Off Dyche and then?

Off Dyche and then?

On Friday, Burnley FC announced that they had sacked possibly the greatest manager in its history. American owners ALK, who had bought the club 15 months ago in a leveraged buyout, had relieved manager Sean Dyche of his duties after a nine year spell which included two promotions, seven years in the Premier League and qualification for the early stages of the Europa League.

There are the cold hard facts. Immediately the national news broke the story and followed up by comment and opinion. As is the way of football coverage, a lot of that coverage was ill-informed.

I’d probably have joined in, but I was on holiday for my wedding anniversary and determined to spend as little as possible of the time in front of a computer or phone. So I got to stand back and see the outpouring, the anger, the shit-stirring, all the while going processing what was happening at the football club I have supported for three decades.

This has been burning in my head because the mixture of lazy cliches, mendacious stirring and the general wrongness of the coverage just lit a fire in me. Maybe it’s because the last nine years have been the most incredible time for the football club that I follow.  Maybe it’s because I care too much. It definitely is because Twitter was not the place to process my thoughts.

So here are my thoughts, presented in the Socratic method.

Was this a business decision made by clueless American owners panicking at the loss of the Premier League revenue stream?

No.

Because it isn’t panicking.  If we are going to look at this as a business decision, then it is cold, hard logic.  The current management team was failing and the business was likely to be facing tough economic times.  In these circumstances, the Board decided that change was immediately needed at a senior level.  It’s business and if you don’t like it in football, you are welcome to return to, oh, at least the 1950’s.

That’s a dry way of looking at things

No, what it is is not ignoring what football, and especially Premier League football is. The events on the pitch are secondary – at the very least! – to the goals of the owners, which range from ego trips and basic profit making through to laundering money stolen from an entire country and sport washing a dictatorship.

You’re a cynic. Or an apologist.

Or pragmatic and realistic. I don’t fool myself that what I’m watching is a fair and even sporting contest. I don’t even delude myself that I’m watching two teams go at it, rather than a millionaires plaything vs a PLC.

Actually, that’s not quite true. For 90 minutes, I do do that. Because I love football and I love supporting my team. It’s just for the period between the final whistle of one game and the starting whistle of the next, I see what football really is.

The method of the takeover is cause for concern though?

Yes, but that is business for you, and all that has happened is a business transaction.

It loaded massive debt onto the club that it didn’t have!

It did indeed, and since it happened the main question I have always had is “If I, as a dumb IT nerd saw that coming, how come people whose job it is to look at such things didn’t?”

You see, the previous owners had built up £60m cash in the bank. Call it a Rainy Day Fund, or protection against relegation. That cash was in the bank and not given to the manager to improve the squad – more of which later.

ALK came in, took out a loan to buy the club and then loaded the loan onto the club, wiping out the Rainy Day Fund.

Alan Pace, Burnley Chairman
Alan Pace, Chairman of Burnley Football Club Ltd

Dodgy as all hell

No. Just business. Happens all the time. Businesses take over other businesses in a number of ways, and taking out a loan to purchase a business is just one of them. The idea is that the revenues are enough to keep ahead of the repayments. You do that by unlocking other lines of income to make profit and eventually sell the whole thing on for a profit.

But there were other ways of buying the club

Of course. But – and this is where I saw it coming – that Rainy Day Fund was the key. The more it stayed there and the more it grew, the more likely it was that this method of buyout was going to happen.

Was there any way the old Board could have prevented it?

They could have spent the money. But paradoxically, that probably would have made the club harder to sell. And they needed to sell, because the costs of staying in the Premier League were getting beyond them.

So if the old Board aren’t at fault and ALK aren’t at fault, whose fault is it?

Why does there always have to be someone at fault? Football loves to place blame. It’s business. ALK wanted to buy, Garlick and co were looking to sell. I can’t emphasise that enough, Burnley FC is a business turning over at least £100m a year. That business happens to centre around 11 men kicking a football about each week, but it is a business.

Morally it is wrong

Well, as a committed socialist at heart I am of course against capitalism in most of its forms.

Look, it would be nice if a billionaire suddenly rocked up and bought the club out of their own cash. But anyone who thinks that is ever going to happen is deluded and anyone who tells you it could happen is lying to you.

Let’s play a fun game. How much would it cost to buy and run Burnley FC in the Premier League for five years? I’ll start with £200m to buy the club, £100m in transfers and £50m a season to cover losses.

Sounds plausible

So you are looking at someone investing half a billion pounds into Burnley FC without the prospect of getting much of it back. I’d love to meet that person. (For laughs, I worked out how much I would have to be personally worth in net cash to consider buying the club and funding it without worrying about the losses – and I came in at £1.5bn.)

Billionaires don’t become billionaires by spending their own money and there seems to be this weird expectation that someone will come along and set fire to at least half their fortune.

Ask Mel Morris and Derby how well that works out.

Morris is still worth £50m so he’s not exactly got the wolf at the door

That’s not the point. He lost an estimated 80% of his worth by investing in a football club.

Look, total up your own net worth. House, cars, pension, income. Now work out what 10% of it is and go down to Turf Moor and spend it on the club.

What, all of it?

Yes.

You must be joking.

Why not. You can afford it, if you tighten your belt elsewhere. But you won’t, because suddenly it’s your money at risk.

That’s why I treat anyone demanding the club spend £10-20m on a player as an idiot. Ignoring everything involved in actually transferring players (wages, agents fees etc), the easiest thing in the world to do is spend someone else’s money.

Doesn’t the debt worry you?

Yes. Of course it does. But people take on debt all the time. Mortgages, cars, credit cards. If you run the business sensibly and minimise risk…

You mean take action to prevent loss of income which may affect your ability to pay back debt?

Yes. Like getting rid of the people who are partially responsible for steering you towards relegation and associated loss of TV revenue.

That’s cold, man. Real cold.

I never said I was the nicest person in the world. But unlike most people in football, I’m fully aware of what football is and because my income doesn’t revolve around working in the game, I also have the luxury of pointing that out.

If people want to wrap a nice comfortable blanket around themselves and avoid the harsh reality that the European champions are funded by a man close to a regime that is waging a war against Ukraine, that this years champions are owned by a country that discriminates against women, migrants and LGBT individuals then fair play to them. Just remember that pretty shortly that little gang will be joined by a club owned by a country that dismembers journalists it doesn’t like and the Premier League bent over backwards to enable it to happen.

I suppose we should be thankful we’re only owned by a Wall Street hedge fund

Aye, but before you climb too high on the moral high ground, you might want to think about the 15% of Clarets fans who have to regularly sit in a stand named after a raging anti-semite who gave condemned meat to his players.

OK, let’s forget business. Talking about business in football is no fun. Surely sacking Dyche is is a bad decision on a football level?

Gary Lineker tweeted out that it was a “terrible, shitty decision”.  Daniel Taylor in The Athletic described it as “lacking in gratitude”.  They were not alone, as plenty of Solid Football Men have been lamenting the sacking.  Sean Dyche is, after all, one of the few Solid Football Men in the Premier League.

They’re wrong, of course. But let’s run with it and concentrate on the Solid Football Facts.

Sacking a manager when under threat of relegation is a standard thing throughout football, except when it comes to Premier League clubs. In the Premier League, it isn’t poor performance that leads to the boot, it’s “potentially losing the TV millions” which is used by Solid Football Men to excuse underperformance on the pitch.  Find yourself staring at a drop into League One and that’s a difficult season, do the same at the top table and for some reason it is placing yourself at the mercy of cold-hearted business.

No matter, the point of such a statement is to avoid the key problem. At the time the managerial trigger was pulled, Burnley had won 14 out of Dyche’s last 68 Premier League games.  Fourteen.  A win percentage of 1 in 4.  For completeness, the full record is W14-D21-L33.

The second factor was that the team was clearly struggling to get themselves out of trouble.  Much has been made of Burnley’s “experience” in relegation battles. Experience gained by *checks notes* finishing at least six points clear of the drop every season, and as high as 10th just two seasons ago.

Tactically, the team were relying on the same old approach, keep disciplined, organised and make up for a lack of quality by outworking your opponent in 1 on 1 battles.  That’s a perfectly fine concept, except anyone is going to cotton on it by the sixth consecutive season.  There was no surprise element and clubs that had been previously upset by the Clarets were fully prepared to minimise their own problems this time around. Dyche had few answers, either in his toolbox or in the squad.

Anyone, even Solid Football Men, would agree that the statistics and the performances, such a record for a manager shows that a sacking is long overdue.  Indeed, Norwich, Leeds, Everton and Newcastle had removed managers with better recent records.

The problem is the Solid Football Men, as usual, didn’t even bother to check their facts before firing out their cliches. But that’s OK, because their job is to look, but not to see.

There is a Twitter account that compiles club results in a calendar year.  In 2021, out of the 92 Premier League and Football League clubs, Burnley were 92nd.  Dead last.  Below everybody.

I don’t have the numbers, but I’m willing to guess that you must go a long way above 92nd place to find a club that hadn’t changed manager.  The fact that Dyche hadn’t been sacked was the exception, not the rule.

I’d argue that it wasn’t a lack of sentiment that saw Dyche sacked, compared to his record and his peers, it was an excess of it that was keeping him in the job.

Oh, so this means you wanted Dyche Out?

Oh Jesus Christ, No.  I was fully behind him and dearly wish he was still the manager. What I am saying is that on a football level, it hasn’t been working for the past 18 months.  Those pundits claiming it is a bad football decision are talking bollocks.

This is where the emotional part of the game comes in.  I wanted Dyche to stay and felt that his achievements meant that he had earned the right to a reset. If the club continued to struggle in the Championship – and even then, I am realistic enough to understand that automatic promotion in such a tough division is no sure thing – then perhaps, perhaps a change was due.

It looks likely that we will get relegated.  Do you blame Dyche for that?

No.  The old phrase goes that “Success has many fathers, yet failure is an orphan”.  It’s a cynical one, because usually the opposite is true.

The club have let Dyche down over the past four seasons.  The squad is stale, old and tired.  They’ve been asked to give over and above their maximum for far too long.  I said the other week, that I can be disappointed and frustrated at individual performances in individual games, but I can’t criticise the squad as a whole.  Their tanks are empty.

The lack of investment has been absolutely chronic over the last few years.  Dyche had made several silk purses out of a sows ear, but you can’t expect a miracle every single season. The fact that he was being asked to keep doing so, and succeeding only to be rewarded with less and less support from above was maddening.

Was relegation this season inevitable anyway?

Probably.  It definitely has been coming.  The first warning sign was the home draw to Norwich, when the Clarets looks absolutely bereft of ideas against a team that was so dedicated to getting a 0-0 draw that the goalkeeper got his first warning for timewasting with 5.22 on the clock.  In the first half.

By the time we lost to Newcastle, the overriding feeling was “this is not good”.

I’m not disappointed that relegation is coming, because – as mentioned – it’s a struggle for a club of this size to even compete in the Premier League. Where I’m bitterly disappointed that this relegation is largely self-inflicted.  I’ve always taken the view that Burnley even being in the Premier League is a case of us – as always – punching above our weight.  A thousand things must go right for the club to stay at the top table, and more importantly, things must go wrong for other clubs.  The bottom half of the table all live in fear of an accidental relegation and take steps not to succeed, but to avoid failure.

It didn’t help that unlike previous seasons, there was no basket case club or two near the bottom.  Clarets have taken advantage of others ineptitude to secure their own status.  With the Saudi takeover of Newcastle, that removed at least one poorly run club from the equation.

There is a lot of talk about the Championship being inherently unbalanced.  A lot of that talk comes from people whose job relies on Very Carefully Not Noticing that the Premier League is even more unbalanced and not only is that the case, but it is deliberately set up to be that way.  Man Utd, Spurs and Arsenal are staggeringly mediocre teams and have been for several seasons, yet they are still squabbling over a fourth-place finish that seems beyond Leicester, Wolves or West Ham sides that are having exceptional seasons.  No-one seems to be asking why because their jobs rely on it.

And Dyche was blameless?

No.  He had his fair share of responsibility and there were a lot of bitten lips over the last couple of months.

A word about the fans.  Despite the long slow march to the drop unfolding on a regular basis, the crowd at the Turf have not turned on the manager or Board in any significant way.  There has been an acceptance that trying to defy gravity season after season is impossible.  The dam did indeed break after half time at home to Chelsea, but that felt like a 45-minute outpouring of cumulative frustration, a year and a bit of consciously not having a go at the team being rewarded by an utterly abject collapse. Don’t forget that despite missing chance after chance in that first half, the team were applauded off the pitch at half-time. Normal service was resumed for the next match.

The problem was that Dyche was steadfastly repeating the same mistakes.  I’m all for letting a player play himself back into form, but both Ashley Westwood and Dwight McNeil got an enormous amount of leeway. No matter how badly it wasn’t working, and it didn’t take much to see that it the Burnley midfield had massive great holes in it where some semblance of creativity should have been, change was not coming.

I’m not singling him out for particular criticism, not least because I have been a great fan of his, but the brief period where Burnley sparked into life coincided with Ashley Westwood picking up a suspension.  When partnered with Jack Cork, Josh Brownhill stopped looking like a decent Championship player and became an absolute force in the middle of the pitch.  In the second half against Manchester United, he looked like the second coming of Paul Scholes, taking the much-vaunted midfield of Pogba and Fernandes and simply chewing them up and spitting them out.  It coincided with the best run of the season for the club in terms of points and form and when Westwood’s suspension was up… he walked straight back into the side.  Momentum slammed into a brick wall of managerial stubbornness.

Yeah, anyone who was writing down Westwood and Brownhill on the team sheet for the West Ham game needed sack… oh

Maybe that was the reason he was sacked on a Friday and not immediately after the Norwich game.  Maybe Pace looked at his team sheet and thought “For fuck’s sake”.

That was a joke, by the way.

I get why Cork can’t play every game – there are a lot of miles on those legs – but with every misplaced pass, the need for a change in midfield became more and more apparent.  Especially when there was clearly nothing to lose.

What happened to McNeil?

It’s a curious one.  Our most creative player on paper has contributed 0 goals and 0 assists this season.  To be honest, he hasn’t looked like changing that for the past couple of months.  Is that on Dyche?  I don’t know, but I do know that he and Charlie Taylor continue to play like complete strangers on that left hand side, not only going forward but also it is the area from which we have conceded the most this season.

But McNeil is an excellent case when it comes to loyalty from the management. He has played pretty much every minute for the last couple of seasons, despite rarely producing. But what is forgotten is that he made his debut at home to Olympiakos, where he completely ran the show. He announced himself with a 30 yard screamer that forced the Greek goalkeeper into a magnificent finger tip save. The kid was taking apart perennial Champions League regulars without fear.

And then he was dropped until the famous West Ham game where Dyche changed everything to reset a struggling side.

A settled side is a good side

Agreed.  But don’t you think that it is curious that Connor Roberts got the hook so quickly against Everton? He was not having a good game, but in his defence, he was up against Richarlison.  Now, the Brazilian is a prick, but he’s a prick who can be an excellent player and Roberts has less than a dozen Premier League games under his young belt.  Yet Roberts sits for the next game, and other players get to keep their place.  Is the fact that Roberts was an ALK buy a factor?

You can’t blame the squad on Dyche

To an extent, no. On the other hand, that right wing would look a hell of a lot better with Harry Wilson on it, wouldn’t it?  And who, exactly, blocked that particular move?

But ask yourself this.  Is Burnley an attractive place to come to or send a player on loan?

The answer is clearly no, as they will be sat warming the bench and if lucky given five minutes at the end of a lost cause.

Forget players who joined and never saw game time. The prime example is Matej Vydra.  An outcast for almost four seasons, despite scoring at a fairly regular clip.  Now I’m not the biggest fan of Vydra, but the fact is that he finished last season looking like we had finally found a partner for Chris Wood, only to start this on the bench behind Ashley Barnes.  What the hell?  As things got more desperate, he started getting half hour cameos.  A man outcast for the majority of his time is suddenly relied on to be an impact sub.

Which reminds me.  Dyche wouldn’t even start Vydra in an FA Cup game at home to Peterborough.  And when the crowd ironically cheered him on (more in a “my God, you are actually finally going to give him a chance to play?” type way) Dyche was especially snippy about it in the post-match press conference.

At the beginning of the season, Ashley Barnes was the starting striker.  A player more interested in fighting his own battle than winning the team’s war. A player whose less than subtle bag of tricks was worked out by defenders and referees several seasons go.  You’ve heard of a striker with a 50p head, Barnes was the first Premier League striker with 50p feet.

(Seriously, whenever I see that famous last-minute winner against Palace, I marvel at just how badly Barnes screws up the pass to Gudmundsson. Seriously, go back and watch it. Five years later, through on goal he managed to put an eight-foot pass three feet too far forward and six feet too high.

Christ, it’s just occurred to me.  What if one of the bones of contention between Dyche and Pace was that Dyche wanted to keep him?

Weghorst has been a failure

Wout Weghorst
Chris Wood’s replacement, the 6’6″ Dutch Chris Wood

Bollocks.  The problem is that Chris Wood has gone and tactically, we’re treating his replacement as a taller, Dutch Chris Wood.  This is despite him clearly being far, far more effective with the ball passed to his feet.  Dyche’s insistence on lumping it up to the Big Guy was absolutely detrimental to the team.  It’s all well and good to moan about a lack of goals from Weghorst, but he has had absolutely no quality service from anywhere in the midfield.

To be fair, we haven’t had the breaks

I absolutely agree. Dyche continually preached about “small margins” and there is no denying that Burnley have been on the wrong side of those small margins.

  • Tim Krul punching Matej Vydra in the head
  • Charlie Taylor slipping for Leeds’s equaliser
  • Vydra missing last minute winners at Chelsea and home to Palace
  • Cornet missing away to Norwich and rolling the first penalty we were awarded since the invention of the motor car the wrong side of the post

That’s arguably 11 points right there.  And the Krul one still infuriates me, not least because it leant weight to my feeling that VAR was implemented by someone who hates the idea of VAR.  Exhibit Fucking A being it wasn’t used to review someone clearly getting punched in the head. I fucking saw it from the other end of the ground, and I don’t have the benefit of replays.

The last Board wouldn’t have got rid of Dyche

No, they wouldn’t.

At least we agree on that

He’d probably be gone already.

What?!

It’s interesting that the comments about “clueless American owners” – and isn’t the use of the descriptive noun there telling – sacking the most successful manager in the club history ignore a couple of key facts.

Dyche went into this season with under 12 months left on his contract. He put pen to paper on a four-year deal last September, which I believe was reported as making him the highest paid employee of the club.  The reason his contract was in its final year was because he wasn’t going to sign a new one under the old Board.

Dyche and Mike Garlick had a massive falling out over the lack of investment in the squad and were reportedly not on speaking terms. Isn’t it surprising how quickly this has been conveniently memory holed?

You mentioned lack of investment.  The net spend

Can I stop you there?

Why?

Because “net spend” as a metric is *checks for correct descriptive term* fucking bullshit.

That’s a bit harsh. I’ve seen plenty of people using it to highlight the lack of spending by the club.

You think that is harsh.  Here’s harsh.

Anyone using net spend as an argument either doesn’t understand what it does and does not measure, or they do understand and are being deliberately mendacious and trolling.

It’s an either/or, pick one.

All I was going to say is that ALK have a net spend of about £6m

Yes, correct.

Which shows that the new owners aren’t pumping money into the club

Bollocks.

ALK have spent £41.3m since they took over the club.

Yes, but £35m has gone out

Indeed it has.  How?

Chris Wood, Ben Gibson and Jimmy Dunne

First up, Dunne wanted first team football and judged – correctly, IMO – that he was unlikely to become a regular starter.  I think that he is a loss and will at the very least, be an excellent Championship level centre back for a long time.

Now, let’s move to the bullshit ones.

Chris Wood was not sold with the blessing of the club.  He wanted out and he had his release clause paid by Newcastle. The Board turned down offers until the release clause came into effect.

I’ll say it again for the hard of thinking, the only reason Chris Wood is in the “incoming money” column was because the Board and manager were powerless to prevent it.

Incidentally, that was a prominent case of Journalists Not Noticing, as there was absolutely no footballing rationale for Newcastle to do that, but there very, very, definitely was a business case for them doing it.  After all, a well-resourced business took the opportunity to deal damage to a close competitor.  I hold no apathy or dislike for Wood or Newcastle over it because that’s business.

But it was funny how those Solid Football Men didn’t want to talk about it, because clearly parity and fairness in football stops at the point when Big Clubs can just take players from smaller clubs for no reason other than to damage them, and we should all suck it up because that’s Just How Football Works.

And Gibson?

The transfer fee kicked in when Norwich were promoted last summer.  It was an automatic clause put into Gibson’s loan agreement at the start of the previous season and the £8m fee payable last August contingent on the Canaries being promoted.

It was all arranged before the takeover.

So the number is allocated to ALK but the income was negotiated by the previous Board.  If you want to blame Alan Pace for that one, that’s either mental gymnastics or some amazing 4D chess.

Does that mean net spend is completely useless?

Oh no.  If you want to skew something for your audience for clicks and giggles, then “net spend” is exactly the sort of stat you are going to like.  It’s a number that is quickly and easily stripped of context and nuance in order to support a bad faith argument.  There are plenty of others floating around and if you like that sort of thing, you’re going to love forums and Twitter.

In summary, net spend is bullshit and do not trust it as a metric, not least because you should never trust something invented by Rafa Benitez.

Ooh, that’s a shout. Rafa for manager?

As a manager?  Why not?  It represents some kind of similarity with the current setup.  But considering that the first thing that Benitez does after he gets his feet under the desk is to start undermining his own Board, then any Chairman who decides to appoint Benitez is insane.

Anyway, net spend…

Doesn’t tell you that of the players who started against Norwich, four came in under ALK and another was on the bench, does it?

No. Look, all I’m trying to say is that ALK should have spent much more than they have

They’ve spent more in 12 months than the previous Board did in three years and those concerns about the club having too much debt seem to have lasted less than 2000 words.

What will you miss about Dyche at Burnley?

One of the best things about being a Claret was seeing the furious reactions of the opposition fans as they dropped points.  The continual responses posting the Cryarse Bingo Card to Internet whiners is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages.

Cryarse Bingo Card

I absolutely loved seeing the moaning of fans of the Big Clubs, who flocked to their YouTube channels in droves to complain that Little Old Burnley simply refused to Know Their Place.  Are the fans at Turf Moor unaware that the primary job of their club is provide cannon fodder as entertainment for the official noodle sellers of Thailand?  That, when faced with opponents who are heading off to midweek Champions League games the Clarets have a primary duty to not actually try too hard in case they get too tired?  How many Instagram followers does Nick Pope have anyway?

Years ago, when writing about the Storm and the Phoenix, I formulated a theory.  The louder the voice, especially when it was complaining or actively shit-stirring (which it was 90% of the time), the more likely it was that that person did everything they could to avoid paying to watch the team.  I’ve found that to be proven in more modern times, except instead of begging comp tickets from players, journalists or mates not attending, the screaming comes largely from YouTube channels watching dodgy live streams serving up relentless anger and negativity for the numbers.

Anyway, the great Sir Terry Pratchett said that an elemental force of the Universe is narrative.  In the case of Dyche’s tactical approach, it was forever battling against the unstoppable force that was the received wisdom.  Burnley are negative.  Dyche plays long ball percentage football.  What they lack in skill, they make up for by kicking the opposition into the air.  It was largely untrue but it didn’t matter because the narrative was set.

“There has been too much violence, too much pain. Give me the three points and I will spare your lives. Just walk away. I will give you safe passage. Walk away and there will be an end to the horror.” – Sean Dyche’s pre-match advice to the opposition, according to their fans

Sometimes the club could turn that to its advantage – there were a couple of seasons where several opposition clubs weren’t playing Burnley, they were setup to play the idea of Burnley and subsequently got beat when Dyche outfoxed them with such surprising concepts as “passing it on the ground, actually”.  West Ham and Bournemouth spring immediately to mind.

None of this was better illustrated than this seasons draw against Chelsea.  1-0 down after an hour at the home of the European champions, Dyche puts Rodriguez and Vydra on.  Two strikers, who then combined for the equaliser and could have had a winner.  The allegedly outmoded 4-4-2 who always park the bus… came from behind at the home of the European champions.

Did you hear about it?  No, because it didn’t fit the narrative.

But 4-4-2 is outdated

Says who?

The idea that 4-4-2 is outdated has taken flight thanks to the kind of hipster football writing that has become tediously fashionable to present as intellectual credentials.  Include key words such as “philosophy” and “control”, surround them with meaningless statistics such as “progressive forward passes in the middle third” and liberally sprinkle in references to 60s Soviet doctrine or 1980s South American exotica and you can practically cash that cheque from The Guardian.

Besides, it’s going to blow your mind when you find out that other teams that play 4-4-2 include the current La Liga champions and the winners of Euro 2020(1).

Oh, and Manchester United. Probably others.

Sounds like you don’t like analytics

I’m not saying I don’t like in-depth analysis, just that a lot of people have been given an intellectual heft they don’t deserve.  I think that the use of analytics to analyse a game in the past is fine, but anyone using them as a predictor of the future is peddling bullshit. I hate the fact their predictive models are never called to account; I hate the fact that xG has become something taken seriously and I hate the fact that some conversations about football are reduced to discussing spreadsheets.  It’s the Football Managerisation of the game and the overriding feeling that I used to get from reading stats filled articles is that the people involved don’t actually like football and anything out of their expectations is something to be clamped down on instead of celebrated.

A lot of beards will be stroked in celebration at the news of Dyche leaving Burnley, not least because the holes in their spreadsheets won’t be so glaringly obvious on a weekly basis.

Also Michael Cox is so far up Marcelo Bielsa’s arse, he can see Jonathan Wilsons feet.

Remember, Dycheball is thuggery, bus parking, physical effort and eating gravel.  Whereas Bielsaball is attractive, attacking, free-flowing and exciting.

These are the stats since the start of the 2020/21 Premier League season.

TeamFoulsYellow cardsRed cards
Burnley3781041
Leeds5181522

When people say Burnley should play more like Leeds, my response was usually “What? Fouling people all the time?”

That’s as maybe.  It would be nice to see some more aesthetically pleasing football.

Lots of pundits say so, and I agree with them.

It would be nice to wake up and find a shiny new Kylian Mbappe under the Christmas tree but that’s just not the way things are.  The club must find diamonds in the rough, that is just the way it is.  Any good player is snapped up by the Big Clubs to sit in their reserves.

What makes it even harder is they are on wages that make coming to Burnley on loan almost impossible, either because they would be taking a huge pay cut, or the Clarets simply can’t afford the wages and loan fees.  That’s the football business these days, loans are not just for developing players, but an important revenue stream.

Besides, as mentioned, who is going to look at previous loan players and decide that a place on the bench is for them?

So, who’s next?

You tell me.

A lot of pundits are putting forward Sam Allardyce

Wow, that commitment to more progressive football sure lasted long, didn’t it?  Reminds me of the Leeds fans who, when faced with successive thrashings suddenly felt that they needed to be more Burnley.  I suspect the A&E departments in Yorkshire were wondering where all those cases of whiplash came from.

OK then, Michael Duff

Much as I like Duff, he’s barely two seasons into his managerial career.  Plus it smacks of old school, backward thinking.  The chief reason seems to be “he knows the club”.

No he doesn’t.  The Burnley of today is not the Burnley of nine, five or even three years ago.  It has changed, for better or for ill, and the main reason for that change has been Sean Dyche.  The club is continuing to change under new management and it would seem odd to suddenly slam that into reverse.

Buggins’ Turn is a shit way to run a multi-million-pound business.

Well, the Americans will probably appoint Ted Lasso or something

At least he managed a decent FA Cup run.

Chris Wilder? Steve Cooper?

What possible planet are you on?  Why would a manager on the up with a Forest or Boro want to leave all that for a rebuild job at Burnley?  This is blatantly obvious to anyone who thinks about it for, oh, five seconds but yeah, throw the names out there, keep the clicks coming.

Who then?

I have absolutely no idea.  My main worry is whoever it is, they are going to be The Guy Who Follows The Guy.  David Moyes couldn’t fill Alex Ferguson’s shoes at Old Trafford. But it was OK, that clearly obvious mistake was rectified by a proper Football Brain in Louis Van Gaal.  No, wait, what they really needed was Jose Mourinho.  Actually, we meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.  He knew the club inside out.  Hang on, what about someone who was successful in Germany like, er Ralf Rangnick?

If I have one piece of advice for Alan Pace, it is to listen very carefully to the pundits and Solid Football Men, write their suggestions down on a piece of paper and when they are finished, crumple it up and launch it into the nearest bin.  And then set fire to it, just to be sure.

I know that I’d like a more progressive style and a coach willing to adapt his tactics more.  I’d like him to keep the defensive solidity and add some more creative flair.  Someone willing to work with younger players and give them the chance to fail as well as shine. Oh, and I’d also like a pony and a plastic rocket.

Whoever it is must provide all that, replace the greatest manager in the club’s history and deal with a thorough squad overhaul which gets us promoted, all while dealing with a fanbase that is in the mood to turn on the players, manager and Board the instant things go wrong.

So yeah, good luck with that.

What now for Sean Dyche and his staff

I have no idea.  Probably sitting back and waiting for the right opportunity to come his way – he’ll not be short of offers.

I wish him absolutely every possible success.

I hope to see him in the dugout at the Turf.  It will be hard to see him in the away side, but it would be good to stand and applaud him as he marches across the pitch.

I hope that he gets the job that he so thoroughly deserves.  A club that has the budget to match his capabilities.  Realistically, we are talking a Leicester, an Aston Villa.  Maybe at Goodison Park, where Everton have so obviously needed Sean Dyche for the last half decade.

I hope that, in time, he gets a stand at Turf Moor named after him.

I hope that he meets us fans on the beach at Zihuatanejo to reminisce about that European season.

The last eight years have been the absolute best fucking ride in my three decades as a supporter.  There are no happy endings in football and this is no exception. But I’ve had memories to last a lifetime thanks to Sean Dyche and his team and for that I will be forever grateful.

But football never stays static and we are into a new chapter.

UTC.

3 thoughts on “Off Dyche and then?”

  1. Have to say I’m ok with most of this. Was shocked when I heard on Friday, still am (probably with timing) but reality setting in. Not been on Turf for 3 years, and then only rarely, but MY TEAM for 60 odd years. Things have gone stale, and Sean didn’t appear to know / if to change. If Plan A doesn’t work, go to Plan A!
    It’s sad but inevitable that it would come to this, because I’ve never seen Sean wanting to leave. Do we think that there have been words – players / management / owners? I may have missed it, but only the odd player “upset” – all surprised and shocked.
    We’ll probably never know, will we, but the last 9-10 years have been a great journey. Thanks for everything Sean and Woany, you’ll always be Clarets.

    1. Great read and sums the situation up perfectly. 16 wins in 68 is not going to keep you in a job, however there are many reasons for our failures.

      Garlick was running the club on a shoestring and negligently in my view and Sean rescued us year after year.

      This season was one too far as clubs around us continued to strengthen we just continued to start with the majority of the squad from 2018/19.

      The rigidity and excess loyalty of Sean is a major weakness and he rarely takes any risks.

      He rarely tried plan B even loans weren’t an option or given much time to impress. Ask Chalobah Drinkwater Bamford etc they left the bench of their home surroundings to do the same here away from the family. No wonder they were frustrated.

      Vydra was a hero at Derby scoring some amazing goals yet he struggles to control the ball at his feet for us as he seems to panic when given an opportunity.
      Failure do perform means he will be overlooked by the stylish Barnes for future games.

      A change was needed and probably should of been made after the European adventure which was abused by the club, preferring to use it as a fitness exercise for the squad rather than a one off serious opportunity to take on other teams in Europe. Players were not happy with SD’s approach and since then the one club mentality has fizzled away.

      SD has brought some tremendous memories and experiences to the club, despite the woeful lack of investment and he will be a Burnley legend.

      He isn’t perfect though and needs to assess his own achievements and learn from his mistakes to continue to improve as a manager wherever he decides to go next.

  2. Don’t know who wrote this but regarding the comment “Business’s take over Business’s with loans all the time” yes they do but this is a small town football club we are talking about, the last club I can remember that was bought with a leveredge buy out was Man Utd who had the means to service the debt put upon it BFC lack the means to pay off the debt that Alan Pace has thrust upon it disaster awaits, the rest of the article is just nonesense because of the way the club was purchased it’s not going to work.

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