Good start, back-up strength is key

Turf Moor.
Turf Moor.

So, with pre-season now a fading summer memory, how did Burnley square up when it mattered?

First of all, I was happy with the point gained against Bolton. This wasn’t a case of points dropped at home.

The Clarets won the same fixture a year ago at the culmination of the furore over Owen Coyle but there were important differences this time.

Bolton look to have kept the squad which includes many players of Premiership quality and added to it - and thank you, David Wheater, for your part in Burnley’s goal!

Both sides looked adept at playing some passing football, Bolton’s big men only coming on later in the game. Bolton had more options than Burnley with a bigger pool of talent, and perhaps there is the rub.

Sean Dyche’s side - and he fielded the same starting line-up in the comfortable Capital One Cup 4-0 win at York on Tuesday - looks good enough at Championship level.

They competed well with a team who have more than an eye on a return to the Premiership. The major worry will be strength in depth - or lack of it - should injuries and suspensions take their toll.

There is still time, through transfers or loan deals, to strengthen Burnley’s ranks for this campaign and I would guess that is what the manager will try to do.

Otherwise, with a bit of bad luck, success can turn to struggle.

Perhaps the best example of that is the old first division relegation season of 1975-76. Supporters were delighted with two stalwart signings in Willie Morgan (returning) and Mike Summerbee, adding to talent that still included the likes of Leighton James, Peter Noble, Paul Fletcher, Frank Casper and more, and the team started well.

But bad luck struck - Ian Brennan’s broken leg, Noble injured taking a spot kick (he scored it and had scored most of Burnley’s goals to that point in the season), Fletcher beginning a struggle with injury and Frank Casper’s return never really materialising.

It meant that when reigning champions Derby came in for Leighton James, the replacents struggled to match the quality of the injured and departed and Jimmy Adamson’s Team of the 70s dream slipped away. It was hard on 11-year-old me too.

So I hope for better luck this time, and a couple of astute if not expensive signings to bring that extra bit of quality cover.