Dyche looking to spread wings in transfer market
The king is dead, long live the king.
That has been the way around Turf Moor, particularly in the striking department, for the last decade and more.
But boss Sean Dyche admits it is getting more and more difficult to identify the right players to continue his side’s development, with Europe and beyond the next frontier.
Burnley sold Robbie Blake for a then-club record £1.5m to Birmingham City in 2005, and replaced him with Ade Akinbiyi.
Akinbiyi followed Blake out of the door in 2006 for £1.75m, another record.
Then came Andy Gray, who then joined Charlton for a record £2m in January 2008, with Kyle Lafferty following him out of the door that summer, joining Rangers for £4m, you've guessed it, a record!
Martin Paterson arrived for £1m, with Steven Fletcher joining for a club record £3m in the summer of 2009 after promotion to the Premier League.
A year on, Fletcher was off to Wolves for a club record £6m, giving Jay Rodriguez an opportunity, and so it goes on.
Rodriguez, Charlie Austin and Danny Ings have all shone up front for the Clarets, only to move on.
Andre Gray is just the latest.
But how hard is it to identity the next prolific forward?
Dyche said: “The way that we’ve been attempting to operate is to have people in mind before these things happen, but it’s very difficult.
“This is a structural thing but inside the club, one of the last areas that needs more work is recruitment and building a structure and a strategy, but it takes time.
“A lot is made of European players and us signing European players. Any given club has a real depth of knowledge, as this club has transformed from an English-thinking club when I took over, it has grown a bit and first time in the Premier League, we tried to get players who can operate between the two divisions, now we’re a bit healthier and we've started to look at Steven Defour and Johann.
“You spread your wings a little bit but everyone wants it doing overnight, if you do it overnight we all know the stories that happen. That’s where it becomes tough.
“If it goes wrong it really goes wrong, and if it goes really wrong someone needs to be there to catch it.
“It’s difficult on me as manager because we have to try and find players who can continue this and keeping moving forward while knowing at the back of your mind there’s a good chance that your better players are going to be taken off somewhere else.”
Dyche had identified Britt Assombalonga of Nottingham Forest, who he gave a senior debut to while at Watford.
But after having two offers turned down, the first for £8m, Middlesbrough had a £15m offer accepted, and with a lucrative wage package to boot, Burnley decided to end their interest.
Would Dyche have pushed harder for Assombalonga if he knew Gray would leave?: “There’s still got be a level that fits any club. Steve Gibson has been writing big cheques for that club for many years, his backing of his managers and the club is unbelievable I think.
“That’s their style. This is a different club. The chairman and the board here don’t want to go mad and put it out there financially and say ‘let’s really go to town’.
“It’s hard to find the level that is appropriate to keep moving forward while not putting the club in future jeopardy.
“We’ve got a few others scouts in now but it’s the layers of information. Often these big clubs have got years on us, they’ve been monitoring players for years, they build up massive amounts of information. We’re just starting that, probably about a year ago, to learn about the European markets and adding more staff and more information.
“That’s all it is. People say I don’t like foreign players, I couldn’t care where they’re from, as long as their good footballers, that’s the key.
“Getting it right as often as you can is still important at this club, some other clubs maybe not as important.”
Dyche's budget has been enhanced by the departures of Gray and Michael Keane, but he explained: “You need someone to spend the budget on. It’s the availability, the right players, contracts are a big thing here.
“I’m not crying it in, it’s just this world. Other clubs have their own way of doing things.”
So is Dyche frustrated with the board’s prudent outlook? “Over my time here I have a big say on a lot of things, so at the key moments I’m involved. There comes at a time when there has to be a shift for the right reasons, because if you’re going to shift them then all of the others who have done great here will need to shift as well.
“Each agent comes in and asks for whatever they ask for, some more realistic than others, then we have to make a decision.
“It’s judging what the right level is for a club like this.”