Dy­che should stick to his win­ning for­mula

UNIQUE TEAM SPIRIT WILL HELP IN PRE­MIER LEAGUE

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

HALF an hour af­ter Burn­ley lost to Southamp­ton in the FA Cup in Jan­uary, Sean Dy­che strode into the St Mary’s me­dia cen­tre, sat in a plush leather chair and put his feet up on the chunky wooden desk.

“Look at this eh?” he said.“This is a Pre­mier League chair.We’ve got to get our­selves some of these.”

A few weeks ear­lier, a jour­nal­ist’s phone rang in the mid­dle of a press con­fer­ence at Turf Moor.

“That’s a fine, leav­ing your phone on,” said Dy­che, be­fore an­swer­ing.“Hello, Sean Dy­che here, man­ager of Burn­ley Foot­ball Club. Do you want your mate? Are you go­ing for a few beers or what?”

Even when the pres­sure was turned up to 11, he was still reel­ing them out.“What’s the score, what’s the score?” said Dy­che as he burst into Black­pool’s press­room last Fri­day, a ref­er­ence to the Derby game that could have sent his side up if Derby had lost.“Only kid­ding,” he added.“I’m not both­ered.”

It’s easy to dis­miss this stuff as fluff to keep the press chuck­ling. But I pre­fer to see it as an in­sight into Burn­ley’s spirit.Wouldn’t you love play­ing for a guy with that kind of care­free na­ture, that kind of jovial ban­ter? Wouldn’t it make go­ing to work fun? Per­haps most im­por­tant of all, it would make you feel that your job wasn’t ac­tu­ally that im­por­tant. Lis­ten­ing to Dy­che wise­crack his way through in­ter­views, you’d as­sume he was talk­ing about 5-aside with his mates, not a Cham­pi­onship pro­mo­tion push with £90m at stake.

In a sport where vic­tory and de­feat are de­cided by tiny per­cent­ages, sim­ple psy­chol­ogy can make a huge dif­fer­ence. And it can­not be de­nied that Burn­ley’s play­ers have looked ut­terly un­bur­dened by pres­sure.

Now, of course, comes the real test. It is easy to crack jokes when you’re win­ning ev­ery week, it may not be in the midst of a Pre­mier League rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle. And that is al­most cer­tainly what the Clarets now face.

In a piece for the BBC this week, for­mer Burn­ley player Paul Weller urged Dy­che to be “ruth­less” in culling his squad for next sea­son. “You’ve got to be look­ing at eight, nine or ten new play­ers,” he added.

But to my eyes, that would be a ter­ri­ble mis­take. This Burn­ley side’s pri­mary strength is its spirit and fa­mil­iar­ity, that pres­sure-free men­tal­ity forged by Dy­che.

More than the goals of Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, more than the de­fence which has con­ceded the fewest goals in the Cham­pi­onship, it is the co­he­sion and un­der­stand­ing be­tween the 11 play­ers on the pitch and the seven on the bench that has won Burn­ley a place in the Pre­mier League.

These Burn­ley play­ers know Dy­che and trust him. Even a hefty chunk of de­feats in the Pre­mier League wouldn’t de­stroy their be­lief in the boss. A pha­lanx of big-timers may not be so con­vinced.

To rip the squad apart in pur­suit of greater depth and qual­ity would be like ask­ing Usain Bolt to work on his stamina. Sure he could run for longer but if it risked his speed, is it re­ally worth it?

That’s not to say Burn­ley don’t need play­ers. Be­yond the first 13 or 14, they have very lit­tle else.

But the last thing they need is a revo­lu­tion. Crys­tal Palace tried that last year and it was head­ing for dis­as­ter be­fore Tony Pulis saved the day.

It is not about giv­ing play­ers a chance. It is about re­al­is­ing that Burn­ley – this Burn­ley, with its un­shake­able care­free men­tal­ity – is far more than the sum of its parts.

RE­LAXED: Sean Dy­che and top scorer Danny Ings cel­e­brate pro­mo­tion

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