WE asked Anfield Wrap contributors what they would do this summer with clubs that weren’t their own; how they would resurrect Aston Villa, how Arsenal make the next step, that kind of thing.
Each got to advise, be Director Of Football or even take the reins at the club in question. And of course, we asked Dave Downie to do Liverpool.
You can read the others here:
- You Are The Boss #1 – Crystal Palace
- You Are The Boss #2 – Spurs
- You Are The Boss #3 – Swansea
- You Are The Boss #4 – Everton
- You Are The Boss #5 – Liverpool
Burnley – Simon Hughes
GREETINGS from Turf Moor. Burnley have gone continental. Sean Dyche reveals himself as a European technocrat and as a consequence, he hires me as a sporting director because he has the power to do so in this part of Lancashire.
He’s Sean to me already, so if Sean is the Ginger Mourinho, I am Matthias Sammer dressed in claret (yes, I am ginger). I will attend all matches wearing a claret suit, in fact, purely because this just doesn’t happen enough.
We’ll get down to transfer business shortly but first thing’s first: the important matters. I like Turf Moor. It’s very traditional. From the top of the main stand you can see mill chimneys, slate roofs and the Pennies. Behind the David Fishwick end there is a cricket pitch where Jimmy Anderson bowled competitively as a teenager. The home dressing room is licensed to hold civil marriage ceremonies.
And yet, the issue of the public address system and its predictable music playlist remains. Razorlight and Keane just don’t work for Burnley in the same way they wouldn’t work for any football club largely because they are shite. I like David Bowie but there’s no need for Heroes to be played five minutes before every match either. It’s naturally assumed that Burnley’s players are heroes anyway.
We need something more aggressive: more reflective of Sean. Metallica’s Enter Sandman it is, then. Followed by Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People. Visiting clubs should feel unnerved as they step on to the pitch at Turf Moor throughout the 2016-17 Premier League season.
With Burnley audibly more formidable already, we move on to the desired shape and approach of the team. Sean likes 4-4-2. He used it all the way through Burnley’s last campaign in the top flight without wavering even at away grounds where Burnley were expected to lose heavily but never did.
Even though Burnley went down, Sean feels empowered by Leicester City’s astonishing surge to the title last month and therefore will stick to his principles this time around. Burnley won the Championship following relegation and it takes a special character to make that happen. There are six players who have experienced promotion, relegation and promotion again, those who Sean expects to use most weeks still.
Sean likes goalkeepers who get the basics right, defenders who clear the ball, midfielders who work hard, wingers who cross and strikers who move about a lot. In press conferences Sean regularly uses the words “relentless” and “effervescent” do describe Burnley’s ethic, so there will be no Fancy Dan signings from me this summer. Sorry. Sean has made it clear already to only sign players from abroad if they possess the height, girth and hands of Brian Jensen.
Firstly there are people to replace. Michael Duff (signed for £30,000 from Cheltenham Town in the same way Seamus Coleman once cost Everton double that in case you haven’t heard) has retired, while Joey Barton has chosen the safety of a two-year contract at Glasgow Rangers. Joey has had a fine season in the Championship but that has been his level for quite a while now so I’m happy for him to move on.
The replacement? Charlie Adam. Free-kicks and corners: that’s what he’ll do. He should be playing more often than he does at Stoke. He’ll play every week for Sean and I. He’ll get fitter and become influential. The fans will love him.
Stoke are keen to sell other players so we take Jonathan Walters as well: a bit of nasty up front to accompany Andre Gray, the Championship’s recently crowned leading scorer and player of the year. Burnley are more uncompromising already.
Wages are an issue and the biggest drain on resources in a way that supporters usually don’t recognise. It means we shop lower down the pyramid for the other signings who require a fee but not before we’ve finished in the Premier League with Craig Cathcart from Watford, who’s at the right age (27) to accompany Michael Keane at centre half.
From there, I look at the list of players doing well outside the Premier League. There is Alan Judge at Brentford, Barry Bannan at Sheffield Wednesday, Dale Stephens at Brighton and Hove Albion, Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt at Leeds, Bradley Dack at Gillingham and then Kemar Roofe and Callum O’Dowda at Oxford.
“I want you to sign a midfielder who never stops running,” Sean tells me, so I go and get Stephens who at 26 is desperate still to prove himself at the highest level.
“I want you to sign a winger who can dribble past players,” Sean expresses when we speak again. So Irishman O’Dowda comes for £1.5million plus add-ons. He excites me very much.
“Who’s available on a free transfer?” Sean asks. He’d like to add experience and versatility to the midfield. James Morrison of West Bromwich Albion and Leon Osman are the options. We opt for Morrison.
Lastly we come to the defence.
“What about Kolo Touré?” Sean wonders. I can see it in his eyes. He can’t resist. He’s not far off the guidelines set by Brian Jensen. So we go and get Kolo as well.
The mission: survival.
Our chances: a reasonably confident six and a half out of ten.