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Suzanne Geldard Column: Burnley, the Yeti of the second tier
LIKE a well-oiled machine Burnley are cruising along nicely this season.
They are not going too far, too fast (although it must be said they are picking up three points frequently!), but manager Sean Dyche has got them in the right gear, with all the components working well with each other for a largely smooth ride.
There have been little in the way of bumps in the road so far.
And of the ones they’ve encountered, the Clarets have negotiated them fairly well.
Brighton was not a good trip, with Tom Heaton’s red card and a 2-0 defeat.
But there was no U-turn or dead end to Burnley’s good early season work.
Like a trusty Sat Nav they re-routed and got back on track to maintain an unbeaten run going into Saturday’s home game against Charlton Athletic.
I might not be thanked for this suggestion, but if the Clarets were a car – on current form they could well be a Skoda; not the most fashionable, but right up there with the most reliable in the market.
The manufacturer’s ‘Yeti’ model came top of a 2013 national satisfaction survey, beating the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar (with two other models named in the top 10 for good measure).
Second in the table, in the last 16 of the Capital One Cup, unbeaten at home since March.
Burnley are big on satisfaction right now.
Despite delivering spells of scintillating football this season, there is nothing flash about Dyche’s side.
The Clarets boss talked about “stripping the egos” on live radio after beating Leeds in their own back yard.
The players are all in it together, as a group, mucking in, sharing the burden, the highs and the lows.
And that has to be the biggest reason for their success.
As ex-Claret Jamie Hoyland noted after Tuesday night’s win over Nottingham Forest: “Clarets are looking a class act,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It’s all about the team ethic of working for each other!”
The squad is small, yet proving to be perfectly formed, but the odds of it staying largely in tact for the duration of the season – for whatever reason; injury, suspension, loss of form, departure – will be stacked heavily against them.
There is the old saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
But how often does that ring true?
Even the most reliable vehicles need maintenance, preferably without a lengthy wait for new parts.
Which is why there needs to be action now in Dyche’s bid for back-up, and not when it is required.
There was no cause for widespread alarm when David Jones went off against Leeds.
If there is one place the Clarets can afford to make allowances for absences (not that they would wish to) it is in the central midfield and wide areas.
Equally there is back-up among the goalkeepers, and options in defence.
The pack can be shuffled if necessary.
But the same cannot be side up front should the ever-present, and potent, Ings-Vokes partnership be broken up.
Burnley need preventative measures to help maintain this momentum.
They need to strike for a striker while the iron – and the team – are hot.
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