A Throwback in Claret: How Sean Dyche Broke the Mold to Make Burnley a Competitor

Burnley sits seventh in the Premier League table and is tied on points with Liverpool and Arsenal under the guidance of its in-demand manager.
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Modern day football. An era where dominance is measured by how many titles you win, how much you spend, how much your players earn, how big your stadium is, how many Twitter followers your club has, and so on. 

However, away from all the glamour and grandeur of the Premier League's big hitters, there has been a movement more akin to that of the footballing mentality of yesteryear happening up in Lancashire over the course of the last five years. 

Little old Burnley, fresh from losing boss Eddie Howe to Bournemouth, were languishing in 14th place and five points outside of the playoff positions in the Championship when Sean Dyche rocked up at Turf Moor; his only previous job in management being at Watford which ended with the sack. 

The Clarets had conceded 29 goals in 13 games prior to the former defender's appointment, and the Burnley faithful had justified reservations for their future under Dyche with the Kettering born manager's credentials clouded with ambiguity. 

Evidently, Dyche's first focus would be directed towards the porous defense he had adopted, an aspect of the game that he has prided himself on throughout his career both as a player and a manager. The 46-year-old steadied the ship in his first season, ultimately finishing 11th, seven points off the playoff places, but his project at Turf Moor was merely in its infancy. 

The following season saw Dyche take his charges to altitudes that may have given him and most of his squads nosebleeds as the Clarets earned promotion to the Premier League as Championship runner ups, conceding just 37 goals in 46 games. 

The sale of Charlie Austin to QPR on the eve of the season threatened to derail Dyche's pre season preparations, but his man management skills prevailed against QPR's 'spend now, think later' policy as Danny Ings and Sam Vokes struck up a potent partnership, scoring 21 and 20 goals respectively. 

The season that followed all of the Clarets' hard work was nothing to write home about, not on the pitch at least. Burnley succumbed to relegation in their first season amongst England's elite since 2010 after Dyche refused to invest heavily in his squad, a decision which many outside of the club criticized, but the former Watford boss had a more sustainable plan in place. 

Many would view relegation as the be all and end all for their clubs, desperately scampering to not lose their best players whilst struggling to keep their heads above water after lavish spending in an attempt to beat the drop. Not Burnley, not Dyche. 

Upon suffering relegation, Burnley lost their two most high profile performers in the shape of Danny Ings and Kieran Tripper to Liverpool and Tottenham respectively for minimal fees, but the reaction to losing the pair just emphasized the immensity of the planning and structure that Dyche had installed into the club. 

Burnley signed Matthew Lowton from Aston Villa to replace Tripper just three days after his departure for a shrewd fee of £1m, and later reacted to the loss of Ings by capturing Brentford hotshot Andre Gray for around £11m, a club record fee for the Clarets.


Dyche, excluding the departures of the aforementioned pair and Jason Shackell, managed to keep the rest of his squad together for the upcoming Championship season, and spent £10m of the windfall money from their single top flight campaign on improving the facilities at the club's Barnfield training facilities, which was a key part of his long term vision for the club.

Burnley remarkably won promotion at the first time of asking - embarking on an incredible 23 game unbeaten run in the process - to win the Championship, again conceding just 37 goals whilst amassing an astonishing 93 points over the course of the season. Gray finished the season with 25 goals to justify the fee spent on him, and Dyche' calm approach was beginning to reap rewards. 

Now in a much more stable financial position, Burnley dipped into the coffers to lure Robbie Brady from Norwich for around £13.5m whilst also capturing Jeff Hendrick from Derby for a reported £10.6m. Dyche is a measured boss, one who requires a player of specific personnel and character to enable his team to play cohesively whilst to his liking. 

Burnley managed to survive their first season back in the Premier League despite winning just once on the road in the entire campaign, and after the departures of key performers Michael Keane and Gray to Everton and Watford respectively for fees of £30m and £18.5m coupled with a run of seven losses in 12 to end the season, the 2017/18 campaign looked set for more mediocrity despite the off field expertise. 

On the contrary, Dyche's Burnley side do not comply with the norms. Where other clubs may have panic bought and splashed their new found cash on a square peg for a round hole, Dyche promoted from within as well as bought sensibly. 

James Tarkowski, signed for peanuts from Brentford a few years back, was drafted in to replace the departed Keane, who alongside Ben Mee has been instrumental in guiding the Clarets to an early 7th in the Premier League so far this campaign. 

Championship top scorer Chris Wood was also bought from Leeds for a cool £15m and has hit the ground running, proving that for every action the club endures, Dyche has a reaction.

So, since upping sticks and settling down in Lancashire just over five years ago, Dyche has overseen a remarkable journey at Turf Moor which has seen Burnley go from Championship also rans to a formidable Premier League outfit. 

Amazingly, Burnley have recorded a respectable £35m net spend throughout Dyche's reign, as well as keeping 72 league clean sheets. The dedicated boss from Kettering is keeping Burnley in great shape on and off the pitch, is a credit to his profession, and is a wild throwback to the days where money wasn't the only solution in football; Burnley are lucky to have him.