IT’S probably appropriate that a man who used to build walls is currently the cornerstone of the Clarets’ team.
For while Sean Dyche has not got a rebuilding job on his hands, there is an element of refurbishment that comes with any managerial change.
The 41-year-old is the fifth manager I’ve worked with in almost six years covering Burnley Football Club. Steve Cotterill was the first.
He had been set an almost complete rebuilding task after taking over from Stan Ternent, whose tenure had been rocked by the collapse of ITV Digital. Without the expected funds he no longer had the permission to see through his initial plans. He drafted an alternative with tried and tested players.
Such was the exodus of out-of-contract players when Ternent’s reign expired at the end of the 2003/04 season that Cotterill was left with a squad of just eight when he arrived the following summer.
It says much about the former Cheltenham boss’s attitude to transfer targets and player development that one of his first signings, Michael Duff, remains a key player for the Clarets, as does midfielder Chris McCann, who progressed through the youth system under his watch, while Jay Rodriguez – who was awarded his first professional contract in the summer of 2007 – became a club record £7million sale five years later.
A run of one win in 10 games the season after an even stickier patch suggested the project needed a new vision.
Like a flamboyant interior designer Owen Coyle breezed into Turf Moor and added some eye-catching finishing touches.
There were some curious purchases (Remco van der Schaaf, Diego Penny, Fernando Guerrero) that were neither use nor ornament.
But Coyle brought home the silverware, the Championship play-off trophy, and a place in the Premier League.
Although Cotterill had denied the opportunity to see the job through, he had laid the foundations for success, with no less than nine out of the 16-man squad at Wembley signed by the former boss, including goalscorer Wade Elliott and man of the match Clarke Carlisle.
But cracks began to show when Coyle left the job half-finished the season after, and Brian Laws was not the man to fix them.
Eddie Howe came in to bring stability to a project that was losing money.
Expensive, depreciating assets were moved on, and the young manager set out on building back up from the bottom, reinforcing the foundations, albeit through the appointment of young apprentices such as Kieran Trippier, Junior Stanislas and Ben Mee – to name three – that would need time to grow into their roles.
That meant there were incon-sistencies in their work.
For Howe there was a focus on the bigger picture, as well as immediate results, but not everyone bought into his grand designs and, in the end, unforeseen circumstances meant a change of location.
Dyche is the new ‘project’ manager. He has stressed the groundwork is already in place, his immediate focus is on the framework, and he has made the Clarets instantly more robust.
Back-to-back wins and clean sheets in his first two games is evidence of that.
The ‘apprentices’ are a year older and wiser.
But he will need the tools to keep making improvements in January, whatever happens to bricklayer turned predator Charlie Austin.