David Cameron Walker

Posts Tagged ‘Sean Dyche’

Ginger Mourinho has littlest horse at a canter

Thursday, February 13th, 2014


Jose Mourinho recently described his Chelsea side as a “little horse” in the race for the Premier League title. The analogy was met with varying levels of scorn from around the game, but Burnley’s answer to the Special One must have read the description with a wryer smile than most. Sean Dyche, known to Clarets fans as the “Ginger Mourinho”, has spent a little over £700,000 during his tenure as Clarets boss, this spent over a year after he became boss, and yet he has guided one of the pre-season relegation favourites into the top two of the Championship for almost the entire season. Compared to the thoroughbreds of Leicester, QPR, Derby and Nottingham Forest, with foreign owners, big crowds and bigger budgets, Burnley are a mere pony, and yet the Clarets have been taking hurdles at blistering pace and look set, against all predictions, to stay the course.

Dyche himself deserves a huge slice of the credit for Burnley’s league position. His position at the end of last season was, and it seems strange to reflect on this now, slightly shaky – the Clarets only secured Championship football with 7 points from the last 3 league games at the end of last season, and the months preceding it had been marked by inconsistency, some mind-numbingly boring games (the 0-0 bore draw with Middlesbrough a particular lowlight), and an over-reliance on the goals of Charlie Austin that saw the Clarets limp to a flattering 11th place finish. Dyche was not well liked by a sizable minority of supporters (some of whom nicknamed him “Yawn Dyche”), and when the manager attributed poor home form to the over-expectation of Clarets fans, there was a noticeable tension between the two camps, which is still in evidence on occasion this season- “They weren’t calling me that last season!” was Dyche’s reaction to a recent question about the “Ginger Mourinho” moniker. This is perhaps, in part, a reaction from Burnley supporters to the devastating way Owen Coyle went from hero to zero in one fell swoop, but an atmosphere of mutual respect with the odd outpouring of love seems to have developed, and it has been fairly impossible for Clarets fans to resist Dyche’s charm offensive in the form of results since the start of the season. Dyche has the players well-drilled, super fit, and playing a terrific mix of long and short passing, flair and panache in the attack with a rock solid defence, and has brought the best out of some old favourites while bringing in some terrific new additions.

While these new additions have been low price and yet high quality (Tom Heaton and David Jones, solid top-end Championship performers on free transfers, were steals, and Scott Arfield, released by lowly Huddersfield last year, has been an all-action revelation), some praise must be given to previous manager Eddie Howe, who when given money spent it, for the most part, extremely wisely. Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, at £1.4m between them, are the only strike partnership in the country to rival Liverpool’s SAS for goals, and both have become sterling performers from bit-part players under Dyche’s management- Ings is supremely talented and has added goals, goals and more goals to his game, while Vokes has been transformed from a slow, lumbering, Grant-Holt-without-the-goals to a lean, powerful heading machine who has already chipped in with more goals than his most prolific ever season, that achieved at third-tier Bournemouth. Dean Marney, signed for £500,000 by the much-maligned Brian Laws, looks a new man, a box-to-box ballwinner and sprayer nicknamed “Deaniesta” by the same fans who grumbled when Dyche handed him a new contract in the summer. £1m a piece full-backs Ben Mee and Kieran Trippier rarely look troubled by opposing wingers and Trippier has continued his scintillating attacking form from last season, already achieving double figures in assists from the right-back berth. £1m captain Jason Shackell looks a class above in every department and he is assisted ably by 36 year old Michael Duff- an incredible performer in his testimonial year, and a steal 10 years ago for £30,000.

Dyche didn’t inherit as bad a squad as the pre-season doom mongers would have you believe, then, but the credit for adding to it and moulding it into the team which has only lost 3 games this season, has an unbeaten home record stretching back to March of last year, and has kept much larger clubs with frankly obscene squads (QPR reserve keeper Julio Cesar could probably rival Dyche’s transfer budget with the spare change down the back of his sofa) at arm’s length with a mixture of superb attacking football, a miserly defence, and a winning mentality belongs squarely at his door. It would take a collapse of Devon Loch proportions for the littlest horse to finish outside the top 6 now. Don’t bet against them pipping the favourites to the finishing post.

Written by Tom Whittaker, We Are Going Up’s Burnley Blogger

Tom tweets at @tomclaret

Uncertainty ahead without Austin powers

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013


The run in to last season provided a platform of cautious optimism for Clarets fans, with a good point at home to runaway league leaders Cardiff followed by assured victories over Wolves and Ipswich that even pushed the team to the heady heights of an 11th place finish, an improvement on Eddie Howe’s 13th in his solitary full season in charge. However, a rollercoaster pre-season has seen optimism fluctuate wildly amongst the fanbase, with question marks still hanging over the head of manager Sean Dyche.

The summer’s transfer business has overall been badly received by fans. The departures of million-pound signing Martin Paterson and long-serving youth team product Chris McCann on free transfers were disheartening, particularly as both were key members of the 2009 promotion-winning side. The fact that both moved to divisional rivals, Paterson to Huddersfield and McCann joining former boss Owen Coyle at Wigan, added to the frustration that transfer fees could not be recouped for either player, although both have been plagued by injuries since our return to the second tier and, in truth, may not be as sorely missed as those looking back on the halcyon Premier League days through rose-tinted spectacles would suggest. The other most disappointing departure (apart from the obvious, which we’ll talk about later) was goalkeeper Lee Grant, who elected to return to old club Derby instead of signing a proffered new contract. Long-serving goalkeeper Brian “The Beast” Jensen was another goalkeeping departure, leaving with the best wishes of fans but an understanding that his best days were long behind him.

Even accounting for the disgruntlement over departures, the biggest worry has been the lack of arrivals at the Turf, with young striker Ryan Noble and Huddersfield reserve Scott Arfield seen as wholly inadequate replacements for a frontline weakened by the loss of Paterson and a midfield shorn of its most talented footballer in McCann. David Jones’ arrival, also in the centre of midfield, has been much more positively received, and his partnership with Dean Marney in pre-season has looked very promising, but the issue Arfield’s arrival has failed to address is the lack of strength in depth in this position, with Marvin Bartley departing on loan to Leyton Orient and Brian Stock still struggling to put a run of games together. Another body is welcome in both positions but does Arfield have the quality to step in if Jones or Marney suffer injury or suspension, and does untried youngster Noble have the goals in him to replace last season’s second top scorer Paterson? One position Dyche has sewn up nicely is the goalkeeping position, with Tom Heaton an excellent replacement for Grant on a free transfer, and no less than three young goalkeepers brought in to provide backup and challenge for a place on the bench.

The jury is still out for a lot of fans on Sean Dyche (and there are a fair few fans who have already made their minds up) but it’s worth remembering that he still hasn’t had the opportunity to spend a transfer fee on a player in the two transfer windows he’s been at the club. The squad looks adequate for another reasonably comfortable mid-table season- Kieran Trippier at right back, Jason Shackell at centre half, Junior Stanislas and Ross Wallace out wide and the emerging talent of Danny Ings up front will all continue to be important players- and pre-season results and, crucially, performances have been  encouraging, particularly in the excellent 4-1 victory over Sparta Rotterdam, where the free-flowing, passing football was an answer to the numerous critics of Dyche’s perceived “long-ball” style of play. Dyche can rest assured that strong home form, a few goals and a gap between the Clarets and the bottom three should be enough to satisfy home fans for this year at least.

However, the biggest worry for the season emerged on Thursday with the sale of Charlie Austin to QPR for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £3m. It is crucial that this money is at least in part reinvested in a goalscoring centre-forward- Austin managed a whopping 25 goals in the league last year, and even the departed Paterson with 8 managed more than our remaining strikers combined (Vokes 4, Ings 3). Although Ings in particular will be expected to have a much greater impact on the first team this year, that replacement for Austin will be crucial to the team’s chances of success this year, and of course, we’re looking for one later rather than sooner with this sale coming so close to the start of the season. With a failed medical at Hull lowering his value and the difficult prospect of losing him on a free next year emphasised by Paterson and McCann’s departures, the board’s decision to cash in is understandable, but with noises from the Chief Executive suggesting that Dyche will not see much of the money in his quest for a replacement, it’s a very testing time for the relationship between the board and the fans, let alone for the manager and the team, if Austin’s powers aren’t replaced by someone equally groovy.

Written by Tom Whittaker, We Are Going Up’s Burnley Blogger

Tom tweets at @tomclaret

A farewell to Howe, a welcome to Dyche and a big well done to Austin

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

It’s my first blog of the 2012/13 season and to be honest, there’s been very little to talk about so far. Disregarding derby victories over Bolton, Blackburn and Leeds, the shock departure of Eddie Howe, the immensely enjoyable departure of Owen Coyle, the appointment of “Stone Cold” Sean Dyche, and our first 20-goal a season striker since the halcyon days of Andy Payton, it’s been a very boring start…

First, let’s address that 20 goal striker, Charlie Austin, who until a recent unforgivable two-game scoring drought had Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo quaking in their boots when casting an eye at the next Ballon D’Or votes. To have 20 goals before December is an absolutely phenomenal achievement, shattering all sorts of club records in the process, and while all sensible Burnley fans are resigned to the prospect of his leaving, either in January or June, everyone is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to watch a striker of this calibre in the claret and blue.

He’s performed a more workmanlike role under Sean Dyche, still chipping in with two goals under the new manager, but it was under Eddie Howe, where his role was simply to wait around the penalty area and smash home anything that came near, where we saw the kind of instinctual goal-getting which marks Austin out as a future England cap (and the last player we said that about at Burnley was Gary Cahill!) All he needs now is a winning goal against Blackburn on December 2nd and his place in Burnley history is forever sealed – well done Charlie.

I alluded briefly to the contrast in styles we’ve seen already from Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche, and a word on both managers. The reaction to Eddie Howe’s departure was strangely muted- the family reasons which saw him return to his family and his old club Bournemouth on the south coast were understood and accepted by the majority of fans, and the evidence of Howe’s superb run since returning suggest that it was a step he really needed to take.

Similarly, he had been stuck in something of a rut at Burnley. A lower mid-table finish seemed the best we could hope for this season, and performances and results had failed to live up to the early season optimism brought by the comprehensive opening day defeat of Bolton Wanderers. Of particular concern was the hapless defending which marked the last few months of Howe’s tenure.

Retrospectively, though, it must be acknowledged that Howe steered us through a period of rebuilding efficiently, dealing with the sales of many of our best players, moving on some of the old guard, and leaving us with a decent young squad with a number of saleable assets. Only the most churlish Burnley fan would wish him anything but the best for the future.

Sean Dyche was the man eventually chosen as his replacement, and despite a clamour for Mick McCarthy and an initial uncertainty that we were getting a manager from “only” Watford (a team I vividly remember sticking seven past us at Turf Moor,) Dyche has settled in well, with two home wins and, crucially, two clean sheets in his first two games endearing him to the fans (especially with one of those victories coming against Leeds!)

Subsequent defeats to Ipswich and Charlton have tempered expectations somewhat, but refereeing decisions played a part in both results, and the application of the players has been very notable even in these games. Dyche’s frantic arm waving and just-gargled-with-razorblades post-match interviews have been popular with a Burnley crowd who ‘love a bit of passion’ (this was certainly a factor which counted against the more circumspect Howe.)

Early days yet, and we’ll need a transfer window that passes without the re-signing of Chris Iwelumo before we can be totally sure, but it’s a tentative “yes” for Sean Dyche from the Burnley faithful thus far.

The victories over Bolton and Leeds were undoubtedly the high point of each manager’s season so far, with the contribution to Owen Coyle’s departure particularly enjoyable for the Burnley fans, many of whom are finally achieving a sense of real closure over the whole Coyle-to-Bolton saga as he left with Bolton once again below Burnley in the table, as they had been when he arrived at the Reebok.

Indeed, the Premier League relegation zone was a dream for Clarets fans last season, with dear neighbours Blackburn joining us in the second tier for the first time since 2001. It’s hard not to feel sympathy for any set of fans under the stewardship of owners like the Venky’s, and while Steve Kean’s name was sung from the terraces at Turf Moor a few times, there is definitely a bit more conviviality around the derby than normal, with many Burnley fans in a position to understand the frustrations of Rovers fans somewhat better than many of the unsympathetic national media.

That said, there’s sure to be no love lost when the two teams meet at Turf Moor on December 2nd. Burnley fans’ expectations should be tempered in the knowledge that Blackburn spent more to acquire Jordan Rhodes than we did on our entire first XI, but with home derby victories already secured against Bolton, Blackpool and Leeds without conceding, there’s a real opportunity for Sean Dyche to immediately win over all the Burnley supporters by providing fans with a long overdue win against the old enemy. Charlie Austin hat-trick anyone?

Written by Tom Whittaker, We Are Going Up’s Burnley Blogger

Tom tweets at @tomclaret