FootballPremier League

Sean Dyche deserves an opportunity to prove himself at a bigger club in the Premier League

April 19, 2022

NOBODY liked Burnley under Sean Dyche. That, however, was their greatest strength. Despite consistently having the smallest budget in the Premier League, rivals of greater stature and individual talent would dread visits to Turf Moor. The Clarets played a physical, direct game, but it kept them in the top flight for six straight seasons.

That streak might well come to an end this season with Burnley currently slumped in the bottom three, but few believe Dyche’s shock sacking last week will do anything to boost their chances of staying up. In fact, many see the 50-year-old’s exit as the thing that has sealed the club’s relegation fate.

Dyche is now available and his record at Burnley should be enough to earn him an opportunity at a bigger Premier League club. His straight-talking manner and crude style of play might put off some, but Dyche has repeatedly proved himself as a maximiser of talent over the course of his managerial career. A number of clubs would be lucky to have him.

Everton would be one such club. The Goodison Park side have given themselves managerial whiplash by switching between a number of different coaches in a number of different moulds to the point that Frank Lampard’s team have no tactical basis beneath them. Dyche would certainly do a better job of giving them a structure.

No matter how Everton’s own fight against relegation ends, a rebuild is desperately required this summer and Dyche would be a strong candidate to lead it. This might not satisfy Farhad Moshiri’s apparent desire to turn the Toffees into a modern, free-flowing team like the one Jurgen Klopp has forged across Stanley Park, but Everton supporters frequently make the point that they merely want their team to fight hard and represent the fanbase. A Dyche Everton team would do this.

Burnley under Dyche were typecast as long ball merchants, and it’s true the Clarets would often use direct passing to unsettle opposition teams. However, this is a reductive way to look at what Dyche built during his time at Turf Moor with Burnley a more adaptable team than many gave them credit for.

While Burnley have never been a high-pressing team in the way Liverpool or Manchester City are, they can force opponents into mistakes high up the pitch. One of Dyche’s best qualities is the way he sets up his side depending on the challenge in front of them and this is reflected in how Burnley played against certain teams.

Against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton, for instance, Dyche frequently set up Burnley to deny the opposition space on the rapid counter-attack. This would see most Clarets players occupy an average position inside their own half in a response to the high-packed, quick transition football played by the Saints under their Austrian coach.

Against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, though, Dyche pushed his Burnley players high up the pitch more than once to exploit the Gunners’ weakness in playing out from the back. Depending on the scenario, Dyche would also make good use of the wide areas or ask his team to play through the middle.

There’s a good chance Dyche will be classed as just another Sam Allardyce. He might never get the chance to take a step up the Premier League ladder such is the way his Burnley team was viewed, but there are surely a few clubs curious at what the 50-year-old could do on a bigger stage (and with a bigger budget). Relegation from the Premier League, should it materialise for Burnley, shouldn’t be the mark of Dyche’s ability as a coach. Instead, we must look at how long he avoided it.