Burnley's bounce based on better chances and passing, but can it last?

Burnley have enjoyed a huge new manager bounce underpinned with more shots, better chances and improved passing… but will it last long enough to reach 40 points and avoid a £115M relegation bombshell

  • Interim boss Mike Jackson has galvanised Clarets after Sean Dyche’s departure
  • Only one top flight club has had a better return on a sacking than Burnley 
  • It’s not all about extra effort, Jackson has made small changes to Clarets’ style 
  • But how long does the new boss bounce last and will it be long enough for Burnley to survive in Premier League and avoid a £115M relegation bombshell? 

Nine Premier League clubs have sacked their manager this season, hopeful of an upturn in fortunes, but only one of them has had a bigger bounce than Burnley.

The controversial decision to dismiss long-serving boss, Sean Dyche, led many to expect the worst for the Clarets, but under interim manager Mike Jackson, the squad has come together in spectacular fashion.

Prior to Dyche’s untimely departure, just two days before Burnley travelled to West Ham, the team had picked up only three points in the preceding four games, which included defeat at relegation rivals, Norwich City.

Burnley have won three in a row, including a dramatic late winner at Watford last week

In the four games since, the Clarets have seized 10 points from 12, including a dramatic turnaround at Watford, where they scored twice in the last five minutes to win 2-1. 

The only club in the top flight this season that has seen a better return on a sacking is Aston Villa, who went from four straight defeats under Dean Smith, to three wins in four matches when Steven Gerrard came in – an improvement of nine points in that period.

And Manchester United saw a similar bounce to the Clarets after they parted company with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

After a difficult season – or two – Burnley are remarkably back to their best under Jackson, but will it be enough to stay ahead of Everton and Leeds and reach 40 points, which looks increasingly likely to be the required total to stay in the top flight this term?

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After all, the new manager bounce is usually a short-term effect, which is generally considered to be based on renewed focus, a surge in enthusiasm and extra effort.

Interim manager Mike Jackson has galvanised Burnley and tweaked the team’s approach

‘It’s always a fresh start for everyone,’ Peter Crouch told Sportsmail this week. ‘The first couple of weeks everything goes up a notch or two. There is a clean slate across the board, even for the players who had been picked by the previous manager. Training goes up and that translates to performances.

But how long does it last? One of the most detailed studies in the Premier League was conducted by Professor Sue Bridgewater, now of the University of Liverpool, looking at the impact of all top flight sackings from 1993 to 2008.

Bridgewater found ‘the honeymoon’ varied with club and even across different seasons, however, Burnley fans will be relieved to hear that on average in the Premier League the upturn lasted seven to 12 matches.

Jackson has been assisted by academy director Paul Jenkins and club captain Ben Mee

By the end of the season, Jackson will have been in charge for eight games, but you can be sure his focus will be entirely on Aston Villa at Turf Moor on Saturday. Victory over Villa will put Burnley on 37 points – and pile pressure on Leeds and Everton, who play Sunday.

While there is no guarantee that Burnley’s good form will continue, there are clear signs that the revival is not just built on energy alone. Jackson has tweaked Burnley’s approach.

Dyche’s defensive structures remain solid. He focused on shape and distances between players in defence and it is clear that Jackson and the team are adhering strongly to those principles. And the ‘never-say-die attitude’ is also intact.

Clarets face Aston Villa on Saturday and have a chance to pile pressure on Leeds and Everton

‘They’ve got a spirit Burnley and we’ve always known that,’ Gary Neville observed on Sky Sports. Dyche has put that into those players.’

The difference now is Burnley have taken the handbrake  off. 

In the last four games not only have Burnley scored six goals, compared to three in the preceding four fixtures, but they are creating lots more opportunities.

The figure for expected goals per game (xG) has doubled with Burnley generating an xG of 1.9 under Jackson, compared to 0.8 with Dyche, according to a detailed study of the Clarets’ tactics by TotalFootballAnalaysis.

Unsurprisingly, shots are up, too, but more importantly shots on target have increased to 4.3, more than twice the Dyche figure. This implies Burnley are making better chances.

Burnley fans may have feared the worst when Sean Dyche was sacked, but they are enjoying the ride, while chairman Alan Pace is relieved Burnley are back to winning ways (below)

While Burnley have changed their approach, it is not a drastic shift, more like an adjustment. Overall, passing accuracy has increased from 65 per cent in the last four games with Dyche in the dugout to 71 per cent under Jackson, according to the statistics website, FBREF.

The statitsics show Burnley are playing fewer long balls, down from 110 per game in Dyche’s last four games to 96 each match, on average, with Jackson. The team is passing short more often. 

The approach may have increased scoring opportunities, but it has also seen the Clarets concede more opportunities say the analysts at Total Football.

However, a team in desperate need of points had to shift the balance of risk and reward and that is what Jackson has achieved, by gently nudging Burnley forward.

No one is more relieved than chairman Alan Pace. A video circulated on social media, after Burnley’s win at Vicarage Road, of Pace celebtating widely when Josh Brownhill scored the Clarets’ winner in the dying minutes.

Not only would Pace have been villified if his gamble in sacking Dyche had caused the Clarets to collapse at the very moment they had to push on, but relegation threatens a £115M hit.

The club’s 2020-21 accounts confirm the existence of a clause in a £65M loan, originally revealed by Sportsmail, which requires the money to be paid back if Burnley are relegated before 2026.

In addition, the club would also lose £50m in TV and prize money in their first season after relegation, with more losses to follow, leading to a fire sale of players. The stakes are high.




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