Sean Dyche played under the legendary manager Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest and learned plenty from him as the Burnley manager approaches nine years at the Clarets
Sean Dyche is in full flow, doing a fine Brian Clough impersonation.
He’s telling an anecdote from his days as a young pro at Nottingham Forest when Clough told him to take off Des Walker’s boots after another stellar display.
It was Clough’s way of lauding Walker and reminding Dyche he had to earn the right at Forest.
“Cloughie would say to me ‘hey, young Ginger, go and take Des’s boots off’,” he told Mirror Sport.
“I’d go over to take his boots off and Cloughie would say ‘he’s been carrying us all season! Well done Dessie! Young Ginger will take your boots off for you’.
“It was a sign of respect. There was a real hierarchy at Forest and if you were a young pro, you had to earn the right.”
Clough also kept him and his contemporaries like Ian Woan and Steve Stone, who are his right-hand men at Burnley, grounded by making them work in his garden.
“He used to get a few of us up at his house to brush the leaves in his garden,” said Dyche, who shared a house with Roy Keane when he first came to Forest. “We found a tennis ball one day, jumped over to next door’s and played head tennis.
“He came down and slaughtered us for being in the neighbour’s garden, but when he found out we were playing head tennis, he completely turned, put his thumbs up and said ‘well done, practising your trade’.
“Gary Charles, a friend of mine, played in the first team at a very young age, but he still had him up at his house to sweep the leaves. It was really interesting how he handled players.
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“In the dressing room he had the most incredible power I have ever seen of making grown, mature professional players feel 10 foot tall with just one line.
“He could also absolutely reduce people to under the door, he could murder people with three lines. Boom!”
While Dyche’s focus then was trying to make it as a player, he was absorbing Clough’s values which later helped shape him as a manager.
As he celebrates nine years at Burnley tomorrow, he has been reflecting on the people who have influenced him.
Growing up the youngest of three boys in Kettering, Dyche’s parents taught him the importance of hard work and he learned responsibility from his dad Alan, who was a management consultant with British Steel.
Bob Thomas/Getty Images)
“I remember distinctly with my dad, no excuses,” he said. “If it’s not working, then you’ve got to work harder. It’s not ‘oh, it’s the coach’. Trust me, there was none of that with him.”
Dyche, 50, first began to appreciate football’s bigger picture during his four years under John Duncan at Chesterfield, the highlight being reaching the 1997 FA Cup semi-finals.
He noted how Duncan astutely wrung every last drop out of that squad to enjoy a successful era with the Spireites.
“John Duncan and his assistant Kevin Randall made an all-right group into a very strong group,” he said. “We got promoted, we were fighting at the top of the table, reached an FA Cup semi-final.
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“I was about 24, 25, 26 and started to think ‘what’s my role within the team?’. I started thinking differently and he was the first who made me think not just about me, but about the team and tactics.”
Fast forward to today and Dyche is the Premier League ’s longest-serving manager and the third longest in Burnley’s 139-year history.
He is enjoying his seventh season in the top flight with the Clarets, despite consistently operating on one of the smallest budgets in the league.
‘Young Ginger’ has certainly earned the right.