Similarities between Sean Dyche and Gareth Southgate as mentality wins the day for England at Euro 2020

England’s momentous win over Germany on Tuesday evening saw the Three Lions end a hoodoo stretching back to their most famous day.

By Chris Boden
Thursday, 1st July 2021, 12:30 pm
Danny Ings celebrates the winner at Blackburn in 2014
Danny Ings celebrates the winner at Blackburn in 2014

Not since the World Cup Final in 1966 had England beaten their old rivals in a knockout game - losing the quarter-final in extra time four years later in Mexico, before losing on penalties in the World Cup semi-final in Turin in 1990, and six years later in the last four of Euro 96 at Wembley.

There had been the 1-0 win in Charleroi in Euro 2000 in a group stage where both nations were eliminated, and a year later, the memorable 5-1 win in World Cup qualifying.

But, in 2002, it was Germany who made the final, not England.

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Harry Kane after making it 2-0 against Germany

It all meant Tuesday weighed on everyone’s minds before the game. As Gary Lineker famously said: “Twenty two men chase a ball for 90 minutes, and at the end, the Germans always win.”

What has history to do with football, however?

Games in the recent past, with the same personnel? Fair enough.

I think everyone watching the Chelsea v Manchester City Champions League final was aware Chelsea had the Indian sign over City, particularly since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival, and certain tactics could come into play again.

City fans would rather have played Real Madrid, put it that way. And so it proved.

Over decades though? How can that influence games in the now?

Gareth Southgate was spot on - unlike at Wembley 25 years ago - saying pre-match: “I can’t win this game, it will be the players that win it.

“The opportunity is theirs.

“What happened to me has helped in so many different areas of my life, but it’s of no importance to this group of players.

“There are always records in the Premier League of teams who haven’t won at certain grounds for 30 years, but at some point that record gets broken.

“All those barriers are there to be knocked down in life and that’s the mentality we have to have.”

That mentality very much reminded me of Sean Dyche and the way he has approached things from day one at Burnley.

Just over a month into his reign, in December 2012, Blackburn Rovers came to Turf Moor, with Dyche reminded that the Clarets hadn’t beaten the old enemy since 1979.

Burnley drew with a late Sam Vokes header, before David Dunn’s offside equaliser kept Rovers’ run going later in the season.

The Clarets were again denied by a freakish Jordan Rhodes leveller the following season, before, in March 2014, Burnley got the win their fans had long dreamed of.

As he said before that game: “The expectation is on Blackburn because of the history.

“We haven’t beaten them for 30-odd years.

“There’s a lot of expectation on them because they’ll be thinking we need to keep that record going.

“They’re at home and the record suggests we haven’t had that edge to beat them, so there will be a big expectation from their end of things.

“They’ve got to deal with that. They’ve got to come out and deliver a performance.

“We can go there with freedom. We want to play with freedom anyway.”

And that mentality delivered, as Blackburn wilted under the pressure, Burnley playing with ice in their heads and fire in their hearts to win 2-1 - the first of four-successive victories over Rovers.

Now the tables are turned, with Rovers 11 years and counting since their last win over the Clarets.

Dyche has shown time and again that history counts for nothing, whether claiming a first win at Ipswich since 1970, first win at Bolton since 1975 and that success at Ewood Park in his first promotion season, or going on to complete a clean sweep of wins over the Big Six in the Premier League, claiming first wins at Anfield, Old Trafford and Arsenal since the 1970s along the way.

Even taking Burnley into Europe for the first time since 1957.

Southgate is clearly made of similar stuff.

Even looking at the way he exorcised England’s penalty demons at Russia 2018, beating Columbia on spot kicks after three defeats from three World Cup shootouts, with a 14% record, the worst of any national team to take part in five shootouts.

England conceded a late equaliser that night, so momentum was with the South Americans in extra time, and Columbia even went first in the shootout, which increases your chances of winning.

But despite the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Sven Goran Eriksson and Roy Hodgson previously warning you can’t replicate the pressure of a shoot out in training, Southgate spoke of “owning the process”, practicing over and over again.

They even won again on spot kicks in the Nations League third place play-off against Switzerland in 2019.

You hope, should it come to it again this summer, Southgate’s planning will pay off again.

Whatever you feel of his tactics and team selections, you can’t argue that he hasn’t changed England’s mentality, and off the pitch, the way he and his players represent the nation has been admirable.

As for Dyche, maybe he could fill the top job one day, but let’s hope for Burnley that day is a long time in coming and he continues to enjoy the sort of success he has been so vital to for the best part of a decade now.