it’s been parked. Then on the back of that, we’ve had these injuries.
“Really what I’m waiting for and hoping for is everyone getting fit, and then we’ve got that in-house competitive element and then the games programme of course.
“We haven’t had that all season, when we go ‘Right, ok, where are we going with this now? Where are we as a group going?’
“In the meantime we’re fighting hard and working to get points on the board to make sure that we’re intact for that period when everyone is available, because eventually everyone gets a level playing field when they’re all fit and they’re all well.”