Burnley boss Sean Dyche anticipates another tough January transfer window
Sean Dyche admits cash is king in the January transfer window, as he again anticipates a tough task to bolster his squad.
Business has proved difficult for Burnley in the winter window, with veteran striker Peter Crouch the only signing last January, with winger Aaron Lennon again a sole arrival in January 2018.
The previous year was a success, with Robbie Brady breaking the club’s transfer record on deadline day, hours after Ashley Westwood signed, but January is often a quiet month in terms of ins and outs for the club.
And with the window ready to open in just under a fortnight, Dyche admitted: “It is tough, I don't know all the budgets yet. You don't know what is truly available.
“You can put names on a piece of paper but when you get into the nuts and bolts of it and the phone calls start getting made, then sometimes that gets thrown out immediately.
“I think January is a particularly tough month anyway.”
Technical director Mike Rigg has been with the club for 13 months now, implementing a more fine-tuned approach to identifying talent, looking to provide 10 options for each position across four key groups within the club’s playing staff - a total of 440 players, in development, breakthrough (both roughly 16-21), peak (22-30) and twilight (30-plus).
Dyche added: “It is ongoing here, we don't rely on a window with cash to go and do what we want.
“It is not just looking at players and seeing who is available, but keeping your ear to the ground as well.
“We have got players from situations where we were in the loop at the right time and know the different information about what might happen, and being ready if that might becomes a reality.
“It is not just purely looking at players and it is not just finance.
“You have to believe in the system. Sometimes in the modern game it is very difficult to see every player you want to sign, but I do try to. Some you have seen enough down the years, but ideally you want to see them with your own eyes, but sometimes that is difficult.
“The idea of the system is to put you in a position where you can trust what the analysts and scouts have done in order to make a signing.
“We are trying to grow it all the time.”
The nature of a 31-day window, rather than the old system up to the third Thursday in March, makes life difficult unless you can force deals through with financial muscle: “I understand, whatever way you do it, it’s going to be questioned, it’s going to suit you sometimes, and not others, but the only thing I would say with set windows, is, quite obviously, the people with the money win the race, so that does make it difficult.
“Whereas over the flow of a season in the old way - I’m not saying which one is better by the way - a team might not sign someone because they’ve got everything in place, and you might, so you might not have as much competition.
“But if it’s all chunked down to a start point, no one knows form and all that, they just go ‘right, we need that’ and go out and do it. So the ones with the money usually win the race.
“Over a season, it might not be all about money - it might be somewhat, but some players might want to go out and play, this, that and the other, which might change it.
“But I’m not judging either or, it is what it is, so we have to crack on.
“But it does make it tough in January in particular, because January really is usually quiet quiet, and if there are moves, it’s either big money or a player who’s maybe out of the picture somewhere going somewhere else.
“They are the norms I would say.”
He added: “I think there is more thought into the ‘what ifs’ in house in January, we’ve got this many players, what if we have a spate of injuries.
“How can we cover that? Is there anything we can do?
“What are the threats looking at us? If they’re looking at us, what can we search for if that happens? Eventually at this club, someone pays enough money so that player goes, so if that happens, are we ready for the next one in?
“That’s more the reality of our world. We’re often reactive not proactive, being proactive takes a lot of money, reactive means you’ve got money to make something happen.
“You’ve just got to find a way through it and it stops one day and everyone stops asking questions, hallelujah! The phone stops...”
One thing about January that frustrates Dyche is the non-stop speculation, which has already started, with Dwight McNeil being linked with numerous clubs, as well as the James Tarkowski to Leicester stories being revisited.
Dyche smiled: “I’ve never experienced one of our players being linked with someone...a lot of them come off as well!
“Six weeks of it to come now...
“It’s like pulling teeth!
“We keep getting linked with people I’ve never even heard of, then you have to ask me about it, and I don’t even know who it is.
“There were a couple recently, me and the staff wondering who they were...”
One famous link came five years ago, when Dyche went to Milan with his wife, and returned being linked with Rossoneri striker Giampaolo Pazzini!
Dyche recalled: “It was a true story that I was in Milan - we were being linked with a centre forward.
“But we were not looking and I was genuinely on a shopping trip with my wife as a Christmas present.
"We flew over on the Sunday morning at stupid o'clock, went shopping, and near the hotel was a bar - and I was on the scope for any kind of mini fix of football in the afternoon.
“Went into this bar for a drink and there was a TV on, and then the report said I was physically at the game, when I was actually watching it on TV about 200 yards from our hotel!
"Was it Pazzini? I didn't even know the player.
“The bar I was in was owned or ran by a fellow who was English. So allegedly he set this in motion that I was in Milan to watch this player, but what he missed out was that I was in his pub watching this player!
"I'm thinking 'no, I wouldn't be in a bar watching a player, I would probably go to the game as I was in Milan!'
“Three pints in and I would be saying 'cor he's looking sharp! Let's a get a bid in, there and then!'
"It was like the perfect storm. We had been linked with this player and I just happened to be in Milan on a shopping trip with my wife.
"That was a good one that. I've also supposed to have been at other grounds watching a player when I've actually been in Northampton!" Let's face it, I'm not easily mistaken am I?”