Turkey Trotters Ready to Depart

Sean Dyche has a lot on his plate at the moment. He is being required to marshal his injury-ravaged squad through preparations for another Premier League season, each one ever more challenging than the last. 

Dyche will be simultaneously embarking on a European campaign of which neither he, nor the club, has any recent experience; as well as appeasing supporters who expect, nay demand, that he buys four or five top quality players before the early self-imposed transfer deadline. 

Is it any wonder that Dyche cut a slightly tetchy figure at his press conference prior to last week’s second-leg Europa League tie against Aberdeen?  

The game itself may well have cheered him up; for although Burnley required extra time to seal victory, they did show enough skill and character to see off organised and tenacious opponents who were by no means footballing innocents and who were further along in their preparations than Burnley.  

Factor in the Caledonian impulse to put one over on the “Sassenachs”, and you have a potential banana skin the like of which Burnley have been known to slip on in the past. Lincoln City, anyone? 

But prevail Burnley did and in doing so have earned themselves a second qualifying tie against Istanbul Basaksehir with the first leg on Thursday in Turkey.  

After the anti-climax of drawing Aberdeen first up, this tie represents much more of what Clarets fans had in mind when Europa League qualification was secured.  

Istanbul, a fascinating and historic city around which Burnley supporters can wander, taking in the splendour of the Blue Mosque; the sensory sensations of the Grand Bazaar and the romance of sunset over the Bosporus. 

Alternatively, they may just decamp to the nearest bar and lubricate themselves prior to kick-off? 

The tie itself promises to be more in the tradition of European contests; cagy and restrictive and whilst most travelling fans will know little of the opposition, what is apparent is Basaksehir are well funded and have acquired a few seasons of previous experience on the European stage. 

They also number amongst their ranks former Arsenal and Manchester City stars Gael Clichy and Emmanuel Adebayor. At his peak Adebayor was a fearsome striker when the spirit moved him, or when he felt he had a point to prove. 

One expects that he will still prove to be a challenge, as will the heat of a Turkish summer and the notoriously hostile environment that football generates in that country. 

As for the Premier League preparations, it is the cruellest of ironies that Nick Pope has been ruled out for what looks like most of the season having suffered a very similar injury the that sustained by Tom Heaton almost a year ago which first gave Pope his chance.   

Heaton himself is afflicted by a stubborn calf strain, which has led to a scramble for the services of former England keeper Joe Hart, who is seemingly at a loose end having been discarded by Manchester City and unwanted at West Ham following a series of high-profile blunders during his loan spell last season. 

It would also seem that Burnley’s courting of Swansea’s Sam Clucas has floundered over personal terms after the clubs had agreed on a fee.  

Better news on the transfer front has come in the imposing shape of Middlesbrough’s highly-rated centre back Ben Gibson, whose services Burnley have secured in return for an outlay of fifteen million pounds.

Burnley have seemed to be a man light in the centre of their defence for some time now and Gibson’s arrival is therefore doubly welcome.

Finally, a footnote on last week’s Aberdeen game; the Scots were enthusiastically supported in large numbers and the addition of the extra thirty minutes meant a long and tedious journey home, for this they should be commended.

Less wholesome however were the bottles, cans and assorted detritus with which some of those same fans festooned a section of the outfield of the cricket ground next door, between third man and deep extra cover. An unnecessary and uncalled for act of loutishness.

This article was written by uber Burnley fan Dave Thornley, who contributes regularly for Clarets Mad. (TEC).