Over the last few years, Burnley have become something of a stalwart in the Premier League. Having been initially relegated in their debut campaign back in 2014/15 under Sean Dyche, the former Northampton Town defender dragged the Clarets back from the abyss of Championship mediocrity and into the top flight first time of asking, ensuring they have remained in the division since.

However, Burnley’s form has dipped this season and after flirting with relegation throughout the first half of the campaign, they face the real possibility of the drop — all without real scrutiny from the majority of English pundits.

In football we often hear the phrase ‘too good to go down’ nonchalantly tossed around in regards to Premier League relegation, and admittedly, the Clarets are an organised outfit who have developed a reputation for their no-nonsense approach and ability to manage games — often helping stake their claim in the Paddy Power football odds.

From a Burnley standpoint, the start of the campaign looked to be an optimistic one. Having finished 17th but a convincing 11 points ahead of relegated Fulham, their recruitment saw them bring in fresh faces and add to a team that had remained virtually unchanged under Dyche’s tenure at Turf Moore.

Nathan Collins and Connor Roberts were brought in from the Championship to provide reinforcement at the back, but the marquee signing was Maxwel Cornet. The Ivorian has been Burnley’s talisman this season, albeit with just six goals, and will be missed after jetting off for the Africa Cup of Nations. He has certainly given the side a new dimension — to a mixed degree of success.

While this Burnley team has been a figure of consistency since their top flight return, it is a squad that is ageing and in desperate need of transition. Cornet’s goals have spared the Lancashire outfit’s blushes at times. Despite underperforming, they have beat sides around them but the results have certainly taken a turn for the worst this season. An opening day assault at the hands of Liverpool was a sign of things to come as the Clarets struggled to find their feet unable to pick up a first win until October 30th against newly promoted Brentford.

Dyche eventually looked to regroup his side and a draw with Chelsea was a prime example that this is a team hungry to fight for their manager, but one that might just not be capable of doing so anymore. There are worse teams around them, with Newcastle’s disastrous campaign a complete juxtaposition of what they had hoped to accomplish since their Saudi takeover, and in a sense, it has alleviated some of the pressure of Burnley’s tentative shoulders as they head into a decisive few months.

Whether it is the demand of more fixtures caused by the coronavirus pandemic or the inevitable fatigue of picking essentially the same group of players each week, clearly the losses are taking their tole of Dyche, who was quick to respond when asked of his sides shortcomings this season: “Our players have experienced these tough spells, they’ve experienced the Premier League and how tough it can be at times.”

“But equally, they’ve experienced the turnaround, they’ve experienced how we’ve turned that around, the things we have to continue doing and then add things on.” He said: “We’ve done that on a number of occasions, so that experience is helpful, I would say, over a season’s work.”

There is no doubt it has been a steady decline at Turf Moor, but if you need a safe pair of hands to keep morale high and a team afloat, there are far worse options around than Dyche. The next round of relegation ‘six pointers’ could prove critical in deciding the Clarets fate.

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