Dyche's Clarets are a real football fit club

1:00pm Tuesday 27th May 2014

By Suzanne Geldard

“RECARO seats at the Turf? Could be interesting,” said Sean Dyche, perhaps thinking how out of place the plush seats so familiar at Premier League grounds would be in comparison to the more traditional bench that occupies Burnley’s old school dugouts.

Such expense would certainly be wasted on the Clarets boss, who for 90 minutes never strays far from the edge of his technical area.

He is not one for sitting down when his team are in action.

“I’m still learning my trade but I just think the connection with the team is an important one,” he said.

“Various managers say they don’t think you can affect it from there but I think you can, so that’s why I’m there really, to affect change in the team if I see fit.

But while Dyche is often a lone prowler within his parameters, pointing the way, he knows success would not have been achieved this season without his team behind the team.

“Absolutely. Never more so than in modern day football,” said Dyche, for whom Ian Woan and Tony Loughlan – his former Nottingham Forest comrades, are his trusted right hand men as assistant manager and first team coach respectively.

Other key staff include goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer, right, physio Ally Beattie, head of sports science Mark Howard.

“I certainly allow my staff to specialise.

“I have a handle on it and become educated from watching and learning and listening in all departments, but I’m not going to dominate people who know a lot more about it than me.

“Mostly each department does what they do because they know what they’re doing – analysis, science, coaches coach when they need to if I’m not coaching, Billy with the goalkeepers.”

There are exceptions to the rule, however.

“There are times when, like in Ireland last pre-season, when it’s my time and I say ‘this is not about science, it’s about psychology’.”

It was a day that the players will never forget; when an ice bath has never looked so appealing.

Dyche had pushed his players to the limit both mentally and physically but all looked back on it as a day when something clicked within the squad.

“It galvanises groups,” said the Burnley boss.

“If you’re asking people to work hard how do you know if they know what real hard work is, unless you challenge them to get to the point of real hard work.

“Some might say ‘they’re not working hard enough’ but do they really know how to work hard?

“The only way to know is to do it, the only way to know how it feels is to do it.

“Compared to what I used to do in the old days before people had GPS, my word, I could tell you some horror stories of pre-season.

“I remember once doing three hours running under Paul Hart at Chesterfield and the only drink we had was from a hose that the groundsman used, and I mean lapping it up.

“You were licking white chalk off the lines because you’re that desperate to get fluid in you.

“We got on a minibus, went to Curbar and did a seven-mile run over the hillside.

“It’s the ugliest pre-season I’ve ever done.”

These days, the pre-season work is hard but through increased awareness and use of sports science it has more purpose.

“My optimum pre-season is finding the measure between full of energy but full of fitness,” said Dyche, a former Millwall defender.

“In the old days you’d be full of fitness but you had that little energy to actually use the fitness wisely, so your body could go there, but you were drained.

“There wasn’t the knowledge on support then so you didn’t have rehydrations and food strategies to make sure you were recovering to find that nice balance.

“This pre-season I thought the science/visual measure was fantastic and obviously you could quite see it in the team.

“When everyone wrote us off and say we couldn’t play like we did, our physical stats in the last five games were probably as powerful as probably the first 10 games. I’m very proud of that.”

With the bulk of last season’s promotion-winning squad intact as Burnley prepare for the Premier League, Dyche knows he will not be able to deliver the same gruelling course, but have the same affect on fitness.

“There are varying cunning plans of how to make teams galvanise,” he said.

“That was something that I’d used before an+d something I believed in, but it won’t be the same.

“There are different versions of a similar process.”


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