The Dyche era is over
Almost four years ago, I saw the Clarets beaten 5-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates. It was a special day of a kind for the home club with manager Arsène Wenger taking charge of a home game for the final time.
Wenger had been with Arsenal for approaching twenty-two years; our manager Sean Dyche was only in his sixth year, although that is some time for a manager to remain at any club. At the time of writing, only five of the current 92 clubs can boast a manager with that longevity of unbroken service, and for the record they are Simon Weaver (Harrogate), Gareth Ainsworth (Wycombe), John Coleman (Accrington), Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool) and Pep Guardiola (Manchester City).
It was an emotional day for the home fans at the Emirates and we played our part. Both sets of fans paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the game following the news that he was in hospital having suffered a brain haemorrhage and then again when the teams provided a guard of honour for Wenger.
A Burnley fan won’t look back at this day with any positive thoughts. Goals from Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (2), Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolašinac and Alex Iwobi gave Arsenal a 5-0 win against us and the only real positive was all the Arsenal fans staying behind after the game, leaving us with no queues at the underground station as we made our way home.
I know the Arsenal fans had been calling for Wenger’s head, but on this day, along with their club, they paid a genuine, warm tribute to someone who had had such an impact on their club. I remember thinking they’d got it absolutely right and thought that when our manager left, we’d be able to give him a similar send off.
You see, by then, he’d won two promotions to the Premier League, got us through one safely and then taken us into Europe. We were on the crest of a wave although, looking back now, it was the peak of our achievement under his management.
Every time we’ve had what have been deemed poor runs, some have suggested it’s time for a change. Yet we’ve always recovered. We did so sensationally in 2018/19 having secured only twelve points by the half way stage, and, having lost four successive games from Boxing Day into January two seasons ago, we then won no fewer than thirty points in the final sixteen games.
Dyche has always told us that it’s not forever and we found that our just five days ago, on Good Friday no less, when the club revealed he’d been sacked along with Ian Woan, Steve Stone and Billy Mercer, the latter having been with the club since January 2010, brought in by then manager Brian Laws.
Chairman Alan Pace said: “Firstly, we would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Sean and his staff for their achievements at the club over the last decade. During his time at Turf Moor, Sean has been a credit both on and off the pitch, respected by players, staff, supporters and the wider football community.
“However, results this season have been disappointing and, while this was an incredibly difficult decision, with eight crucial games of the campaign remaining, we feel a change is needed to give the squad the best possible chance of retaining its Premier League status.”
It soon surfaced that long serving physio Ally Beattie had also departed while reports came in that head of scouting Martin Hodge had been gone a while. However, although Dyche, Woan, Stone and Mercer have been removed from the staff list on the club’s website, those of Beattie and Hodge remain.
We are now searching for a new manager. Michael Jackson was in charge for the first of those eight crucial games and he’s going to be in charge for the second of them too at least. But while that goes on, I’d like to look back, briefly, at Sean Dyche’s time at Burnley by picking out some special games.
When his predecessor Eddie Howe left, we were sixteenth in the Championship with only Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Peterborough having secured less points. Terry Pashley’s short time in charge saw us win two out of three and move up two places. In the strangest of seasons that saw Peterborough go down with 54 points, we ended the season in eleventh place. In his 33 league games in charge, we’d won eleven, drawn eleven and lost eleven.
Then came 2013/14 and a second place finish with 93 points. I was looking to pick out one game from that season. I could so easily have gone for Wigan, the day we clinched promotion, or Nottingham Forest when we turned in an amazing display in the first half. Instead I’ve opted for an away game and I think most would have thought I’d have lost my marbles had I not gone for that incredible 2-1 win at Ewood in March.
The two games against Manchester City were good in the following season when we won four points from them with a draw at the Etihad at home and the home win. It’s the second half performance away, when we came from two behind to draw, that I remember best. We were brilliant in that second half with Ashley Barnes at his very best.
We beat Blackburn twice in the next season but I’d opt for that magical finish against Middlesbrough at home when Michael Keane scored the all important equaliser while the memories of title winning day at Charlton remain vividly.
I’d go for early games in each of the following three seasons. They are the home win against Liverpool in 2016 when Klopp whinged, presumably assuming that we’d just let them win. A year later we won 3-2 on a blistering hot day at Chelsea and that was incredible. It got us off to a dream start in a season when we finished seventh.
European football – I loved my trip to Athens but what a night it was at Aberdeen. So many Burnley fans there, able to take in a competitive European game. It might have only been a draw but that, and Athens, will live with me forever.
In January 2020, I was finally rewarded with something I’d waited well over half a century for. Thanks Chris Wood and thanks Jay Rodriguez for scoring those goals at Old Trafford to beat Manchester United. That’s close to beating Blackburn for me. Jay’s goal was a bit tasty too. Was it the best he’s scored? A definite no, for me, the one he got in the FA Youth Cup at Padiham in January 2007 is the best I’ve seen him score; that was in the days when he had less hair than me.
Last season remains strange in my mind, given we couldn’t be there but had we been able to go then the 1-0 wins at Arsenal and Liverpool weren’t bad.
As for this season, it might not have been our best performance but I’ll end with what proved to be Sean Dyche’s final home game in charge against Everton. The passion in the stands that night helped drive on the players to a 3-2 win. He started with a win, against Wolves at the start of November 2012 and at least his final home game was a win.
This is a very different football club to the one he walked into in October 2012. He’s given us two fantastic promotion seasons and seven seasons in the Premier League. We could not have even dreamed of that. And don’t forget that wonderful training ground we now have; it’s key to the club’s future.
I knew the day would come when he was no longer our manager. I wasn’t expecting that day to be last Friday and remain shocked and stunned. It was weird at West Ham that he wasn’t there. We’ll get used to it, we have to do and that’s how football works. It will be strange when we see him on the touchline wearing a different club tie and that’s bound to happen although I can’t imagine he’ll ever enjoy such an amazing decade as he’s done at Burnley where you can now even drink in the Royal Dyche. And the pub will NOT be changing its name and will ask for a £1 donation to Pendleside Hospice for anyone who asks if they will.
The first time I ever spoke to Sean Dyche was at the club’s AGM soon after he’d joined the club. We were stood by a photograph of Bob Lord and Harry Potts. He said he was keen to learn the history of the club and asked who they were. I told him and said if he got close to being half as good as Potts then everyone would be happy. Half as good. We all have our views on that but he’s been one special manager for Burnley.
Thanks Sean for the last decade. You leave, right up there as one of our very best.Share this page :