Do Clarets need the stress of Europa League?
Burnley have a realistic chance of playing Euroepan football next season but do they really want a possible repeat of what happened two years ago?
The Clarets’ superb seventh-place finish in 2017-2018 propelled them into the Europa League the following season and there was understandable joy at the achievement.
However, despite playing six qualification games between July 26 and August 30, they failed to make the group stage of Europe’s second-tier competition.
Manager Sean Dyche played down the fatigue factor of making such an early start to the campaign and the extra games on the schedule, but it clearly took its toll as the Turf Moor outfit did not win a Premier League game the following season until beating Bournemouth 4-0 on September 22.
They went back-to-back by downing Cardiff but it was not until December 8 that Dyche’s charges picked up their third league triumph and they only had 12 points to their name on Boxing Day.
Remarkably, the Lancastrians turned it around and managed to finish in 15th spot, reaching the magical 40-point mark with three games to go.
There have been no such worries this term, as Burnley sit 10th in the table after Saturday’s 1-1 home draw with Tottenham.
While fifth spot may be enough to earn a Champions League berth due to Manchester City’s two-year European ban, a return to the Europa League is more realistic.
The north-west outfit are just four points adrift of sixth-placed Wolves and on a seven-match unbeaten run.
Chairman Mike Garlick says the Clarets will “relish” a second European campaign in three years but it will be tough on the players and manager.
It would mean another early start and any international players would still be feeling the effects of Euro 2020.
The Premier League is widely recognised as the toughest in the world and difficult enough for the so-called smaller clubs to survive in without the added distraction of travelling to the continent from July onwards.
It is clearly a bonus for fans to be able to watch their heroes in Europe but would they trade that experience for another season without having to worry about the threat of relegation?
Dyche’s men appear to be getting stronger as the campaign progresses but that would be an unlikely scenario if they were still in Europe at this stage.
Another Premier League nomination for Burnley. Sean Dyche up for Premier League manager of the month for Feb. Took eight points from four games. Faces Arteta (7pts from three games), Wilder (7pts from 3) and Solskjaer (7pts from 3). #twitterclarets #utc pic.twitter.com/TO8pheDLWy
— Alex James (@alexjameshack) March 6, 2020
Should they make it, then player recruitment in the summer will be key as the boss will need as big a squad as possible for the added games.
Dyche has always been a manager who likes a challenge and will doubtless tackle the European question head on should it arise.