Burnley – What went wrong?
Written by Luke Fenn
Burnley’s 6 year stay in the Premier League has come to an end as they prepare for the championship for the first time since the 15/16 season when they won the league under Sean Dyche. Dyche managed Burnley for 10 years between 2012-2022. Burnley took the option to sack Dyche in April of this year after a 2-0 defeat to fellow strugglers Norwich and it was at that point the Burnley board thought it would be best to let the club legend go. Under Dyche Burnley had adopted this ‘Brexit’ style of play as some people called which, to sum it up, kick it long and get it in the box. This helped Burnley achieve their highest finish in the top flight since 1974 in the 17/18 season as they finished 7th and were to participate in Europa League qualifiers the following season. Unfortunately however, they didn’t make it through to the group stage. In their first round of qualifying they faced Scottish side Aberdeen and won 4-1 on aggregate winning at home 3-1 after extra time with Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes seeing them through to the next round. In their next match they faced Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir and drew the first leg 0-0 before winning the second leg in extra time again and Jack Cork also scoring again (which is a rare moment for him) to put them through to the final match to qualify. Burnley were drawn against a tough opponent in the final match to qualify as they faced Greek side Olympiacos. The first leg set them up for failure as they were defeated 3-1 and went down to ten men in the second half when current Norwich defender, Ben Gibson, saw red. The second leg didn’t spark anything for Burnley at home and drew 1-1 with Matej Vydra scoring their last goal in Europe for potentially some time. What followed for the Clarets wasn’t much to shout about as their form from the previous season slumped after Europe failure and were without goalkeeper Nick Pope for the majority of the season.
They eventually finished on 40 points just 6 above Cardiff in the relegation zone but at least they up for another season. The 19/20 season saw Burnley find some form again as they finished 10th in the season disrupted by COVID 19. Burnley achieved 15 wins with 9 draws including a 2-0 away win at Manchester United. The 20/21 season was of course played behind closed doors so Turf Moor was nothing of its former self which could’ve contributed in Burnley’s poor season as they finished 17th but were 11 points of 18th placed Fulham so they survived fairly comfortably in the end but some Burnley fans were a bit anxious for the 21/22 season and how it would pan out for their club. Fans were finally allowed back into grounds for the 21/22 season and Turf Moor was packed for the first time in 2 years. However, they had nothing to cheer about as they failed to win any of their first 9 games before finally beating Brentford 3-1 on the 30th of October. It was then followed up by a 1-1 draw with Chelsea and Clarets fans were thinking their form was changing until they went on a 10 match losing streak before winning 2 in a row including a 1-0 against Tottenham to keep their survival hopes alive.
What then followed was dismal as after a 1-1 draw with Palace they lost 4 in a row and fans feared the worst but a 3-2 win against fellow strugglers Everton gave fans a confidence boost and went into the match against Norwich expecting a result… but the East Anglian side delivered one their best performances of the season and defeated Burnley by 2 goals to 0. This is when the Burnley board decided to sack Dyche and replaced him with former under 23s coach Mike Jackson until the end of the season. This could’ve been one of Burnley’s best decisions letting Dyche go as Jackson steered them to 3 wins in a row and were out of the relegation zone relegating Norwich and Watford in the process. But then picking up just 1 point in 4 saw them going into the final match of the season needing a win against Newcastle to stay up as they battled it out with Everton for 17th. Everton lost heavily to Arsenal but Burnley lost 2-1 with Callum Wilson relegating the Clarets as he scored a brace so whatever happened in Everton’s match didn’t matter as Burnley were down.
Since that match Burnley have made their choice on players letting a lot of long serving players depart. Captain Ben Mee departs after making 332 league appearances for the club in 10 seasons lasting all the way through Sean Dyches reign. His centre back partner, James Tarkowski, also departs as he has expressed a desire to leave the club last summer. He featured in 198 league games for the Clarets in a 6 year span. Former Stoke full-backs Phil Bardsley and Erik Pieters will also depart having made 113 league appearances between them. Dale Stephens will also depart as his contract runs out along with Aaron Lennon. 8 others (including some under 23s) will be leaving as well due to contract with expirations. Burnley will also be heading in a new direction in the dug out as Vincent Kompany was announced as the new manager this week as he makes his England return hoping to take Burnley back to the top flight.