Burnley Football Club.
They’re a team you’d typically expect to find fighting it out in a relegation scrap all season, rather than fourth in the Premier League come December.
Yet that is exactly where Sean Dyche’s Clarets side currently sit and there is a certain footballing magic about it.
Burnley might be high-flying this season, but they haven’t done it through spending big or riding on luck. They’ve achieved their success in a recognisably Burnley way.
They’ve boxed smart and added well, and now teams are faced with Burnley side as much about spirit and determination as they are about marquee players. It’s a team game at Burnley, and it’s one that is paying off for Dyche.
They’re team is an effective yet inexpensive one and that is refreshing to see in a Premier League now entirely overtaken by ludicrous fees and values.
The team’s average salary is just £18k a week, which while it certainly not an insignificant sum of money is less than the daily rate of some of the league’s top players.
There is that traditional footballing quality still about this Burnley team. They’re experiencing success and yet they haven’t had to become this international enterprise to do it. They still feel like a local English club – a team representative of the town they play in.
Burnley secured their fourth place position in the table through a 1-0 victory over Stoke at Turf Moor.
It wasn’t a pretty game, and took right until the 89th minute for substitute Ashley Barnes to win it for the Clarets, and yet as a neutral observer winning in that manner just made Burnley’s success seem more apt.
They’re not playing the flowing, free-form football that has put Manchester City 11 points clear at the top, nor will they likely ever play such football under Sean Dyche, but as far as the table is concerned Burnley are as good as the rest of the traditional ‘top six’.
The team is in the Champions League positions and you can see how much it means to them. Dyche described himself as the “proudest man in Proudsville” and that “football is about dreams” following the Stoke victory that took them there.
And they’re achieving all this with a team that on paper doesn’t look like it has the quality that it does.
There aren’t any superstar players in the Burnley team, nor were there any bank-breaking transfers to help this team to where it is.
Instead, Dyche did clever business. He bought players who worked well in his system, in his style of football, rather than players that were a more exciting name.
While Swansea brought in Renato Sanches, Burnley went for Jonathan Walters.
One was a much more exciting and glamorous transfer than the other, yet the Irishman is the one seeing success so far this season.
Nick Pope has been another standout – originally a third-choice goalkeeper who thanks to injuries has been propelled into the first team.
He, alongside teammate Johann Berg Gudmundsson, joined from Charlton in transfers that flew rather under the radar.
Neither player has flown under the radar this season, however, as both have been impressive in claret and blue.
Now, there is no disillusion in my mind that Burnley are going to necessarily stay in fourth place by the end of the season, but there is no reason they can’t keep fighting and challenging for a place up there.
Burnley in the Champions League, or even the Europa League, would be a sight I’d love to see.
In the modern game, where we’re all so used to the Manchester clubs and Chelsea in Europe, to see the likes of a Burnley up there doing the European tour would be so equally delightful and anachronistic.
It was fun to watch when Leicester did it, it was somewhat depressing with Everton this season given their woeful form, but Burnley would be a different category all the same.
There is something oddly quaint about the club, something that I think is unlike many of the other Premier League teams, and something that would be endearing to see facing up to some of Europe’s elite.
Sean Dyche’s Burnley versing the likes of Juventus or PSG at Turf Moor would be such a bizarre, only-in-FIFA scenario that would make it so perfect.
They would be the English Premier League’s version of Östersunds (though still not quite as remarkable, because the Swedish team’s journey has been unbelievable).
I accept that St. James’ Park won’t see it for many years to come so, while it is unlikely that Burnley will still be fourth come the season’s end, there is some part of me that would be made no happier than if they did – to get to watch the bizarre and yet beautiful spectacle of European football at Turf Moor.