How can you hate Sean Dyche? Professional in front of the media, never involved in controversy and has a brilliant voice. But on top of it all, his project at Turf Moor has been nothing short of incredible.
The former Watford manager has remained loyal to Burnley since his departure from Vicarage Road. Through thick and thin, Sean has never folded. Not only has he provided consistency to the Clarets over his 6-year stay in Lancashire, he has been instrumental in their rise to the heights of the Europa League in 2017/18, a feat that Claret fans would only have dared to dream of just 2 seasons before.
The Clarets finished 11th and 13th place in the previous two seasons of Dyche’s predecessor Eddie Howe. Expectations for the new manager weren’t sky high, especially with his lack of experience. He led Burnley to an 11th place finish in 2012/13 Championship, a season of stability and getting to know his squad. Yet the man from Kettering and his squad exceeded expectations significantly in the following season…
2013/14 – Promotion Against All Odds
Burnley were terrific in 2013/14. The acquisitions of Tom Heaton and Scott Arfield on free transfers, in particular, were a masterstroke by Dyche who strengthened his squad enough on a low budget to mount a superb promotion challenge. 41 goals between Danny Ings and Sam Vokes propelled the Clarets to a 2nd place finish behind champions Leicester. They conceded the least goals out of any side in the Championship and under Dyche’s stewardship, had returned to the English top flight against all odds. Unbelievable considering the mere £750,000 spent in the summer.
2014/15 – Relegation From The Top Flight And A Learning Curve
2014/15 was a tough season for Burnley in the Premier League. They scored the least goals (28) out of any team in the league with Danny Ings being their top scorer on 11 goals. This lack of goals meant The Clarets could not survive in the Premier League, finishing 19th and 5 points from safety. Yet the Turf Moor faithful were proud of their team for their efforts in one of the toughest leagues in the world.
Dyche had the backing of the board, players and Turf Moor faithful with promotion back to the Premier League the expectation. Many clubs and managers have faltered in the season after relegation, struggling to compete with the teams they once thrashed. Yet Dyche and his squad didn’t fail, instead, they improved…
2015/16 – Championship Dominance
Despite losing key players like Ings and Trippier, the Burnley boss spent money well with signings such as Barton, Lowton, Tarkowski and Andre Gray, replacing their prized assets appropriately. They were dominant in 2015/16. Ings’ absence was not felt with Andre Gray scoring 23 on his own and Sam Vokes yet again flourishing in the Championship with 15 goals. They scored the joint most goals in the league (72) and under Dyche yet again performed superbly in the second tier. After beating QPR 1-0, Burnley were crowned winners of the Championship in a stellar campaign. The faith in Dyche by the club had paid off and they were automatically promoted back to the top flight.
2016/17 – Survival Second Time Round
The Clarets boss was determined to be prepared for the Premier League. The introductions of Belgian Steven Defour from Anderlecht and Jeff Hendrick from Derby solved goalscoring issue. Quality shot-stopper Nick Pope also joined up with the squad.
Dyche made sure Burnley were difficult to beat throughout the season, shown by a victory against Liverpool as well as draws against Chelsea and Manchester United.
Perhaps more vitally, they were taking 3 points against fellow mid-table sides. January acquisitions Robbie Brady and Joey Barton helped Burnley grind out results. Their season ended up with the Clarets in 16th place. A success.
Dyche had done it again. From kings of the Championship to survival, he was revolutionising this Burnley side progressing them as a club and establishing himself as an effective coach. Surely he couldn’t take it a step further in 2017/18?
2017/18 – Europa League qualification, a season beyond belief
Well of course he did. Even with the loss of top scorer Andre Gray and central defender Michael Keane, Dyche worked his magic again even under the constraints of a low budget. The likes of Jack Cork, Jonathan Walters and Chris Wood in January turned out to be excellent signings in Burnley’s extraordinary season.
Like 2016/17, they performed impressively against the Top 6 with a victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and draws against both Manchester clubs as well as Liverpool. From September until the end of the season, Burnley never dropped out of the Top 10 and 5 straight wins in March/April ensured they would finish in 7th place, qualifying for Europa League football.
The unthinkable had happened yet again under Sean Dyche. His shrewd transfers, brilliant organisation and effective tactics have transformed this Burnley team who are now just one round away from the Europa League group stage.
The man defines progression taking this small town club from Championship mediocrity to European competition within 6 years, a sublime feat. The Sean Dyche Era has been a glittering success thus far, but as neutrals, let’s hope this is just the beginning…