Burnley boss Sean Dyche on his respect for Sheffield United's Chris Wilder on and off the pitch!
And, during lockdown, Dyche jokes that Wilder had the upper hand in who got through the most wine!
Both sides are in the mix for European football, and Dyche spoke of his relationship with Wilder, someone he has great respect for.
Asked what the pair discuss in their regular conversations, Dyche said: “Not so much football ideas - now and again we’ll chew the fat over life in football, the challenges, but not tactical things, just really catching up.
“Same with Steve Bruce now and again.
“Sometimes there’s a talking point - obviously the lockdown and things like that, we caught up with who was drinking the most wine, and he won by a mile (Wilder)!
“Just silly things, we have a bit of fun now and again, and sometimes it’s the serious side of what we do and question each other about the realities, particularly in lockdown because we didn’t know which way it was going to go.
“But he’s a really good guy, he was a good player as well, and he’s turned out to be a very good manager.“
The Blades have deservedly received high praise for the way they have performed in their first season back in the Premier League, but Dyche doesn’t see it as a competition between two sides who have surprised many by being in the top 10, in the race for Europe: “We’re not looking to finish above them, just finish as high up the table as we can.
“Chris I know well, we have some similar thoughts, as people, on the game, not about styles, but the underbelly of a group, a team.
“I think he’s got a real team who connects and wants to play hard and fair.
“They do the right things to be effective, I don’t think he’s trying to say we play this way or that way, they do what they need to do to try and be competitive as a minimum, and we do that as well.
“The minimum we want to be is competitive.
“On their day they’re a very good side, off their day, they’re not quite as good, like a lot of teams, but they’ve found their day well this season and often.
“The main similarity is they’re not a team of stars on paper, but they’re a real team that connect, they’ve got a style that suits them, they’ve played it for a long time and everyone knows their roles.
“It’s an interesting dynamic. We seem to be questioned about playing an old-fashioned 4-4-2, and I remind people (Carlo) Ancelotti plays it, and done a bit in his life to be fair!
“Chris plays in a system which is like a 3-5-2, and they’ve been playing it quite a long time.
“I like the way he doesn’t try and over-egg it, he likes what he does with it, but he isn’t trying to say ‘we’re doing this, we’re doing that’, he just goes about his business.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for that, because it’s easy in this business to start getting carried away with yourself.
“I don’t think he does, and I don’t think his team does either, they graft and work and do whatever they have to to try and win games.“
Wilder could even rival title-winning boss Jurgen Klopp for the manager of the year award, although Dyche respects all his top-flight competitors: “Every manager deserves credit, everyone is fighting for some thing different, there’s not many teams fighting for the top prize.
“Managers at the bottom, if they pull out of that, and keep teams up...there’s so many different ways you can measure managers.
“Of course he’s up amongst them, to come into the Premier League and deliver what they are, and who knows where it can finish...
“Are there other managers I look at who are doing brilliant jobs? As a manager you often know the internal resources of what managers are working with, and some of the situations they are working in, and he’s definitely in amongst the managers who have done brilliantly this season.
“But I must say, I think it’s not just the manager, the staff and the team have been excellent all season.“