With Owen Coyle putting the final finishing touches to his Burnley squad, the time is right to look at how well equipped he is to keep the Clarets in the Premier League.
Despite the bumper payday for winning promotion, we still find ourselves unable to compete with our peers in the transfer market and have instead looked at bringing in hungry youngsters rather than experienced, expensive professionals.
For instance, Birmingham City splashed out almost £10m on two centre-backs in Scott Dann and Roger Johnson, and Burnley, even after tribunal fees have been set for David Edgar and Richard Eckersley, will in all probability have signed an entire new back line for much less than £3m. Elsewhere, Wolves spent a hefty £6.5m on Kevin Doyle, who scored fewer goals last season than our own Martin Paterson.
James McCarthy and Jason Scotland are just two of the rumoured Burnley targets that have instead moved on to other Premier League clubs, and who knows how many more Coyle might have missed out on for financial reasons.
But the signings he has made are mostly impressive, with the stand-out player obviously being the record-breaking £3m man Steven Fletcher. The former Hibernian striker has made a promising start to his career in claret and blue and looks set to shoulder much of the goal scoring burden. Burnley will need to take their chances and Fletcher is the man Coyle will be relying on to hit the back of the net regularly.
The other four signings so far are all defenders, as Coyle looks to arrest the problems Burnley had at the back last season. But although the quartet of Eckersley, Easton, Mears and Edgar are all young and no doubt talented, there are question marks over whether or not they will prove to be any better than what was already at the club.
They are, though, players that Burnley should be able to retain, even if relegation was to happen come May.
Interestingly Burnley have not gone abroad in their search for new signings, although Ecuadorian winger Fernando Guerrero impressed on trial with the Clarets on the American tour.
That suggests that Coyle is looking to nurture the excellent team spirit from last season further, without risking splintering the squad’s morale by going for bank-breaking, flamboyant foreign players.
Arguably all that is missing from the squad now is a pacy left winger and in his chasing of Hearts’ Andrew Driver and now Guerrero, Coyle has identified that weakness.
However, it appears probable that the Clarets will line up in a 4-5-1 formation more often than not, with Fletcher and Paterson likely to spend some time playing on the wing. That suggests Coyle will favour graft over flair for many games, meaning Robbie Blake and Chris Eagles may have to adapt their games to get regular starting berths.
It is crucial that the team spirit that was so evident last term, especially towards the end of the season, is kept, and the new boys seem to be settling in well already. Most teams will have more skill, quality and talent than us, so we must look to other areas where we can get ahead. Sheer desire is one of them, and Coyle’s tactical nous and ability to get his team up for the big games will also stand the Clarets in good stead.
It’s also important the fans play their part. Turf Moor has the potential to be the most intimidating ground in the Premier League and there are few atmospheres that can match it when supporters are loud.
All in all, we must remember that the Premier League is something to enjoy. Heavy defeats are likely at some point but there will be countless days and nights to remember, with moments that will live on for generations of Clarets.
Enjoy the ride.
This article was written for FansOnline and amended for Fanzone on TimesOnline (for both of whom I shall be writing about Burnley throughout the season).