Where do Burnley turn now to replace Sean Dyche?

Burnley fans will still be feeling the pain of relegation, some more than initially at the final whistle on Sunday.

By Chris Boden
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 12:30 pm

But when the dust settles, and the inquiry into how six-successive seasons in the Premier League came to a shuddering halt, thoughts must turn quickly to who Sean Dyche’s permanent successor will be.

Speculation has linked a vast array of managers with the post, with wildly varying degrees of experience, success and playing styles.

So where do the Clarets, and chairman Alan Pace turn?

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Sporting Braga's Portuguese coach Carlos Carvalhal gestures during the Portuguese League football match between SC Braga and FC Porto at the Municipal stadium of Braga on April 25, 2022. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images)

Pre-Pace, certainly over the last 25 years or so, under a number of chairmen, appointments have veered from one extreme to the other.

As when Frank Teasdale appointed Chris Waddle in the summer of 1997, Pace seems to be drawn to the big-name appointment, with some substance to reports that Anderlecht head coach Vincent Kompany was high up the wish list - albeit with the Manchester City legend reportedly only interested in the post if Burnley retained their Premier League status.

Kompany was also believed to be prepared to work with data in terms of recruitment, something which ALK had been looking to implement at Burnley - moving towards more of a ‘moneyball’ method, bringing in younger talent with sell on potential, as with Nathan Collins, Maxwel Cornet and Connor Roberts.

Wayne Rooney is of a similar standing - a modern great at the beginning of his managerial career, albeit with 18-months’ experience in the Championship.

However, with the takeover at Derby edging towards completion, with Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford involved with Chris Kirchner’s group, it would appear the Manchester United and England record-breaker would be happy to stay put at Pride Park for now.

Kompany has moved to a 4-4-2, from his preferred 4-3-3, but would be a sea change from Sean Dyche’s use of the format, with a more possession-based game, with much fluidity to his side’s play.

The Belgian has also developed a young side, while Dyche left behind the oldest team in the Premier League.

Rooney has also used 4-4-2, but usually favoured 4-2-3-1, and, unlike the somewhat stubborn Dyche, was more adaptable, also utilising 4-3-3, 4-5-1 and 4-4-1-1, as well as a back three.

His side were efficient in their pressing, and became an attractive watch, as they battled against a 21-point deduction.

Also linked with the Burnley job was the ultimate firefighter Sam Allardyce, who, you can only assume, was only a possibility with regards to staying in the Premier League, and not mounting a rebuilding job in the Championship.

Chris Wilder was another name in the frame, initially failing to shut down links with the Turf Moor job, before a clear-the-air meeting with Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson in late April.

Wilder said: "I want to work in the Premier League and I want to work in the Premier League with Middlesbrough, that's the be all and end all.

“I think anybody who does anything at any trade wants to do it at the highest level.

"There has been no contact and I had a fabulous meeting with the chairman yesterday for two or three hours and then we went out for something to eat. I'm fully committed.

"If I get a phone call or he gets a phone call, we've got an open and fully transparent relationship and we speak to each other all the time.

"I'm ambitious, but I'm ambitious with Middlesbrough. I want us to get in the Premier League and we're making plans. There are medium and long term plans.

"This is still a big rebuild and I think maybe one thing recent form has shown is that, even though our season is not dead and buried, there is still a lot of work to be done."

On the face of it, it would appear unlikely that link would be revisited, but if Wilder was reconsidered, it would again mean a stark change tactically, with Wilder playing a flexible 3-5-2/5-3-2 with overlapping wide centre backs - a ploy not used before in the Premier League.

He used the three centre backs again at Boro, as they fell just short of the Championship play-offs.

Carlos Carvalhal is another name who has surfaced since Dyche’s departure, and another with Championship experience at Sheffield Wednesday.

The Portuguese coach’s Wednesday and Swansea sides both played with attacking intent and tactical flexibility, while at his last club Braga, who he led to the Europa League last eight, his team was described by the Independent’s Miguel Delaney as “quickly going from classic Portuguese-style defensive organisation to ultra-modern German attacking.”

As Carvahal himself said: “We don’t prepare a team to play with a system, or a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. We prepare a team to play with various principles of the game. It’s provoked debate in Portugal. It is hard to describe.

“If you ask me how we prepare the team, I look to the opponent as a [holistic] ideal. I look at them like pieces, and try to see where are the spaces from how they play, or what spaces we can exploit; where we can push a player to explore. If a defender usually goes to the attacker very fast, there is space open behind him. We try to look for that.

“It’s all about this: spaces, principles, how we move the ball to create spaces we want. It’s not about formation. It’s why it’s so different. You can see different players in different positions on the pitch.

“The main idea is like this. If you look to England, and I ask you how Manchester City plays, you will understand it’s a collective game, an associative game, very good passing. If Liverpool, it’s amazing transition, very powerful when they go to goal. In this moment, if you ask someone in Portugal to describe our team, they must say they are very good with the ball, very well organised, very good when they lose the ball, very good when they win it again, very good in transition.

“My proposal is to try to create a culture where a team is very good in a lot of things.”

That ultra-modern approach would be a big difference from Burnley’s framework under Dyche, where “pressing is the new passing” - as would Kjetil Knutsen of Bodo/Glimt.

The Norwegian coach has built a side in a 4-3-3 with an intense, purposeful possession-based game: “Dominating doesn’t just mean scoring but also having the possession of the ball and dictating the rules of the game.

“We want to create a team identity that encompasses everyone; players, staff, managers, fans. We must confront ourselves to be able to create this ‘Bodo model’.”

That identity, however, has similarities with the DNA of Dyche’s Burnley, legs, hearts and minds, everyone pulling in the same direction.

The club has gone from Waddle, to the pragmatism and ultimately gung ho football of Stan Ternent, to the meticulous, safety-first approach of Steve Cotterill, to Owen Coyle taking the hand brake off, only to be too open after winning promotion to the Premier League.

From Coyle’s personality, we had the dour Brian Laws, before the board opted for the bright, young hope Eddie Howe.

His split centre backs and high full backs - trying to play a style that could adapt in the Premier League - saw the side score with ease, but concede as many, before Dyche’s arrival, and nigh-on a decade of success, built around some old-fashioned ideals, adapted for the modern game.

Whichever way Pace turns, it is going to be an interesting new era.