Why Sean Dyche could challenge Pep Guardiola for Premier League Manager of the Year award

Andy Dillon by Andy Dillon / 05 March 2018, 15:08

BURNLEY are just as close to Liverpool as West Bromwich Albion.

We’re not talking geographically but in terms of points in the Premier League in what is a remarkable season for the club and its boss Sean Dyche.

Victory over Everton on Saturday puts them on the magic, so-called ‘safety line’ of 40 points. They sit in 7th place – precisely 20 points behind Liverpool and 20 ahead of bottom club West Brom.

Yeh, so Man City have got the title in the bag. And they are favourites to win the Champions League this season. But come on, where’s the romance?

Burnley’s achievements to be currently on the shoulders of Arsenal in the Premier League are admirable but it’s about more than that.

It’s soon going to be time to look at the overall season and decide our manager of the year. It’s easy to stick Pep Guardiola down on the voting form.

But let’s be honest, we all love Dyche don’t we? And why shouldn’t we?

For a start he is English – the leading English manager in the country at present actually.

That in itself is something remarkable in this day and age with most clubs treating British managers like lepers.

He appeals to those of a certain age who remember when clubs were staffed by people who grew up watching football on rain-soaked terraces.

Dyche oozes Britishness from every pore and even Guardiola has admitted he loves that about Burnley - saluting a ‘very English ground’ and English crowd.

There’s honesty, there’s modesty, there’s a sense of humour and a reassuring belief that his players work hard and appreciate what they have got.

Manchester City’s expensive players have sublime skill, they too should be grateful for where they are at the top of the table and put on a show every weekend.

Yet who would you rather go out for an evening pint with? Guardiola or Dyche?

Guardiola’s political stance on the divisions in his Spanish homeland is to be lauded but when it comes to charm and engaging conversation, Dyche wins hands down.

Born in Kettering, he was a defender from the lower leagues in his playing career now bearing a permanent bend in his once broken leg as the symbol of roughing it with the likes of Chesterfield and Northampton.

No grooming in the Barcelona youth team for him. No managerial academy at the Nou Camp to prepare him for a life of managing big clubs in big games with big budgets.

Anyone who has an ounce of romance or desire to try to preserve what crumbs are left of traditional English football should be voting for Dyche as manager of the year.

After a difficult spell of fixtures which included two games against Manchester United and tough fixtures against Tottenham, Manchester City and Liverpool, they are still comfortably in the tpo half of the table.

On Saturday they beat Everton at home 2-1. You could see form the way Everton boss Sam Allardyce shook Dyche’s hand there was a genuine respect for a young manager who is steadily moving onwards and upwards.

It’s one thing to get your players up for the big occasion against the best teams. Guardiola has no problem with that coaching a dressing room full of superstars.

But to go through a sticky patch, then beat one of the most durable teams in the land last weekend and humble Allardyce is another altogether.

Dyche represents more than just a small club punching above its weight. He is a reminder of what our national game once was and hopefully he will hang around long enough to preserve what’s left of it and be justly rewarded with a personal honour at the end of the season.

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