Jackson hoping club can unite and get behind the cause after shock Dyche dismissal
Burnley Under 23s boss Mike Jackson – in interim charge of the first team – is hoping the club can unite around the common cause of fighting relegation after the surprise dismissal of Sean Dyche.
Dyche and his backroom staff were relieved of their duties on Friday, with Burnley four points adrift of safety.
Jackson was put in charge, along with Academy Director Paul Jenkins, Under 23s goalkeeping coach Connor King and club captain Ben Mee for Sunday’s game at West Ham.
And Jackson – a promotion-winner with Bury, Preston and Blackpool – admitted it was a shock when he was informed by chairman Alan Pace: "I came in in the morning, preparing for the Under 23s’ game, and the chairman came into the office and I was told about it then.
"I didn’t know anything about it, it was one of those ‘this is what’s happening, I’d like you and Paul Jenkins to take over the team for now, prepare the game for Sunday’.
"So it all came as a bit of a shock to be honest, but it doesn’t surprise me in football sometimes.
"We’re just here to prepare the lads the best we can to make sure they’re ready for the challenge on Sunday.”
And as far as Jackson is aware, the arrangement is currently for Sunday’s game only, as Pace looks at how to replace Dyche: “All we’ve been asked to do is prepare the lads for the game on Sunday, that’s the focus now, to make sure the group is ready to go.”
Much has been made of elements of player unrest, and while some players were believed to have some issue with Dyche, be that playing style, or lack of game time, that is only to be expected, especially in a team which has struggled for results this season.
Jackson hopes everyone can come together to try and dig the side out of trouble in the remaining eight games: "I think it’s obviously come as a shock to the players, I think that’s human nature, but they’re an experienced group, they’ve come together and for us now it’s about the whole club coming together, everyone here, the fans, just bunkering in, taking away the noise and just concentrating on what we need to do.
“I can understand why you think they might dwell on it, but there is no time for that
" If it was a really young group who hadn’t been around the block, then I would be a bit more worried, but I am not worried about that.
"This group has been together a while, they have done it in the past and come together before and it is about doing that again now.”
The dressing room had been somewhat self-policing under Dyche, with the culture he built well embedded, and Jackson added: “That’s what you ultimately want to try and achieve, I think every manager wants a dressing room that can police itself, you don’t want to to be in there all the time, you want to know you’ve set foundations and principles and expectations from the group and hope you have the leaders to carry it forward.
“And that’s what the group will be trying to do now.
“We have to use the culture that has been created and build on that, take the good from that.
"That is a big part of what Burnley stands for and what it has been, that is it’s identity and you don’t just strip that away.
"That is embedded and that comes from the values that the manager has put into this group and that are in the building.
"That is the values of the club. They are hard-working values and won’t change, they are values close to me as well.”
Jackson did speak to Dyche on Friday, but, as so often in these situations, found it difficult to know what to say: “I spoke to him yesterday when he came in to speak to the players. It is not easy, what do you say to someone who has lost his job and has done so much for the club?
"I don’t know what you say to him, being deadly honest. It is sad but you have to find a way to move on from that now but he has done a terrific job.
“You have to look at the positives from this.
"There is a foundation that has been built and they (the owners) are looking to improve.
"We have to look at it like that, but for us it is full concentration on making sure we are ready for these games and that the group is right.
"We have to do things that will have the most impact now, we can’t concentrate on things that are out of control at this moment in time.”
As regards style of play, which has come under criticism from sections of the fanbase, Jackson understands Dyche’s methods, which were passed down through the age groups: “That’s one thing the gaffer did here, in terms of aligning a way of playing, and a lot of clubs do that, to try and fit similar to the first team.
“But the Under 23s is a lot different - you try and develop players, technically, mentally and physically, so it’s a little bit different in that case.
“This is completely different, this is a Premier League game, and these players have been around and know how to play - they know the game.
"But there is a lot of good here, you look at the run of three games against Brighton, Spurs and Palace, the comeback against Everton, and it’s just reminding the group ‘can we be better every day with the identity of what Burnley is?’
"I don’t think we’ll change the way we play within a day, we might tinker with a few details, but there’ll be no wholesale changes.”