Board stayed strong - Dyche

Sean Dyche back at Watford in 2013 with his replacement at Vicarage Road, Gianfranco Zola
Sean Dyche back at Watford in 2013 with his replacement at Vicarage Road, Gianfranco Zola

As Sean Dyche celebrates five years at the helm at Turf Moor, he admits his toughest time in the job came a matter of months after being appointed.

And he praised the board of directors for not interfering, and retaining their backing, as the Clarets slipped to the fringes of a relegation battle, in a season which was something of an anomaly.

After winning his first two games in charge, at home to Wolves and Leeds United, there came a run of two wins in eight games, before a sequence of three wins in four games at the turn of the year.

Two wins from the next 12 outings saw outside play-off hopes disappear, and though Bristol City - with Tom Heaton in goal - were beaten 3-1 at Turf Moor in April, defeats at Blackpool and Leeds saw the Clarets dragged within four points of the bottom three.

Seven points from the last nine left Burnley 11th, with 61 points, with Peterborough in the last relegation slot with an unusually high 54.

The rest is history. Despite having to sell star striker Charlie Austin on the eve of the following season, Burnley were promoted back to the Premier League as Championship runners-up behind Leicester City.

Dyche looked back at a testing start in the hot seat: “Before I got here I don’t think there was a big buy-in (from supporters).

“It’s not that they didn’t want me here - that’s probably too strong - but they wanted maybe other people more than me. That’s probably a better way of putting it.

“I think at the time it was Olly (Ian Holloway) and Mick (McCarthy), so I wasn’t the people’s champion.

“You’ve got to win them over, you try and be honest in the media, which I was, and you have to do good work.

“Something that was really clear to me was, behind the results, I knew there was good work being done, but equally you need to win.

“We had a really tough spell, we started well, but had a real tough run, which can happen.

“We arrested it at Charlton with a worldy from Charlie Austin, and then we had a weird end to the season when everyone was looking over their shoulder when the points were really high.

“You know you’ve got to get results, while doing the work for the benefit of the long-term. You can’t lose sight of either or you’re in trouble. It’s way tougher than people think.

“Fans don’t know all the work that goes on behind the scenes, there’s still the thought that you roll ‘em out twice a week and that’s it.

“Not all the work, planning, analysis, sports science, rest, recuperation, diet, everything we put in.

“But there was a lot going on in those months, to that summer, and it was good work going on, but you’re only judged on results.

“For me, longevity is bringing the other stuff into line, then the results will come, but you have to get enough results to make it work.”

Dyche was Mike Garlick and John Banaszkiewicz’s - then co-chairmen - first appointment, and they saw the groundwork being put in behind the scenes.

“They just let me get on with it,” he said.

“They might have privately had conversations about what they thought, but, massive credit to the board for never getting involved in the football - ‘why are you doing this, why are you doing that?’ Never.

“They would say ‘what are you doing?’ And I’d say, this and that, and they’d say, ‘okay’. We move forward.

“It’s not easy when they’re wondering and questioning, but a lot of different parties stayed strong when there were question marks.

“If I’d had 10 years at it, people say ‘he’ll sort it out. He’s had 10 years doing it’, but I’d only had a season.”

Dyche had only left his first managerial role as Watford boss in the summer of 2012, as the Pozzo family took over at Vicarage Road and installed Gianfranco Zola as boss.

But despite his achievements at Turf Moor - not only winning two promotions and keeping Burnley in the Premier League, but doing it on a budget that also enabled the club to enhance their infrastructure, including a £10.6m state of the att training facility, Dyche knows he isn’t fire-proof.

He accepts he has to continue to get results on he pitch, and the past is just that: “It’s impossible to be in a comfort zone.

“Even now people say ‘you can be here for as long as you want’. That’s not the case at all because people here will change their opinion very quickly. If results go against you, for whatever reason, there’s no reality in the business – you could have five injuries to key personnel, no-one cares. All it does is extend your results timeline.

“People have faith in you over a long period, people have faith in you they extend that period. But there still will come a time when people say ‘I want them out’.

“I’m not afraid of it, I get it. The good thing about being sacked is that you don’t’ fear it. The first time you think ‘that’s not good’. You wake up the next day your kids are still there, and your missus.

“Life still goes on. I know where the game lives in my life and it’s nowhere near as important as them.”