CLARETS boss Eddie Howe admits he has to “act smart” over the summer to get the squad in a position to challenge for promotion next season.
Having arrived in January, Howe had little time to put his stamp on things, in terms of making signings and implementing his footballing philosophy.
But in the close season, he expects no let up in the job as he looks to bring in the players he feels can move the club forward, while hopefully securing the futures of his key personnel.
He is looking forward to getting his teeth into the task.
He said: “It is very difficult coming mid-season. You’ve got the games to think about, which are the priority, and then you have to try to mould the team to play in a certain style that suits your ideas, but you have such little time to do that.
“The summer will be a really good opportunity for us to put our stamp on the squad, and then pre-season will be an ideal opportunity to get the team to play how we want it to play, and to get certain ideas across.
“It’s a really positive time and one where we can hopefully make the changes that we want.
“There are things we need to do.
“We’ve been inconsistent as a team this season. It’s been a mixed bag. We’ve had some really good performances and some really disappointing ones, and we need to try to raise the bar.
“We need to try to raise the level of everything that we deliver here.
“It’s our job to deliver the best product we can for the players and hopefully we’ll improve the players’ performances on a consistent basis.
“We’re excited by it.
“Change is a thing that’s sometimes feared but we can’t wait to get started.
“Everyone says ‘are you going to enjoy a break now’, but it’s probably going to be the busiest time for us.
“We need to act smart and get the team ready for the start of the season.”
The budget will be smaller than this time last year, with a reduction in parachute payments, but, having already spent over £1.5m on Charlie Austin and Marvin Bartley in January, there will be money available again.
Howe admits: “I think all possibilities are open to us.
“The board are very supportive, but they’re also realistic in terms of finances, so we’re going to have to be smart, think with our heads and make the right decisions.
“There’s not a huge pot of money to play with.
“We’re realistic to our position so we’re going to have to keep all options open.”
As important to adding to the squad is keeping hold of players like Chris McCann, who is out of contract and interesting his old boss Owen Coyle at Bolton.
Tyrone Mears and Chris Eagles are sure to attract attention as well, with one year remaining on their deals.
Howe said of the pair: “I’d imagine there would still be focus on them, as both have had good seasons and have one year left on their contract.
“I certainly hope they both stay because they are important parts of the team.
“But we just have to wait and see. I’d certainly like to extend contracts with certain players, but it’s a two-way thing.
“They have to want to commit to the club. We need to sit down with those players and have those discussions.
“We definitely would like to extend contracts as I think to build long-term success you need that stability.”