Discover more from No Nay Never
Plus: Terrible timing for Dyche
Hello! Apologies for the lack of newsletters recently. Normal(ish) service will now hopefully resume with one per week, unless life gets in the way again. Let’s go!
It’s transfer deadline day today and, for once, Burnley are in great shape.
No gaping holes in the squad, no star players being linked with a late move away, no obvious lack of cover for key positions, no being one injury away from a crisis.
A quartet of new arrivals have signed on this month with Vincent Kompany and Alan Pace clearly already looking ahead to next season in the Premier League.
With Taylor Harwood-Bellis out for at least a few weeks, centre-back had suddenly became a priority. Burnley moved for Iraq-born defender Ameen Al-Dakhil - who impressed on debut in the weekend FA Cup draw at Ipswich Town - then brought in Sweden international Hjalmar Ekdal, a 24-year-old who has won three senior caps.
Both players fit the same profile as most of the Kompany/Pace signings: young, hungry, high-potential players with lots to prove, from under-valued markets.
Burnley have not exactly been short of goals this season - we average a tick under two per game, scoring seven more goals than anyone else in the league - but the sharp loss of form experienced by Jay Rodriguez in recent months has been a minor concern.
With both Rodriguez and his deputy Ashley Barnes being beyond their peak, striker was clearly an area where the squad could be improved. Burnley moved for Lyle Foster, making the South Africa international our biggest signing of the season, then added Swansea City’s Michael Obafemi - a target last summer - on an initial loan.
Foster hasn’t scored since the middle of November, but Belgium has been a happy hunting ground for us this season with Manuel Benson, Anass Zaroury and Josh Cullen excellent buys from the league where Kompany cut his teeth at Anderlecht.
The deal for Obafemi seems particularly canny. A full Ireland international, Obafemi has a modest goalscoring record in the Premier League, though he hit 12 league goals in the Championship last term. Obafemi pushed to join us in the summer - bids of around £8 million were reported to be rejected - and we now have an option to buy him for around half that if he impresses over the next few months. Good business.
The most pleasing aspect of our deals in January has been the element of future planning. Burnley are in a position of strength and have made the most of it. Players want to join a successful team, one with promotion virtually guaranteed. There is a unique chance to bed into a happy dressing room, winning most weeks, with an opportunity to go on and hit the ground running in the Premier League in August.
One slight concern over the state of the squad has been the high number of loans. Harwood-Bellis and the exceptional Jordan Beyer have been borrowed. While both might well be back next term - Beyer’s quotes suggest he would be open to making a permanent move to Turf Moor - Kompany cannot count on it. Signing Ekdal and Al-Dakhil, who should both get a chance to deputise for THB, makes a lot of sense.
Two new faces at the back allowed CJ Egan-Riley and Luke McNally to go out on loan. McNally has been a rare flop from last summer’s signings but he has a chance to get some minutes under his belt and Egan-Riley should play regularly in Scotland.
The future of Nathan Tella is impossible to predict at this stage. Burnley would surely love to keep the 23-year-old, whose nine goals and two assists in the league have played a huge part in establishing our dominant position at the top of the table. Obafemi’s pace means it is tempting to see him as an alternative option to Tella, whose parent club Southampton are currently propping up the Premier League.
Looking ahead, Burnley will not have to do much in the summer window. We will need a new left-back (or to bring back Ian Maatsen) while midfield could be a focus area. Jack Cork has been superb this season but the captain will be 34 in the summer. Samuel Bastien’s energy has helped in some matches but games tend to pass him by. Josh Brownhill made 78 Premier League appearances without looking truly at home. If we make one big signing in the summer, midfield might just be the place to do it.
More firepower is always desired when teams get promoted and another new striker might well be targeted with Rodriguez recently turning 34 and Barnes out of contract. The only other player whose deal was up for renewal is Johann Gudmundsson, who literally got a new contract earlier, just as I was tweeting about him deserving one.
It all adds up to an unusually chilled deadline day for the Clarets.
Terrible timing for Dyche
That’s in contrast to the likely chaotic scenes at Goodison Park today, with Sean Dyche having been confirmed as Everton’s new manager. The Toffees should have some money to spend after selling Anthony Gordon to Newcastle United.
Like most Burnley fans, I’m thrilled to see Dyche finally given a chance. I’ve been saying for years that Everton would be a good fit for Dyche. They really should have appointed him ages ago but now, the timing could hardly be worse for our old boss.
New managers often come into clubs in crisis, but Everton are in shocking shape. Second-bottom of the league, their disjointed squad lacks quality after a series of poor transfer windows. Several managers failing to last long has left no obvious style of play and, with striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin struggling to stay fit, they don’t score.
A trio of familiar faces in the form of Michael Keane, James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil will help to ease the transition for Dyche, though how pleased McNeil will be to see his former gaffer remains to be seen. Starting with two tough games - against Premier League leaders Arsenal, then a Merseyside derby with Liverpool - is far from the ideal way to get up and running. Two defeats seem fairly likely.
I would expect Dyche to at least sort out Everton’s defence - Tarkowski and Keane in front of Jordan Pickford should be a strong triangle, though their defensive issues surely stem from a lack of protection in a powder-puff midfield - but the lack of creativity in their side is probably still going to be a serious issue for them.
Dyche can turn it around, but to me Everton feel a bit like Sunderland a few years ago: a big club with a now-toxic fanbase due to years of mismanagement. Relegation has been on the cards for some time. They have circled the drain - will they slide down it?
That’s it from me this week. As always, you can comment below with your views for our letters section, tweet me @JamieSmithSport or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Ta!