In this media savvy age, tabloids and fans are quick to heap praise on unconventional success stories like the one Sean Dyche has enjoyed. While Dyche has done a great job with Burnley, those claiming he is the best manager in the Premier League may have spoken a little too soon.
A lot of factors contributed to Burnley’s success this season and Dyche isn’t so much blazing a trail as following an already pre-established route. There’s good reason none of the major clubs have taken a serious interest in him during several managerial appointments in the past few seasons and Dyche could prove to be nothing more than a young Steve Bruce.
First of all, the workmanlike ethic that Burnley is built on is nothing new to the Premier League. A similar approach that has been utilized by Sam Allardyce’s Bolton or Tony Pulis’ Stoke City teams of years past.
Many clubs have attempted to replicate that success on a shoestring budget over the years, and granted Sean Dyche has taken it to arguably new heights this season, but this was no overnight success.
Dyche has enjoyed a huge advantage that hasn’t been afforded to most of his rivals in his role longevity. In increasingly cut-throat times for Premier League managers, Dyche has been at the helm of Burnley for six years.
In that time he has enjoyed two promotions and endured two relegations as he has taken the time to perfect his craft, again a luxury not afforded to many Premier League managers. The second mistake to be made when analysing Burnley is assuming they are a small club in a big pond.
They do an excellent job of flying under the radar but in recent seasons they have twice won promotion and solidified themselves as a Premier League club, in doing so they are at least equal or greater to the majority of the league in terms of talent.
The Championship offers a very stern test to relegated clubs just ask Sunderland or any of the other 14 former Premier League teams that still occupy that league. Navigating an immediate title win like Burnley did is the sign of a strong, talented side, and that’s what Dyche has: a solid, experienced Premier League squad.
Guiding the club to European spot was a huge achievement but Burnley were also helped by a topsy-turvy campaign that produced little competition. Usual top ten competitors like Southampton, Leicester, Everton and Stoke City all spent patches in the relegation battle with no one really rising to the opportunity other than Burnley.
Despite poor starts, both Everton and Leicester regained their top ten spots which highlights the lack of serious competition. Burnley managed to go 11 consecutive games without a win and hold onto their European spot; not many teams have or ever will be able to say that.
Instead, Dyche really only maintained a level of consistency and competitiveness unrivalled by anyone outside the top six. Considering the advantages Dyche has had is the seventh-place finish anymore impressive than some of the achievements of a young Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce has won two promotions with both Birmingham City and Hull City making a significant impact on the fortunes of both sides. He led Birmingham and Wigan to top ten finishes, which was the Blues highest finish since 1973 and the Latics highest ever finish.
Following that he led a third side Sunderland to a top ten finish before guiding Hull City to an FA Cup final. His influence has wavered recently and he failed to guide Aston Villa back to the Premier League, losing out in the playoff final this season.
But whilst his stock remains low, Dyche seems on course to be deemed a national treasure. It’s not to diminish his achievements at Burnley but it’s one season, just ask Leicester what difference a season can make.
Maybe we should reserve judgement on Dyche for a good ten years or so, before presenting him any more honourary awards, at the moment though he is at least on course to become the next Steve Bruce, which is a lot more flattering than it sounds.