In the recent past, Crystal Palace, Watford and Southampton have all had managerial vacancies, and all of them overlooked Burnley manager Sean Dyche for the role. The Englishman may not have wanted to leave his current club anyway, but it is certain a very capable manager is not getting the credit he deserves in the Premier League.
Burnley were drifting near the bottom of the Championship with a lack of transfer funds when Dyche took over in 2012. Thanks to his determination, he has transformed Burnley into a resilient and efficient side. He has won promotion to the Premier League twice, and last season managed to stay in England’s top flight with some ease, as the Clarets finished 16th, six points clear of relegation.
The 46-year-old has an excellent record of overcoming and getting results against stronger and wealthier teams than his. In 2014-15, he claimed a draw against Manchester United and a draw and victory over Manchester City; last season, he beat both Liverpool and Everton and draws against Manchester United and champions Chelsea, as well as being denied points against Arsenal by late goals both home and away. This season, he has already claimed scalps away to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, picking up a 3-2 win and 1-1 draw in the process.
Through precise tactics aimed at reducing the threat of opposing teams and first-class organisation, Dyche succeeds at defeating more skilled sides with strong defensive displays. Secondly, he develops his players to understand the importance of discipline.
He has drawn some criticism for his side’s lack of goals in the past, but he has been successful in ensuring his players can assess the weaknesses of opponents during games going forward. When they won the Championship in 2015-16, Burnley scored the joint most goals of anyone.
An exceptional tactician, Dyche has masterminded a large number of excellent victories in his career. Although the standard of football from the Burnley manager isn’t always headline-grabbing, similar to Tony Pulis at West Bromwich Albion, Dyche is organised, extremely effective and tactically shrewd.
Predominantly, he sets up his teams in a 4-4-2 formation with two banks of four. Occasionally, he uses a 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 and started the 2017-18 season with Jeff Hendrick playing behind Sam Vokes. Burnley’s attacking threat tends to revolve around a player with pace, such as André Gray, alongside a player with an aerial threat, such as Vokes or new signing Chris Wood. His tactics are very traditional, but are always effective in making life difficult for the opposition.
Transfer Policy and Man-Management
Dyche combines a shrewd transfer policy with his ability to develop players well. The likes of Michael Keane, Vokes and Ben Mee have all matured under him, and he is very perceptive in the transfer market. Purchasing players ignored by other clubs such as Joey Barton, Stephen Defour and latest signings Jack Cork and Jonathan Walters has proven to be an effective tactic. He works tirelessly to track down cheaper players whilst trying to maintain Burnley’s Premier League status.
One of Dyche’s biggest successes in the transfer market is Joey Barton. Using his great man-management, he was able to get the most out of a player who has a reputation for being difficult, and has excelled at installing a positive team spirit in the squad. The manager knows how to win the respect of the dressing room where other, high-profile managers have failed.
Dyche’s calm persona
The Burnley manager explained his calmness on the touchline after their win at Crystal Palace last season:
“I just try to stay factual, focussed, and it is real, authentic. This is not a spin. This is who I am – boring.”
Dyche’s calmness helps him adapt to the vigour and the intense nature of the Premier League. His dedication, focus and this calmness he transmits are reasons why clubs should give him a chance. Fans of Burnley often feel assured that with Dyche in charge their team is giving all they can.
Bias Against English Managers
Premier League clubs and the media have generally ignored the Burnley manager’s achievements, which begs the question of whether there is a lack of appreciation for English managers.
The likes of Dyche and Eddie Howe have struggled to stay in the limelight, and the influx of foreign owners, many of whom work with agents abroad, whose contacts are mainly foreign, has made life difficult for the handful of English managers whose records match those abroad. This is an increasing trend in football, and since Dyche’s style of play is not exactly “fashionable”, it may work against him.
Regardless, after occupying his position at Burnley for five years and bringing very consistent success, surely he deserves his opportunity once the next appealing vacancy becomes available.
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