Welfare of players and managers must be a priority - Dyche

With the news this week that Everton's former England winger Aaron Lennon is receiving care and treatment for a stress-related illness, Clarets boss Sean Dyche feels player and manager welfare in the game must be prioritised.
Sean DycheSean Dyche
Sean Dyche

Lennon was detained under the Mental Health Act by police for assessment, though the 30-year-old is not thought to be suffering from a long-standing mental health issue, and is expected to make a full recovery in the short term.

There can be a stigma about opening up and admitting you have a problem, but, in the high-pressure modern game, Dyche hopes that will fade away, with the number of players looking for help on the up: "The future of the game won’t just be on the pitch. It might come from the growth of the superpower players who almost have their own mini staff.

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"The biggest thing is that the money’s not relevant. I don’t know Aaron Lennon’s case but it’s a demanding career.

"There’s a lot of pressure. We wish him well. That will become a big part of the game in the future."

There is help available from the League Managers Association and Professional Footballers Association, as Dyche explained: "The LMA are accessible for that (welfare), I've not actually used it, but they do offer support if you should need it.

"You'll all know about the health support, I'm sure if I made a call and said I could do with some help psychologically, that would be available.

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"The PFA are getting stronger with that, clubs are already, building deeper specialist care - very quickly they can open doors for players that need help.

"There is that stigma attached, and we're all guilty of it, 'oh, get on with it' - it's our generation.

"But the new generation I think will be more open minded to it, more Americanised in their thinking.

"I've never lived there, but I get the impression they're a bit more open to it.

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"You don't want it to be a crutch - it's not going to help anyone, but if people need real support, you've got to do what you can do.

"The days of saying 'get on with it', are miles gone.

"Getting on with a bruised rib is different to getting on with it when you're depressed, or the anxiety is driving you mad."

From Dyche's perspective, he feels the pressure in management is enhanced year on year, with the financial incentives for getting in and staying in the Premier League, and demands from supporters and boards of directors:

"It's the most non-reality bound business, management, and it's getting worse every year.

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"I've only been doing it six years and it's getting worse - there's no reality to it at all, or minimal reality to any one in any given situation.

"I speak to loads of managers and I've never heard one yet say 'no, everything's good actually'.

"'Fans think we're about right and understand, the board think we're about right' - we're one of the best ones actually, there's a bit of reality here.

"But even here, we got beat by Man United and a few were 'what are we doing getting beat by Man U?'

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"That's Burnley by the way, apparently we should beat Man U now.

"But our board are pretty solid, my staff, the players...

"But we're not the norm, it's madness out there and getting worse.

"There will be ongoing care, probably company care, in house - some form of care."

Dyche has methods of dealing with the pressure, but is aware of the dangers of high blood pressure and anxiety: "It's the silent killer, you might feel dizzy and all of a sudden your blood pressure is through the roof.

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"One manager I worked with came out of a job and saw his doctor and was told 'you do realise you should be dead'.

"He immediately sent him to hospital for three days to calm him down - he'd been sacked a couple of days before and his blood pressure was ridiculous.

"It took about a month for his health to start returning.

"You don't feel it, but it's how you handle and deal with it, naturally some people are mad worriers or laid back, impatient, you can only really keep an eye on it.

"I think, with being an ex-player, you're quite in tune with your body and I know when I'm not right, I can feel it, and there's times when it affects me, but I think I balance it out well.

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"It's the reality of life. I use simplistic ways, I see my friends I've known since I was five, talk to them, and it levels you out.

"When you're in the cauldron you need to get out of it, and when you're out of it, you need to access what's outside."