28 Sep 2020 11:50 AM +00:00

Football Manager 2018: Burnley guide, player ratings & tactics

Burnley have surprised everyone this season, finding themselves in contention for European football. With just six losses so far in the campaign, few would bet against them finishing in the top seven, which could be enough to qualify for the Europa League next season. It’s a truly fantastic season for a club who only survived Premier League relegation for the first time last year. Can you repeat Sean Dyche’s success on Football Manager 2018 and establish the Lancashire club as a PL staple? 

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With Burnley still very new to the Premier League (this is just their fourth season ever in the division), there is no clear philosophy at the club, aside from getting enough points to stay up. The board will not instruct you to follow a certain strategy, so you can take the club in whichever direction you please.


As for expectations, chairman Mike Garlick will issue what is required this season. These are adjustable, with higher targets giving you higher finances for your transfer budget. The default is to avoid relegation in the ‘English Premier Division’, reach the fifth round of the FA Cup and reach the fourth round of the Carabao Cup

Targeting mid table in the top flight will give you an extra £1.5 million, with aiming for the top half adding £2.5 million. Lining up a trip to both cup quarterfinals would give you an extra £500,000.  



Transfer £10 million   

Wage: £824,000 per week (Current spend: £773,000)


Burnley tend to use a simple 4-4-2 formation under Sean Dyche, and we have adjusted this slightly to a ‘4-1-1-4 DM Wide Asymmetric' system to get the best out of your players. When Jeff Hendrick returns from injury however, you should switch to a more conventional 4-3-3. 


Captain Tom Heaton is in goal, with Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee and Stephen Ward in defence.

Steven Defour is the defensive midfielder, with Jack Cork performing a box-to-box role in central midfield. Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Robbie Brady provide the width, and up top, Ashley Barnes links up with target man Sam Vokes

Go for Nick Pope, Kevin Long, Phil Bardsley, Ashley Westwood, Scott Arfield, Jonathan Walters and Chris Wood on the substitutes bench.

Key players

Burnley have signed well over the past couple of seasons, and although they struggled away from home last season, this squad picked up 10 wins at home, two more than Manchester United. 

Tom Heaton – CA 4 star (150), PA 4 star (155)

Burnley’s best player is goalkeeper Tom Heaton. An injury suffered in September has ruled him out for much of the season, but if he can rekindle the form he has shown since the Clarets promotion to the top flight, the 31-year-old has a more than a chance of going to the World Cup with England in the summer. On FM 18, the stopper has a 150 current ability rating which can still improve to a 155 potential. His top attributes include 18 communication, 18 consistency and 17 concentration.


Steven Defour – CA 4 star (141), PA 4 star (145)

The signing of Steven Defour for a club record £8 million in 2016 showed Burnley’s intent add quality to their squad, and the Belgian international is the heartbeat of the team. FM stats of 18 adaptability, 16 passing and 16 influence show his quality, and they provide the 29-year-old with a 141 CA and 145 potential.

Robbie Brady – CA 3.5 star (140), PA 3.5 star (143)

Perhaps an underrated member of the Burnley side is Robbie Brady. The Irish international is an old school winger, staying wide and whipping balls into the box with his wicked left foot. His 140 CA consists of 16 work rate, 16 determination and 15 adaptability, which can still improve as the 25-year-old grows to his 143 potential.


Young talent

The notable academy graduates at Burnley are few and far between, with Lee Dixon, Jay Rodriguez and Marc Pugh the only men to go and become Premier League regulars. 

Oliver Younger – CA 1 star (70), PA 2-3 star (110-140)

Centre back Oliver Younger became the youngest player ever to sign a contract with Burnley at the age of 14. Now 17, he is growing at the club, being named Youth Team Player of the Year last season. It still be a few years before he makes the step up to the first team but with a 70 current ability rating and a potential between 110 and 140 it is surely and inevitability.

Adam Bruce – CA 1 star (66), PA 2.5-3.5 star (110-140)

Burnley are spoilt with goalkeepers, with Tom Heaton and now Nick Pope proving to be very solid for the first team. Alex Bruce is the star stopper in the youth setup, and in five years a so he can add to your selection headache for the senior side. His CA may just be 66, but make sure you nurture the youngster so he can hit his potential, which could be as high as 140.  


Kian Yari – CA 1 star (57), PA 1.5-2.5 star (110-140)

Signed last summer, 16-year-old attacking midfielder Kian Yari could become the architect that Burnley is missing. If you are to stay at the Clarets for a length period, you may wish to bring in a more attractive style of football, and Yari could save you a ton of cash. It will take time for his 57 CA to hit his potential between 110 and 140, but it will be worth it.

Team Report

Strengths Weaknesses 
Goalkeeper depthCentre back depth
TeamworkOverall depth
Left back depthTransfer budget
Youth prospectsFirst touch
Star midfielder (Johann Berg Gudmundsson)Scouting staff
Right back depth
Wage budget
Star defender (James Tarkowski)
Star goalkeeper (Tom Heaton)
Jumping reach
Work rate


Team leaders - Tom Heaton (C), Ben Mee, Sam Vokes


Highly influential - Dean Marney, Jack Cork, Stephen Ward, Scott Arfield, Jonathan Walters, Ashley Barnes, Steven Defour, Jeff Hendrick, Matt Lowton, Chris Wood

Dynamics is the main feature on Football Manager 2018. This depicts the dressing room atmosphere at the club, the various social groups and the hierarchy at the club. In essence, it shows which players will affect one another. So be sure to be careful what words you choose when dealing with the more influential members of the squad. If you upset them, it could cause the dressing room to turn against you and the on the pitch performances will worsen. 

Transfer targets

£10 million is very little in today’s market, so you should just look to buffer out the squad to prepare you for the upcoming season.

High potential centre back – Vukasin Jovanovic (CA 122, PA 155)

With just three centre halves in your squad, you need to bring one more in just in case of injury. With Kevin Long (CA 124, PA 130) not really a threat to the starting lineup, you should bring in someone who has the potential to be a first team starter. Bordeaux defender Vukasin Jovanovic can be brought in for £10 million with starting wages of just £6,000 a week, making him an ideal signing. The 21-year-old has a 122 current ability rating that can rise to a 155 potential, which would make a guaranteed started in a few seasons’ time. His top stats include 15 bravery, 14 composure and 14 aggression.  

Alternative options

  • Lucas Martinez Quarta – Age 21, River, Argentina, CA 129, PA 140-170, Value: £2m, Wage: £5k
  • Clement Lenglet – Age 22, Sevilla, France, CA 135, PA 140-170, Value: £2m, Wage: £10k
  • Jordan Torunarigha – Age 18, Hertha, Germany, CA 124, PA 149, Value: £3m, Wage: £1k
  • Lyanco – Age 20, Torino, Brazil, CA 123, PA 130-160, Value: £3m, Wage: £10k

Players to sell

The Burnley squad is well-balanced, but you can afford to let a few players to strengthen your financial position and to allow some youngsters game time. 

Anders Lindegaard

Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard joined Burnley on a free transfer in September after the injury to Tom Heaton. With Heaton fit as you start your career and Nick Pope a trusted back-up, there is no need for former Manchester United player Lindegaard at the club. You can sell the Dane for around £400,000, making a saving of £7,500 a week in wages.


Fredrik Ulvestad

Fredrik Ulvestad is bottom of the pile in terms of central midfielders at Burnley, and if both Jeff Hendrick and Dean Marney weren’t out injured it wouldn’t be up for debate whether you should sell him or not. With a current ability score of just 103, there is no need to keep the 33-year-old, and you can offload him for around £500,000, freeing up £12,000 a week in your wage budget. 



Burnley certainly do not have the financial prowess of many of the other Premier League clubs, and their situation on FM 2018 reflects that. The overall balance of the club is on the decline, and is the turnover, with The Clarets’ profits soon to turn to loss. The only slight bit of good news is your transfer budget, which could be as high as £60 million next summer. 

Follow the blueprint or go it alone?

You’ve seen what Burnley have done this season, and you have the choice of to whether to copy Sean Dyche’s rugged style to make things difficult for your opponents, or put your own stamp on the club. The Turf Moor club does lack pace, and perhaps in the coming seasons you can add some flying forwards and wingers to your side to add a more exciting brand of football. Dyche has set the bar, but can you raise it even further? 

Burnley first team squad, player roles and ratings

Player Age Pos Role Duty Role Ability CA/ PA
Starting lineup
Tom Heaton31GKGoalkeeperDefend4 star150/ 155
Matt Lowton28DRFull-backSupport3.5 star132/ 135
James Tarkowski24DCRBall playing defenderDefend3.5 star137/ 148
Ben Mee27DCLDefensive centre backAny3.5 star139/ 140
Stephen Ward31DLWing-backDefend3.5 star136/ 136
Steven Defour29DMCLDeep lying PlaymakerDefend4 star141/ 145
Jack Cork28MCRBox to box midfielderSupport3.5 star134/ 139
Johann Berg Gudmundsson26AMRInside forwardSupport3.5 star138/ 140
Robbie Brady25AMLWingerSupport3.5 star140/ 143
Ashley Barnes27STCRDefensive forwardSupport/ defend3 star131/ 133
Sam Vokes27STCLTarget manSupport3.5 star134/ 138
Nick Pope25GKGoalkeeperDefend3 star130/ 140
Kevin Long26D (RC)Defensive centre backAny3 star124/ 130
Phil Bardsley32D (RL)Full-back/ wing-back/ defensive Full-backAutomatic/support/ defend3 star126/ 131
Ashley Westwood27DM M (C)Deep lying playmakerDefend3 star130/ 135
Scott Arfield28M (RLC) AM (RL)Wide midfielderAutomatic/ support3 star130/ 131
Jonathan Walters33M (RL) AM (RLC) ST (C)Defensive wingerSupport3 star125/ 133
Chris Wood25ST (C)Target manSupport3.5 star132/ 136
Anders Lindegaard33GKGoalkeeperDefend2.5 star114/ 135
Charlie Taylor23D (L) WB (L) M (L)Full-backAttack3 star127/ 144
Fredrik Ulvestad33M (C)Advanced playmakerSupport2 star103/ 130
Dean Marney33M (C)Ball winning midfielderSupport3 star128/ 129
Jeff Hendrick25M (C) AM (C)Deep lying playmakerSupport/ defend3.5 star139/ 145
Nakhi Wells27ST (C)Advanced forwardAttack3 star127/ 138

How is your FM save going? Let us know in the comments section below.

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