Dyche enjoying plotting a way through Burnley's tricky Premier League spell

I can vividly remember speaking to Sean Dyche early in his tenure at Burnley.

Thursday, 1st November 2018, 10:30 pm
Sean Dyche at Charlton in March 2013, the scene of the Clarets only win in 12 league games early in his tenure

It was April, 2013. Things were not entirely going to plan, as a run of one win in 12 league games left the Clarets 13th, but only four points above the Championship drop zone.

Dyche, then only 41, was not anxious in the slightest, however, relishing the challenge: “Put it this way, calm seas don’t make good sailors.

“I’m in a brilliant learning place at the minute so I use these times wisely and think them through.

“Some find it stressful, for me it’s always intrigue and interest.

“The only stress for me is making sure the team are ready and prepared and mentally to go and win the next game. But when you do your business properly and appropriately it gives you good faith to not be as stressed.”

Burnley went out and won the next game, beating a Bristol City side containing Tom Heaton 3-1 at Turf Moor, and while another three-game winless run followed, seven points from the last nine saw the Clarets finish 11th, seven points clear of trouble.

The first of two promotions followed the season after, with a relegation in between.

Amid the glorious ride, there have been testing times, and this is currently one of those periods, with Burnley 15th in the Premier League, three points above Fulham in 18th, having won two of their first 10 league games.

This week, Dyche racked up six years at the helm, arguably Burnley’s best manager since the legendary Harry Potts.

And while he had admitted he doesn’t expect to be in football management at the age of 65 - like Saturday’s opponent, West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, he admits he enjoys the tricky spells in charge.

Musing on his longevity at the club, he said: “It isn’t easy these days. The demands aren’t just about winning, they’re about winning in the right way, and we want this and we want that.

“That’s why I said I wouldn’t be here at 65. Eventually, you drown in the nonsense.

“It’s not the game. The game’s the best bit. The training and the games are the best bits. All the rest, you go: Pfffff.

“And don’t forget the other thing that’s changed, is the way the game’s going financially. In the 80s, managers were living a very good lifestyle, working hard, but not earning enough to go ‘That’s me’.

“If you are in the Championship or the Premier League for enough years, you’re probably going to be in a financial position where you can make a decision. That’s the difference.

“In that era, managers kept going, because they knew what they were doing, but also they had to provide.

“The past 10 or 15 years have changed that for players and for managers.

“So I would imagine that by the time I come to 65, I’d like to think I have a choice as to whether I do it. It’s not about whether I would or I wouldn’t, it’s that I could choose to carry on or not.”

The job is an addiction for some managers, but Dyche admits that isn’t the case with him: “No, it’s not for me. I’m not football obsessed. I’m obsessed with what we do, but I’m not football obsessed.

“I don’t go home and watch every single bit of football. I couldn’t, because I like to see my kids at some point.

“I’m not obsessed with it. I’m more obsessed with the people in it, not the game.

“The game comes with the people. I like working with the people, and seeing if we can get more out of them. It just happens to be packaged up in football. It’s packaged up in everything.

“I like that side of it, motivating and working with people. Can we get better? Can we improve? Me included.”

Asked whether he has spoken to his family about a retirement age, he smiled: “My missus says every year that I’m here: ‘Is it time?’

“I’ve been away for six years. I don’t know.

“I wouldn’t be clever enough to think you can choose. Retirement in football sometimes happens.

“Suddenly, you haven’t got a club and no one wants you. I don’t think you can choose it.

“There are some managers who could probably go, ‘Yeah, I’ve had enough,’ because they’ll always get another club.

“But I don’t think I’m in that category. I’m still a long way from deciding that I’ve had enough.

“I still love the demands here. Who knows what comes next? But I still love the demands of being here.

“When times are tricky, it’s just as enjoyable in a weird way as it is when it’s great times.

“It’s good fuel for you as a manager, because you get stretched more. When you get a time like this, with the Europa League and a few question marks, I quite like that. It’s like: ‘Come on. You’re getting stretched a bit. What are you going to do about it?’ It keeps you going. Not just in football, in life.”

However the next six years pan out, Dyche’s Burnley legacy is secure - you only have to look at the training ground, never mind the two promotions, and a highest finish in 44 years, earning a return to Europe after 50 years away.

So much so, the Princess Royal pub was renamed the Royal Dyche at the end of last season, and it’s fair to say he will be fondly remembered in years to come.

He isn’t focused on that however, just continuing to do his best for the club: “I don’t really worry too much about that. As long as people respect the fact that you work hard, that’ll do me.

“I’ve never really been into that. I don’t particularly do it for the pomp, the glory and the fame.

“I played for 20 years in my career, and I know the good, the bad and the ugly of that. I just leave it all alone.

“I do it because I like doing it, I think I can work hard at doing it, I can have an effect doing it, and if good comes from that, then that’s fantastic.

“But I sleep easy either way. I work hard, I do what I think is correct. If it works, that’s brilliant. If it doesn’t, then I try to make sense of it, and make it work. And if none of that works, then you ain’t that ******* good, so it’s time to try to sleep and have another pint.

“But joking apart, it’s a lovely thing when people give you these accolades because someone has thought it appropriate to do that, but it’s not something I ever thought: ‘I want that to happen.’ I do respect it, though.

“I did genuinely meet the landlady and say: ‘Look, don’t do it.’ She said: ‘I’m going to do it.’ I said: ‘All right. I’m not offended if you don’t do it. You don’t have to do it because you put on a board that you should do it.

“You don’t have any responsibility to me to do it.’ That’s the truth.”