ATTICUS Finch, Harper Lee’s fictional hero in To Kill a Mockingbird, never delivered a pre-match pep-talk to a dressing-room full of Premier League stars, but his words on courage suggest he might have made a decent fist of it.
“It’s about when you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
Those words might serve as a maxim, an inspiration or, come May 24, a neat summation of Burnley’s big Premier League adventure.
By any measure, Sean Dyche and his charges will be up against it during 2014/15.
One need only cast a cursory glance at the eye-wateringly expensive squads assembled by those clubs at the top end of the market as the manager refers to it, to know that this campaign will not be contested on a level playing-field.
At the same time as Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were busy recruiting World Cup stars, Champions League finalists and assorted Galacticos at £30m a throw, Burnley spent the summer trying to hammer out a deal for West Brom’s fourth-choice centre back.
That isn’t a dig at the club’s transfer policy: it’s a reality check. By winning promotion last time out, the Clarets have found themselves cast as the ultimate underdog in some kind of surreal Fantasy Football setting – glamorous and scary in equal measure.
That’s not to suggest that Burnley are without hope. Kieran Trippier, for example, has spoken of the espirit de corps amongst the players. “A lot of teams don’t have what we have, which is a proper togetherness – we are close, we trust each other.” Matt Taylor, meanwhile, believes Turf Moor itself will be key, “The ground is an older-style ground. The changing rooms for away teams aren’t wonderful. The crowd is close to the pitch.”
And then there’s the gaffer. One can’t help but feel that we have a much improved chance of survival than in 2009/10, when a combination of Owen Coyle’s “all-out-attack-with-no-Plan-B” strategy and the ill-starred Brian Laws appointment resulted in regular larrupings and an inevitable expulsion from the top flight.
Dyche is more astute, his team more disciplined. In fact every time he speaks you get the very strong impression that we have absolutely the right man for the job.
True, we need more players. Yes, we need a bit of luck. And, of course, we need Turf Moor to be rocking for every home game. Get those things in place and we could yet prove the pundits wrong.