The Ginger Mourinho: As Burnley edge closer to making their Premier League dream a reality, Dyche insists: You don't have to be a foreign coach to be successful

By Malcolm Folley

For privacy, he ushers us into a small, windowless room at Burnley’s training headquarters within the grounds of the National Trust park at Gawthorpe Hall, a short drive from Turf Moor.

The effect is to make Sean Dyche even more imposing, if that is possible for a man 6ft 1in tall who favours a razored, red- stubbled haircut and a goatee beard that could glow in the dark.

By his own admission, Dyche spent 20 years travelling through English football as a ‘decent journeyman’, playing in every division except the Premier League, before his first managerial appointment ended with the sack at Watford when new Italian owners installed Gianfranco Zola. 

VIDEO: Scroll down to watch Dyche's reaction to a reporter's phone ringing

Homegrown: Sean Dyche has taken Burnley within touching distance of returning to the Premier League

Homegrown: Sean Dyche has taken Burnley within touching distance of returning to the Premier League

Rising up: Burnley have a 10 point gap above the promotion chasing pack in the Championship this season

Rising up: Burnley have a 10 point gap above the promotion chasing pack in the Championship this season

True Brit: Sean Dyche
Portugeezer: Jose Mourinho

Foreign policy: Dyche has shied away from comparisons with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho (R)

Barely two years later, Dyche is nine games away from becoming a Premier League manager with Burnley and some are calling him the ‘Ginger Mourinho’.

Dyche is unwilling to be deceived by such flattery. ‘People haven’t always called me that!’ he said with a smile. ‘I don’t get carried away by back-slapping. I have a hard-core of mates I grew up with and they will tell you I’ve never bothered, whether I am a hero or zero. But I do like to be respected for what I do.’

Respect is not in short supply for the team Dyche has built on a minute budget and the manner in which they have secured second place in the Championship behind Leicester, who travel to Turf Moor on Saturday as runaway leaders under another English coach, Nigel Pearson. ‘I think Nigel is in a position to plan for the Premier League, as they have done a terrific job after missing out in the play-offs last season,’ said Dyche. ‘But our challenge is not about Leicester, it’s about us.

‘We haven’t been beaten at home for a calendar year, so it’s a big challenge for anyone coming to Turf Moor. The game with Doncaster at home on Tuesday is just as important as the Leicester game. People tell me this is the business end of the season, but the business end of the season is every game.’

Dyche, 42, is a reminder that club chairmen in need of new a manager do not necessarily need to scour Europe. ‘Imagine a British manager is doing well and a top job comes up,’ said Dyche. ‘But there is a concern as people say, “Ah, but he hasn’t played or worked at that level”. Yet a European manager comes in who hasn’t any experience at that level and no one mentions it. I’m not questioning the appointments — and I must make it clear I am not against foreign managers — but in the bigger picture, isn’t that thinking strange?

Claret everywhere!  Sam Vokes (C) celebrates scoring in Burnley's 3-0 win at Charlton

Claret everywhere! Sam Vokes (C) celebrates scoring in Burnley's 3-0 win at Charlton

First blood: Burnley's Ashley Barnes, right celebrates scoring their opening goal at The Valley

First blood: Burnley's Ashley Barnes, right celebrates scoring their opening goal at The Valley

‘Is it an absolute prerequisite for a Premier League manager to have played in the Premier League? Facts tell you probably not. Is it helpful? I am sure it is. Is management, broadly speaking, still about man-management? Probably more so than ever. Having a squad of 25 players is like having 25 mini-companies and you have to try to get across what is appropriate and what is important.

‘There are British coaches who are equally good. Brendan Rodgers is the present market leader and a man I learned from at Watford. He’s had his share of challenges, at Watford, then Reading. At Swansea, he took what was there to another level.

‘At Liverpool, he’s been through more challenges but what he has shown, with the  tremendous job he has done, can only bode well for others trying to earn their spurs.’

In the summer, Dyche had to sell Burnley’s top scorer Charlie Austin to QPR for £4million through economic necessity. ‘I am quite pragmatic,’ he said. ‘The big thing in English football is thinking you have to pass like Barcelona, which is all well and good if you have the best players in the world.

Living the dream: Dyche is nine games away from taking Burnley to the Premier League

Living the dream: Dyche is nine games away from taking Burnley to the Premier League

Runaway leaders: Leicester travel to Turf Moor on Saturday where Burnley haven't been beaten this year

Runaway leaders: Leicester travel to Turf Moor on Saturday where Burnley haven't been beaten this year

'People forget that. I think, ‘‘Look at what you’ve got, not what you haven’t got, and ask, How can I make that unit effective?’’

‘Whichever way you look at it, what has never gone out of fashion is winning. I am fortunate at Burnley because we have a good mixture of energy and good tactical understanding from the players, coupled with technical ability that enables us to play good football — and win.’

Dyche, who captained Chesterfield on their shock run to the FA Cup semi-finals where he scored at Old Trafford, talks forcefully with passion for the game — and for those who play it. His earliest memories, as well as the standards he has established at Burnley, derive from his apprenticeship at Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough. ‘When your dad told you stories of Clough and you heard others talking of him as a genius football manager, it was pretty powerful for a young lad,’ said Dyche. ‘Actually, there was a big human side. I used to do his garden with other apprentices. We’d brush the drive, help collect up the leaves … and play football in his garden.

‘Then, he would cook for us and we’d watch an episode of Only Fools And Horses with him and he loved Del Boy. To finish off, he would give us a tenner. Bearing in mind I was on only £28 a week, a tenner was a handy sum.’

Journeyman: As a player, Dyche captained Chesterfield to an FA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough

Journeyman: As a player, Dyche captained Chesterfield to an FA Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough

Italian job: Gianfraco Zola
Replaced: Sean Dyche

Sign of the times: Dyche was replaced as Watford manager by Italian legend Gianfranco Zola (L)

Financial necessity: Dyche was forced to sell top scorer Charlie Austin to QPR for £4m to balance the books

Financial necessity: Dyche was forced to sell top scorer Charlie Austin to QPR for £4m to balance the books

As teenagers, Dyche and his friend Steve Stone, who later played for England, broke a leg within days of each other. After they had surgery, Clough called them in and Dyche remembers the Forest manager pointing at their crutches, as he said: ‘I don’t want to see you here again until you are off them buggers. He meant it in a good way but he didn’t like crutches as his own career ended early through injury, of course.

‘I’ll never forget him asking, “Are your family all right?” It didn’t register at the time but I later realised he wanted to know if they needed any help financially.’

Dyche’s family needed no assistance. His father, Alan, was a management consultant for British Steel. His mother, Patsy, provided a loving home for her three sons, Sean, and his older brothers, Neil, a builder, and Andrew, a manager with Weetabix.

DYCHE'S VERDICT ON HIS CHAMPIONSHIP PROMOTION RIVALS...

Leicester ‘Take Burnley out of the equation, Leicester are the best team in the Championship. They have a good mixture of youth and experience gained from last year’s disappointment at missing out in the play-offs. Make no mistake, Nigel Pearson has a good side.’

Derby ‘Steve McClaren has made them more defence-minded since he replaced Nigel Clough. Steve is one of the most experienced managers in the game.’

QPR ‘With the wealth of players they have and the experience of Harry Redknapp to draw on, I don’t think they can be written off. It’s tough not to have an indifferent spell in this league.’

Not out of it: Harry Redknapp's QPR cannot be written off this season, despite recent poor results

Nottingham Forest ‘The demand for success from manager Billy Davies is high because they have spent some money. They have a massive squad but they have also had to deal with a few injuries, which affects results.’

Wigan ‘The biggest non-surprise to those in the division is the position of Wigan. Uwe Rosler walked into a job with a talented and experienced squad. When we played them, their bench wage bill was probably bigger than that of our team. But you still have to make teams win.’

It’s a real tough division,  topsy-turvy, and it would be foolish to discount Reading or Brighton from going on a run.

Between his family and Clough, Dyche discovered the tenets he prescribes to his brand of  management, as well as to his life as a husband and father of two children, Max, 11, and Alicia, 8. ‘It’s very difficult to be successful without key core values. They are called old-fashioned values but they have never been more modern: respect, good manners, good time-keeping, pride, passion, hard work, belief, integrity. They are the glue that holds everything together.

‘As I tell my players, it is vital to safeguard those values. When Spain win the World Cup, or England win at rugby, or Oxford win the Boat Race, it’s rare that the first person who speaks says, “We were far more skilful”. Instead, they tell of the work ethic, the respect in the group, the camaraderie and honesty. It’s what I look for in my team.

Ole Big Head: Dyche learned the tools of his trade under the legendary Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest

Ole Big Head: Dyche learned the tools of his trade under the legendary Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest

Benchmark: Dyche has pointed to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers (C) as a British manager finding success

Benchmark: Dyche has pointed to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers (C) as a British manager finding success

‘The players know there is a line they can’t cross. Trust me. They know I can have fun and know I am human. I do care about them — empathy is important. They are strong but, conversely, they can be fragile like china cups. Most footballers are like that.’

Dyche is an avid reader of biographies, autobiographies and books that can broaden his knowledge in the search for success. As a defender, he won promotion with Chesterfield — he joined them after leaving Forest without having made their first team — Bristol City, Millwall and Northampton, but it is as a manager he is nearing the summit of his profession.

‘I didn’t play in the Premier League and perhaps that gives you a little more humility,’ said Dyche. ‘I don’t take things for granted. Some people’s fuel is money, some people’s fuel is fame; for others it’s having a flash car. Mine will always be winning.’

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Good article. Dyche knows how to coach of course. But he also knows how to manage people and that is the real key- he gets the maximum out of everyone around him. As did Clough.

0
3
Click to rate

As a Rams fan, I have been waiting for the Burnley wheels to fall off all season. Yet they are still there. Three recent matches against QPR then Forest then us was a massive test. What did burnley do - two wins and a draw. Everyone talks about losing Austin in the summer, but they also lost their keeper to Derby. And he was fans player of the year last year. A massive hole at the front and back of the team yet they are even better. A top manager who is destined for the top. Well done Sean.

0
12
Click to rate

Dyche has all the passion and qualities of Harry Potts. He understands that Burnley FC is the blood of the town, long may he reign.

2
24
Click to rate

This posting, like many on this thread is utter rubbish. The previous manager was good but limited. He could not organize the defence and he made good buys and bad buys. He would not have taken them above mid-table where your team is now. I know because I watch every week.This manager has brought in largely free transfers and everyone has been a success. He knows how to MANAGE. As for the posting below saying he hasn¿t won anything he is new in management. Honestly I wonder how you manage to spell your own name. Dyche is a top, top manager.

2
21
Click to rate

Haha. Destroyyou. You're my hero.

12
0
Click to rate

This guy has done a remarkable job, he really has. Yes mourinho, fergie etc are all great managers, but most of the time they have a bottomless pit of cash to get the best players in the world, which let's face it, does help! It's not just about the players you have, it's about figuring out how to make them work as a team, and boy has he done that! He's calm, collected and not getting carried away with the excitement of it all. I have the utmost respect for him. As a lifelong burnley fan, I am eternally grateful! And we got an article in the national press, wow! Now come on burnley, finish the job! UTC!!

3
34
Click to rate

no one can deny the amazing job hes doing and if i recall rightly watford where in a decent posistion when he left them through no fault of his own.as for the zero trophies comment,isnt that the case for most managers,are they all bad until they win something?? i just hope he doesnt jump ship like coyle did,doesnt seem to have his ego so doesnt look likely.its a great time to be a claret!!!

3
38
Click to rate

no one can deny the amazing job hes doing and if i recall rightly watford where in a decent posistion when he left them through no fault of his own.as for the zero trophies comment,isnt that the case for most managers,are they all bad until they win something?? i just hope he doesnt jump ship like coyle did,doesnt seem to have his ego so doesnt look likely.its a great time to be a claret!!!

1
16
Click to rate

Jon Royal Navy - I suggest you do your research. Your comment shows that you know next to nothing. This team was mid-table when Howe was manager, and it was not 'completely built' by Howe. Heaton, Jones, Arfield and Barnes are all Dyche signings. The first three in particular have been absolutely crucial this season, while Barnes is now showing his worth having been given a chance. As for Ings and Vokes - Howe may have signed them but he preferred starting Austin. We've excelled since we sold Austin and gave them both a chance - Dyche has got the best out of them as he has done with all of the players. Building a team may be important, but that's no use if you don't have the man-management skills. Where are Bournemouth in the league right now? Your comments reek of ignorance and jealousy. I suggest you have a think before you post in future. You might yet be able to stop yourself from coming across as an idiot.

2
55
Click to rate

Jon Royal Navy - I suggest you do your research. Your comment shows that you know next to nothing. This team was mid-table when Howe was manager, and it was not 'completely built' by Howe. Heaton, Jones, Arfield and Barnes are all Dyche signings. The first three in particular have been absolutely crucial this season, while Barnes is now showing his worth having been given a chance. As for Ings and Vokes - Howe may have signed them but he preferred starting Austin. We've excelled since we sold Austin and gave them both a chance - Dyche has got the best out of them as he has done with all of the players. Building a team may be important, but that's no use if you don't have the man-management skills. Where are Bournemouth in the league right now? Your comments reek of ignorance and jealousy. I suggest you have a think before you post in future. You might yet be able to stop yourself from coming across as an idiot.

4
23
Click to rate

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now