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Suzanne Geldard: Burnley boss managing to do more than motivate
WITH Burnley riding high in the Championship going into the last 20 games, it is impossible not to rewind the memory bank five years.
On the surface, you will find the sands of time have not changed much about Turf Moor after a few transitional seasons.
The similarities to that last promotion campaign are plentiful.
The small squad size, for example, which has been assembled and maintained on a limited budget, with a young, up and coming manager at the helm in his first full season in charge.
There is a blend of youth and experience. There is little in the way of squad rotation too.
In the play-off winning campaign Burnley used the least amount of players – just 23 – compared to any of their Championship counterparts, despite playing significantly more games through their progress in both cup competitions.
This season the Clarets have used even fewer so far, with 22 players in total getting first team minutes, and just 18 of those starting.
In both seasons Burnley have very much been underdogs.
Before a ball was kicked ahead of either campaign they were among the favourites for relegation.
The tables have turned.
But there is one big difference with regard to whether the Clarets can repeat the seemingly impossible dream, and that is the managerial philosophy.
Owen Coyle was the master of motivation. He made his players feel like they could do anything and achieve anything. And they did.
Even when Burnley faced a three-goal deficit after the Carling Cup semi-final first leg at Spurs, the Scot maintained an unwavering belief that they were still in the tie.
He was proved right, and the Clarets almost pulled off the shock of the century after clawing their way back from 4-1 down.
It was five years to the date on Tuesday that the Clarets were so cruelly denied a place at Wembley, after defying logic by taking Premier League opposition to extra time.
Coyle reminded them of that when they did eventually reach the national stadium a few months later; how you can never say never.
Sean Dyche has had a similar impact this season.
When someone asks why, he says why not?
He has made players believe in themselves and brought the best out of them, with star strikers Danny Ings and Sam Vokes two cases in point.
Keith Treacy has benefited from the manager’s words of wisdom and encouragement also.
“The gaffer came in and really picked me up. He does that,” said the winger, who has responded well to being restored to the side.
Treacy faces stiff competition for his place from Michael Kightly, for whom the opportunity to work with Dyche again, after a spell with Watford, was a big factor in him choosing the Clarets for a season-long loan from Stoke.
“He is arguably one of the best gaffers that I’ve played under,” said Kightly.
While Coyle was blessed with a group of players that came together at the right time, and relied on getting the most out of players by making them feel invincible, there there is more method to Dyche’s man management.
He has gelled this team into one that can press and play equally effectively, and he knows exactly the moment when one or the other is required.
With precious little money to spend, he has recruited efficiently.
Coyle, in contrast, was wasteful at times (Remco van der Schaaf, Fernando Guerrero, Diego Penny ... need I go on?).
The proof of the pudding will be in the final outcome, of course.
But Dyche has already proved to be more than a Mr Motivator.
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