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Fairytale of Dyche and Burnley increasingly looks like having unhappy ending


Sean Dyche: Exasperated. Photo: Clint Hughes/PA Wire

Sean Dyche: Exasperated. Photo: Clint Hughes/PA Wire


Sean Dyche: Exasperated. Photo: Clint Hughes/PA Wire

Nothing hurt Sean Dyche quite like the sight of that grim "white lives matter" banner circling above the Etihad Stadium shortly after Burnley kicked off against Manchester City.

It was a reminder of much bigger challenges beyond football. But the angry, alarmed reaction among his senior players to the news that Burnley could name only seven substitutes for that match, including two untried goalkeepers, cut deep with Dyche in a different way.

Some wondered if the Burnley manager was trying to make another point to his chairman, Mike Garlick, only days after decrying the club's hierarchy for allowing contracts to run down.

Yet, as Dyche explained to his unimpressed captain, Ben Mee, this was no stunt; the players put out were the only ones he had at his disposal.

Burnley lost 5-0 but recovered to beat Watford three days later and, tonight, face Crystal Palace knowing victory would move them above Arsenal into eighth and, once again, within sight of Europa League qualification. On the surface, all would appear well at a club who punch considerably above their weight.

Behind the scenes, though, it is a different story as a power struggle ensues between the two men who have done more than anyone to elevate Burnley.

Dyche and Garlick have always challenged each other but what was once a healthy manager-chairman dynamic has become severely strained, and perhaps even fractured beyond repair.

Conscious that Burnley require regeneration and that spiralling transfer fees and better scouting elsewhere will make his frequent Harry Houdini acts in the market all the harder to repeat, Dyche has been asking the club to stretch themselves - just not to breaking point - for longer than he cares to remember.

There have been wins - a £10.5 million training centre and an upgraded academy - but Dyche has wanted more investment, both for the short and long term.

Garlick recognises the importance of all of that and was influential in the appointment of a technical director as Burnley sought to improve their scouting network and internal structures.

But the football plan and the business plan have not, as several sources put it, "come together" as Dyche hoped and this damaging disconnect has led to talk of the manager potentially departing this summer.

This inertia that has exasperated Dyche may be partly explained by suggestions that Garlick is close to selling the club.

Prospective investors have been circling. Burnley's majority shareholder has presided over great success during his eight years as chairman and is entitled to feel he knows how to run a club, and business.

Burnley have just posted a profit for the third consecutive year. There is no villain here.

Yet none of that lessens the frustrations of Dyche, who has performed minor miracles on an average annual net transfer spend of £9 million (€9.9m).

The origins of the breakdown can be traced back to the summer of 2018. Burnley were gearing up for their first foray into Europe for 51 years. Dyche saw the dangers, then, of standing still.

Burnley cannot afford to buy four or five strong players in one window. They need to rebuild over time.

That summer, they were priced out of moves for Craig Dawson, Matt Phillips and Jay Rodriguez and felt the impact of having European football to juggle when they were in the bottom three in the league table with 12 points from 19 games.

You would not have known that from the upbeat mood in the camp - a measure of the spirit forged by Dyche - but he was warning then about the risks of not tying down players to new contracts.

Hence his dismay at seeing Ireland midfielder Jeff Hendrick walking away for nothing. It has to be evolution at Burnley, not revolution.

"If planning is not put in place, you eventually arrive at a moment, which we've had recently, where things all come on top of you at one time," Dyche said.

"I can advise and inform, which I do, but it still takes finance to back that information. I can't write the cheques." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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