Poor Player Recruitment at the Root of Burnley Woes.
The Claret’s new Technical Director Mike Rigg may well have arrived at Turf Moor just in the nick of time to help prevent Burnley returning to the Championship. Thirty years of footballing experience earned working with the likes of Manchester City, Fulham and Burnley's arch rivals Blackburn Rovers, will hopefully help Rigg to solve the Burnley recruitment crisis.
Without question there have been some truly baffling buys over the last couple of seasons whilst Sean Dyche and his recruitment team have ostensibly tried to improve the Burnley playing squad to maintain their hard-earned Premier League status.
Let’s look at a few Burnley players who were plucked from out of the Championship and look to be completely out of their depth in one of the world’s toughest leagues:
Republic of Ireland international Jeff Hendrick was bought from Derby County for a fee believed to be in the region of £11 million. Sean Dyche has still not found the way to get the best from a player who was sensational in the last European Championships. Hendrick has been played as a number ten as well as in various midfield roles, but he has just not clicked. Since he scored against Everton in the famous 24 passes goal at Goodison, he has been largely anonymous and the more vocal of Burnley fans are now letting the player know it.
Conclusion: A swift return for Hendrick to the Championship, but hopefully not with Burnley.
New Zealander All White Chris Wood arrived at Turf Moor on the back of a tremendous scoring spree in the Championship with Leeds United. Burnley’s equal record signing of £15 million started brightly enough, but now looks short of confidence and technique. There are currently a dozen Championship clubs vying for a place on the top table of English football and the need for a proven goal scorer in the Championship may just help the Clarets to recuperate their initial outlay by off-loading Wood.
Conclusion: Get rid quick and put the fee towards buying one of Liverpool’s surplus strikers.
Bermudian international Nakhi Wells was captured from Huddersfield Town in a last season, last minute raid on the Terriers and a fee of £5 million changed hands. Wells has hardly featured for the Clarets since his arrival and was ushered out on loan to the brolly man down at Loftus Road. Since arriving at QPR, Wells looks to be exactly what he is – a proven Championship player with an eye for goal at that level.
Conclusion: Ask Amit Bhatiato pop a cheque for £5 million in the post to Turf Moor, to secure Wells’ future in West London.
In an almost identical transfer manoeuvre to the Wells debacle, Burnley slashed the cash to the tune of £9 million to secure the services of the free scoring Czech Republic international, Matej Vydra from Frank Lampard’s Rams. The Turf Moor jury must still be out on this one, because Dyche cannot find a place for the striker in his plans. It really is hard to fathom why the Clarets bought Vydra in the first place, because the player cannot get a game despite a lack of goals from Dyche’s alternative striker options.
Conclusion: Play him or sell him; the necessity for a proven goal scorer in the Championship to help a team secure promotion, may just aid the Clarets if they attempt to recuperate their £9 million outlay. Sale or return Frank?
Mike Rigg may also shake his head in wonderment as to why Burnley have five recognised goalkeepers on their books? In addition to three England shot stopping internationals in Joe Hart, Tom Heaton and Nick Pope, Burnley also have Anders Lindegaard and Adam Legzdins, both fully fit and capable with gloves at the ready.
Conclusion: Get someone in player sales on the ‘phone right now in an earnest attempt to reduce this goalkeeping quintet.
During Dyche’s tenure in the manager’s chair at Turf Moor he has focussed on developing young players, raising another issue which no doubt will bring another playing position into Rigg’s attention. The Clarets lured away Middlesbrough captain and England hopeful Ben Gibson in yet another last-minute intervention this season. £15 million is reputed to have changed hand to bring Gibson to Turf Moor.
A mixture of bad timing and a couple of nasty injuries have prevented Gibson from yet making an impression on the Burnley faithful. It was widely assumed that defensive stalwart Ben Mee would leave Turf Moor in the summer and Gibson would be his natural successor. Mee has so far been a shadow of his former self and Rigg may well decide the former City player’s time is now up.
Impressive young centre back Jimmy Dunne is back at Burnley for treatment to an ankle ligament injury picked up in training at Hearts. Dunne has been earning rave reviews while playing regular first team football for the Scottish Premier League side.
Conclusion: Despite the Jambos wanting to extend Dunne’s loan period, it might be best to let Mee leave and allow Dyche to select from James Tarkowski, Ben Gibson, Kevin Long and Jimmy Dunne for the centre back berths.
It is by now obvious Mike Rigg has one heck of a job on his hands at Burnley Football Club. I hope his experience will help him to support Sean Dyche and persuade Burnley chairman Mike Garlick to indulge in some Harry Redknapp style wheeler dealing and open the cheque book. Relegation is a very real alternative.
An opinion from the Editor’s Chair at Clarets Mad.