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English Football's Top-10 Managers of the Decade, 2010-2019: 7th - Sean Dyche

Sean Dyche wasn’t even a manager back in 2010, yet the Burnley boss ends the decade as the third-longest serving boss in English football, having occupied his position in the Clarets dugout since October 2012. Since then Dyche has become one of the most successful managers in the club’s history, overseeing two promotions to the Premier League - including a Championship title triumph - and a memorable European journey - his success and popularity has even seen a local pub rename itself to ‘The Royal Dyche’.

Dyche, now synonymous with Burnley, started his own managerial journey down south in 2011 with Championship side Watford, where he’d previously spent time as a player, youth team coach, and then assistant manager under Malky Mackay, with whom he replaced as manager.

Watford were tipped by many quarters to suffer the dreaded drop down to League One, having lost top-goalscorer Danny Graham plus Will Buckley and Don Cowie, while Dyche of course had zero managerial experience to his name. However, the Hornets swatted away the critics as Dyche steered his side to a respectable 11th place - their first top-half finish in four years.

Dyche had reason to be quietly pleased with his impact, but in a harsh move Watford’s new owners, The Pozzo family, ruthlessly dismissed him aside in the summer. Dyche would have been gutted and somewhat bemused at the surprise exit, but after a brief role coaching England U21s alongside Stuart Pearce, he threw himself back into management at Burnley following Eddie Howe’s return to Bournemouth.

What a decision that proved to be. Remarkably, during his time in charge of Burnley Dyche has now outlasted each of his 10 subsequent successors at Watford, and given that those Hornets managers have only averaged 31 league games apiece, he’ll no doubt outlast the club’s new incumbent Nigel Pearson.

No.7: Sean Dyche
No.7: Sean Dyche

In his first 18 months at Burnley, Dyche operated on a shoestring budget with only one paid transfer in, yet he still orchestrated their first automatic promotion to the top-flight since the 1970s, in what was only his first full season at the helm. It really was a fantastic feat considering that his troops were one of the pre-season favourites to go down.

Dyche’s influence over the course of those opening 18 months is best be highlighted by this statistic: When he first took over Burnley had leaked 29 goals in 13 league games - the worst record in the Championship - but then come the end of his first full season the club had won promotion with the division’s meanest defence, conceding just 37 goals in 46 games.

His ability to maximise resources and mould together a cohesive unit was further highlighted by the fact he used only 23 players that season - no Championship club used fewer players.

Dyche’s taste of top-flight management lasted only a year, but despite suffering an instant relegation Burnley deviated from the norm of many clubs as they kept the faith in Dyche. It proved to be a wise decision as he repaid the club’s loyalty by propelling the Clarets to the Championship title - their first trophy in 24 years.

Dyche successfully preserved the club’s top-flight status in 2016/17, and while he lost Michael Keane and Andre Gray for a combined £43.5m, he then oversaw one of the greatest Burnley seasons since the 1970s:

The Englishman enhanced the club’s position by 14 points and a full seven places (7th) - their best finish to a top flight season since 1974 - and secured European football for the first time in half-a-century (51 years).

Dyche is a natural leader who has astutely built together a team in his own image - principles of hard-work, organisation, determination and brilliant collectivism and team spirit - often on a shoestring-budget, which has got to be both admired and respected. “You’ve got nothing to lose if you play hard for every minute and everything to gain,” he once stated.

Dyche’s shrewdness in the transfer market has seen Burnley sign Tom Heaton and Joey Barton on frees, Nick Pope for £1m, Michael Keane for £2m, while James Tarkowski was around the £3m, and Ashley Barnes was rumoured to have been less than £1m.

Dyche utilises his skills as a coach to improve players and enhance their potential, providing they buy into his philosophy. The players that really excel have caught the eye of the big guns, such as Danny Ings to Liverpool and Kieran Trippier moved on to Tottenham, whereas Everton splashed out £25m on Keane. 

Furthermore, under Dyche, Burnley have churned out numerous England internationals, including the current duo of Pope and Tarkowski, as well as Keane, Heaton and Jack Cork. 

The Premier League’s second longest-serving manager has long been linked with a move away from the claret-and-sky-blues, but has yet shown no appetite to leave, which only elevates his status in this section of Lancashire. “We have managed to turn a club that was perhaps ­questioning where it belonged, into the whole town – more or less – totally buying into what we are doing,” Dyche recently revealed when asked about his greatest achievement.

The recipe to his success? Eating worms, allegedly…

Decade CV

2x Championship promotions, including 1x Championship title win

Europa League qualification

Burnley’s best top-flight finish since 1974

Second longest-serving Premier League manager

Third longest-serving Burnley manager

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