Tipped to be a man­ager from the age of 13

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

SEAN Dy­che was 13 and sat be­hind a school desk when he was first tipped for a ca­reer in the dugout.

“It was a lad called Chris, who I still see,”said the Burn­ley man­ager. “He said‘I think you’ll be an al­right player but I think you’ll be a man­ager’.”

And in both senses, that cock­sure teenager was dead right. Of course, that’s not to un­der­mine the 42-year-old Dy­che’s abil­ity.

A skil­ful mid­fielder as a young­ster, he ig­nored the flat­tery of Chelsea and As­ton Villa to sign for Not­ting­ham For­est, then man­aged by Brian Clough.

There, Dy­che was tipped to take the top flight by storm,but a badly bro­ken leg at 17 – he was wiped out by his own goal­keeper dur­ing an FA youth Cup match – stunted his progress and he even­tu­ally joined Ch­ester­field in 1990 with­out play­ing a first team match.

By then, at 6ft tall and about as wide, he was play­ing cen­tre half and would spend the next seven years be­com­ing a Spire­ites le­gend.

Ob­du­rate but in­tel­li­gent on the ball,he skip­pered the League One side to an FA Cup semi-fi­nal against top-flight Mid­dles­brough in 1997, fa­mously step­ping up to score the penalty that made it 2-0.

Though Boro clawed their way back to 3-3 and won the re­play 3-0, it re­mains the mo­ment for which he is most re­mem­bered.

“I didn’t want to take it,so there’s no hero thing,” he said. “But our penalty tak­ers weren’t on the pitch. Jamie He­witt started to go for­ward for the ball. I went up to him and said,‘Do you want it, Jamie?’

“He gave me the im­mor­tal line, ‘Not re­ally, but I’ll take it’. I went, ‘That’s f***ing use­ful then’,so in the end I got the ball and just smashed it down the mid­dle.”

Though suc­cess proved elu­sive at Ch­ester­field, Dy­che would sub­se­quently win pro­mo­tions with Bris­tol City (1998), Mill­wall (2001) and Northamp­ton (2006), not to men­tion a suc­cess­ful three-year stint at Wat­ford which saw him named cap­tain.

Heart­beat

It was a spell that must have made a big im­pres­sion be­cause in 2007 the Hor­nets in­vited him to be­come their youth team coach.

Two years later, Malky Mackay pro­moted him to as­sis­tant and when the Scot left to Join Cardiff in 2011,Wat­ford asked Dy­che to take the reins.

“It was an easy de­ci­sion,” said then Wat­ford di­rec­tor and for­mer Eng­land boss Gra­ham Tay­lor. “Sean un­der­stands the heart­beat of the club.And there is no mess­ing about – he tells you as it is.You may not agree with him but I don’t want to em­ploy a man­ager who I agree with all the time. He stands by his opin­ion, tries to jus­tify it and I am happy with that.”

As an un­tried rookie scep­ti­cism was rife, es­pe­cially with sev­eral play­ers hav­ing de­parted and a squad con­structed of raw kids. Many tipped them for rel­e­ga­tion.

But, af­ter a rocky start, Dy­che steered the club to 11th in the Cham­pi­onship, their high­est fin­ish in five years.

And though Dy­che learned at the hand of dis­ci­plinar­ian Cloughie, Michael Kightly, who spent a spell on loan at Wat­ford from Pre­mier League Wolves, says the method is more car­rot than stick.

“That loan spell helped me mas­sively,” he said. “I played un­der a great man­ager in Sean Dy­che. I was sur­prised at just how good he was. He han­dles his play­ers bril­liantly and just tells ev­ery­one to go out and play their own game. And he got me so fit – by the end, I felt as good as I have in my en­tire ca­reer.”

To the fury of fans and out­siders alike, Dy­che was dis­carded at the end of that sea­son with new Ital­ian own­ers the Pozzo fam­ily keen to ap­point Gian­franco Zola.

It was, though, not long be­fore he was back with Cham­pi­onship Burn­ley an ea­ger suitor in Oc­to­ber 2012. Af­ter a dif­fi­cult end to last sea­son – and the de­par­ture of top scorer Char­lie Austin – the Clarets were ex­pected to strug­gle. But, just as at Wat­ford, Dy­che is beat­ing the odds with the Clarets pick­ing up seven points from their first three games.To good friend and for­mer team-mate Ian Woan, it is no sur­prise.

“I have known Sean for over 20 years and man­age­ment was al­ways the di­rec­tion he was go­ing in,” he said. “Even when he was play­ing he would talk a hell of a game, he was al­ways tac­ti­cal and it was al­ways more than a game to Sean. He was al­ways dis­sect­ing the game and talked pas­sion­ately about it.

“So nobo­body who has known him for a large amount of time will be sur­prised at where he is right now.”

FA CUP GLORY: Sean Dy­che scores his penalty for Ch­ester­field against Mid­dle­brough

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