Sean Dyche’s delight as former Claret Michael Duff looks to add League 2 title to promotion with Cheltenham Town.

It’s five years to the week since Michael Duff celebrated he final game of his playing career with the Championship title at Charlton Athletic.
Michael Duff celebrates promotion with Cheltenham TownMichael Duff celebrates promotion with Cheltenham Town
Michael Duff celebrates promotion with Cheltenham Town

Then 38, the centre back came on for the last five minutes - his first action since Boxing Day - as he signed off with a third promotion to the Premier League.

Sean Dyche had spotted his coaching potential, and offered him a job coaching Burnley’s Under 18s, with Duff then making the step up to the Under 23s, before his first club Cheltenham Town offered him the top job in September 2018.

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Last season saw the Robins lose out in the play-off semi-final to Northampton Town, but they have bounced back in style this season, winning their first automatic promotion in the EFL, and today they could be crowned League 2 champions.

Dyche is delighted to see him enjoying success on his own terms: "We gave him a chance and he learned his own way here and he has done brilliantly down there because he calmed it straight away.

"They had a solid beginning and went close last year, with a tough one to swallow when you are leading (in the play-off semi-finals) and then you lose.

"To regroup, sign players and get it all back to where he wanted it and to and get promoted is fantastic.

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"I sent him a couple of messages the other night (after promotion) and speak to him now and again and share views, and I am really, really pleased from him."

Duff took the disappointment of last season and kicked on to go one better this term, much like Burnley recovered from relegation in 2015 to win the Championship title at the first attempt, and Dyche added: "It is really difficult, that is tough, getting relegated to go back up is tough.

”They are real challenges to keep players motivated with the positive thoughts you need over the summer and then work with the group and add a little bit to move it forward.

”He has done great and it will mean a lot to him because of his links to that area.

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"I think he trusted us, and we played him when many thought he was out the door, and we worked with him and once he has that trust in you he gives you a lot, and he did give us a lot and put a lot in for the group.

"He was always one (who I felt could be a manager) in his own way and own style.

”That is important in my belief, because you have to be authentic with players.

"I have met him a few times and his staff when I have been down at Northampton and it is always good to see him."