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Burnley down – What went wrong and what comes next for the Clarets?

Burnley’s Wout Weghorst faces up to the prospect of relegation (Nick Potts/PA).
Burnley’s Wout Weghorst faces up to the prospect of relegation (Nick Potts/PA).

Burnley are heading back to the Championship after a 2-1 home defeat to Newcastle, coupled with Leeds’ win at Brentford, confirmed their relegation on the final day of the Premier League season.

Caretaker boss Mike Jackson had offered hope of a great escape with some encouraging results after replacing Sean Dyche in April, but it was not quite enough as Burnley finished three points adrift of safety.

Here, the PA news agency take a look at what went wrong and what comes next at Turf Moor.

Has this been coming?

Sean Dyche File Photo
Sean Dyche kept Burnley above their station on a shoestring budget for several years (Martin Rickett/PA)

For several years, yes. Burnley spent six consecutive seasons in the top flight, finishing seventh in 2017-18, consistently punching above their weight as something of a throw-back to the days before the Premier League became global entertainment. But reality has caught up with the Clarets, who were in the bottom three from October until April. Dyche paid with the job he held for almost a decade, and, although they got close with the bounce brought by Jackson, who won almost as many games in a month as Burnley had in the eight beforehand, it was not enough.

What was different this season?

Burnley v Leicester City – Premier League – Turf Moor
Maxwel Cornet was a different kind of signing for Burnley last summer (Martin Rickett/PA)

After years of under-investment in a squad that had shrunk due to a succession of players leaving on free transfers, new owners brought new funds and renewed optimism. For years Dyche had sought to mine the English lower leagues for players who fit the budget and would need little assimilation, but the signing of Maxwel Cornet from Lyon was something different – a 24-year-old full international coming into his prime. But though Cornet began with a bang personally – six goals in his first 10 league appearances – the supporting cast could not keep pace.

What was the main problem?

Newcastle United v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Premier League – St James’ Park
Chris Wood’s exit for Newcastle rocked Burnley and robbed them of their most reliable goalscorer (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Goals. Or a lack thereof. Burnley remained as difficult to beat as ever – but were also quite hard to lose to given how rarely they scored, picking up a solitary league win before February. Chris Wood had been good for double figures every season, but the New Zealand international had only three this term before Newcastle exercised a release clause to whisk him away in January – a moment that rocked Burnley. Replacement Wout Weghorst looked a relative bargain given his prolific record in Germany but only scored two in 20 games. Cornet could not maintain his bright start and had only three goals after returning from the African Cup of Nations in January.

Was the great escape ever on?

Burnley v Southampton – Premier League – Turf Moor
Caretaker manager Mike Jackson offered hope but could not quite pull off the great escape (Martin Rickett/PA)

The win over Everton in March felt huge, but they lost at Norwich a few days later and Dyche was shown the door. Though Jackson offered hope, Burnley fans got the sense fate was against them given how many times both Everton and Leeds picked up points with last-minute goals in the final few weeks of the season. Pascal Struijk’s stoppage-time leveller for Leeds against Brighton on the penultimate weekend put Burnley back in the drop zone and, although the Clarets briefly lifted themselves out again, Leeds were back with another late show on the final day.

What now?

Manchester United v Burnley – Premier League – Old Trafford
James Tarkowski is one of several long-serving players due to leave the club this summer (Martin Rickett/PA)

Burnley’s accounts confirmed the club would need to repay a “substantial” portion of a £65million loan taken out during ALK Capital’s leveraged takeover in the event of their relegation. Captain Ben Mee and in-demand defender James Tarkowski headline a list of nine players out of contract, with Jack Cork, Ashley Barnes and Matej Vydra also included. Cornet has a release clause in his deal which kicks in with relegation, while England goalkeeper Nick Pope and Dwight McNeil will surely also move on. A radical overhaul is needed, but the first job will be appointing a permanent successor to Dyche. Given how close he was to pulling off the great escape, Jackson should be a candidate if he wants it.