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Dyche: Clarets are moving on up
SWEAT on the shirt; minimum requirement, maximum effort – these were among Sean Dyche's early mantras on his appointment as Burnley manager a year ago this month.
They have all conspired to fashion another of his ideals: A one club mentality.
By that he means the players, staff and most crucially supporters all buying into the football he strives to deliver.
Dyche has always maintained that results are paramount to the process. But there is no doubt all the elements have gone hand in hand to engineer the Clarets' best start to a season in more than 50 years.
Considering one of the most congested Championship tables in memory led to safety only being secured in the penultimate game last season they have come a long way in a short time.
Dyche always knew they were capable of better.
Did he expect to be top at this stage? No.
But he is ready and prepared for the fresh challenges he, his players, and his club now face through the groundwork put in place during his first 12 months in charge.
“I mentioned last year and I’ve said this year that I think there were some good things going on,” said the Burnley boss.
“We felt that a lot’s changed, each manager has their own way of doing things. I must make it clear that’s nothing about the previous regime, it’s just that I want to get to how we want to do things.
“We feel we’ve built the things that I wanted to improve, like the sports science, the link between physiotherapy, sports science and first team coaching staff.
“We’ve altered and improved the mentality, the culture and the environment – there have been good signs of that.
“There have been a lot of things behind the scenes, some of which I can talk about, like re-aligning the idea of a scouting structure.
“It’s still in process, it’s not done – although I don’t think it ever is really. That kind of thing that then links in with the first team and our recruitment.
“Of course all that has to end up with getting results. I’m not naive. But it’s nice to see that some of those things do affect the outcome, and I think clearly do.”
Dyche put fitness first in the summer.
“A lot’s been documented on the good shape the players are in, that’s an important thing.
“That can only happen with good sports science and support and coaching staff support. I’ve been pleased with that,” he added.
“I’ve mentioned many times the framework’s got to be there because you’ve got to find a way of stopping the opposition because there are some good teams and we’ve got to respect that.
“From that framework there has to be licence to go and play.
“We put some models and shapes to the team, but a lot of it we believe in them becoming what they are as individuals and linking as a team to attack. There have been good signs of that.
“I’m pleased with the way players are improving, the will to improve and the demand to improve. They’ve been excellent.
“They’re all the good things.
“Through all the outside noise it’s my job to see my way through all that, know what we’re doing daily, know what we’re doing weekly, know what we’re doing monthly, how we’re changing it, how we’re improving it and of course work to get the outcome in a slightly longer term.
“There’s a fantastic feel. That’s one of my nirvana moments.
“If you get a one club mentality, if you get noses pointing in the right direction.
“If you get fans believing in what you’re doing, you get the board, the players, the staff – everyone can feel something.
“There are good things going on here. It takes time but it does develop and you can build something, and that’s all we’re trying to do, to build something.
“Where that can take us we’ll see, but at the moment it’s moving forward.”
The relationship with his players has clearly grown over the last 12 months – particularly those who were brought in just before Eddie Howe returned to Bournemouth.
There was a period of adjustment. But even those who have been short on match minutes this term, such as Brian Stock, are all loving Turf Moor life at present. And Dyche is keen for that bond to grow.
“I made it clear to the players that I’ll always be part of them, but they must know where it lives.
“I think I’m respectful of that as much as they are respectful of it,” said the 42-year-old, who used the international break to take the remaining squad members to see comedian Jason Manford in Preston.
“They don’t abuse our relationship, they use it wisely. We have fun when it’s time to have fun and we make sure there’s a demand there when we need to have a demand.
“But I like to be close to my players, I think it’s important."
Dyche is too much of a student of the game – at home and abroad – to allow himself, or his payers, to rest on their laurels.
“The way the Germans press at the minute, tactically, individually is fantastic,” he noted.
“If you look at some of the pass maps, they’ve changed – Barcelona dominate with beautiful football, Spain as well, heavily linked with the Barcelona connection, so then everyone decides that's the way forward.
“I’m not saying it’s not, I’m saying ‘is it?’ Because the Germans have come along and said you can have as much possession as you want, as many passes, but we’re going to press, get it off you and score.”
Reflecting on the last 12 months, closer to home Dyche admired the way his friend and former Watford colleague Malky Mackay encouraged different ways of winning to lift the Championship title last season. It makes for a promising next 12 months, with Dyche keeping his eye on the ball.
“We’ve shown good signs of different ways of winning, but it’s still a work in progress and there are loads of challenges to come,” said the Burnley boss.
“But that’s a look at what I feel is happening in football, and what we can learn from it as a group and add into it.
“It’s always about information, tactics, movement patterns, things like that. Your eyes zoom in on that, and you try and keep up to date with modern trends.
“A lot of it is perception. What is the right way of playing? It's got to be to win, surely?
“That’s never changed. There is a better way of winning, but it doesn’t make it the way,” Dyche added.
“There are learnings from everywhere, and I try and pick up whatever I can to try and help myself and my staff.”
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