Everton are calling, but Dyche is better off at Burnley

Adam Heap Roar Rookie

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    In the current Premier League, when any team outside the top six is set to lose their manager, there’s one name mentioned first: Sean Dyche.

    The Burnley boss has now been in charge of the Clarets for five years. In that time he has managed his team to two automatic promotions from the Championship and become the first manager to keep Burnley in the Premier League for consecutive seasons.

    In addition, he turned the Turf Moor outfit from a side conceding goals for fun to a solid, defensive and unified unit who operate on the motto of ‘take each game as it comes’.

    That attitude changed Burnley’s fortunes in a way that doesn’t often bode well for newly-promoted clubs. Many teams who break into English football’s top flight struggle to keep their nerve and are easily broken down.

    Not so with Burnley. Dyche’s philosophy may have seemed shaky when the Clarets struggled to just a single away win in the 2016-17 season, but he knew the plan. Solidify at home, then build on those foundations next year.

    This campaign, despite losing key players Michael Keane and Andre Gray, Burnley’s record away from home reads W3D2L1 – eight points from five games. This includes victories over Everton, Southampton and last year’s champions Chelsea. There have been draws at Anfield and Wembley.

    Only the increasingly unstoppable Manchester City have taken three points against the Clarets, and even then they scored just three, having ripped other teams apart by five or six.

    Dyche has done this on a budget which is comparatively miniscule, even compared to the teams around them in the table.

    It’s only natural, then, that he is often toward the top of the list when mid-to-lower table clubs sack their managers. Sunderland, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Leicester have all courted him in recent seasons.

    Burnley manager Sean Dyche

    Burnley manager Sean Dyche, the ‘Ginger Mourinho’. (Via Kelvin Stuttard / Flickr)

    Everton are the latest team to pursue the Kettering-born Dyche. They are by far the biggest suitors to tempt him, occupying that strange middle ground between the top six and the remaining thirteen.

    Current Everton caretaker manager David Unsworth has history as an Evertonian, but it does not seem likely he will be given the job long-term – he is too unproven and Everton’s owners seem to have loftier targets in mind.

    Dyche has hovered consistently in the top two to three targets in the betting markets and there is plenty of media coverage backing it up. Jamie Carragher, Ian Wright, Matthew Upson and others have all touted Dyche for the Goodison Park vacancy.

    What is not being said is how big a mistake Dyche would be making to move anywhere right now.

    True, his stock as a manager is at the highest it has ever been, and rightly so. Burnley currently sit seventh in the Premier League table after 11 games and are level on points with both Liverpool and Arsenal. Even if they were to lose at home against struggling Swansea after the international break, they could not drop lower than their current position.

    But this is bizarrely why any move – even to a club as rich historically and financially as Everton – would be a sideways, if not downwards, step for the man the Burnley fans famously dubbed ‘The Ginger Mourinho’.

    Dyche’s success at Burnley is built on an incredibly tight-knit and well-drilled side of players that upon first glance, many would assume to be unworthy of Premier League status. Dyche kept faith in the players who saw Burnley to promotion not once but twice. He has a locker room full of supportive players who would go to the ends of the earth for him.

    At Everton, Dyche would find a disjointed locker room which may prove difficult to control. Their attitudes vary wildly, with expensive megastars like Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson, youngsters who need guidance such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tom Davies, and a host of internationals who are not getting much playing time.

    Euro2012 - England's Wayne Rooney on the ball

    (AFP)

    Many neutrals might think Goodison Park a more attractive destination than Turf Moor. Everton are a so-called ‘big club’ and their new owners are willing to invest in Everton’s future as proved by this season’s £150m outlay on new players.

    It is ironically that figure that should keep Dyche away. Everton’s spending has them in 15th place with only two wins and only 11 points, barely above the relegation zone. Their goal difference is the joint second-worst in the division. The BBC’s Panorama recently investigated Everton and their ownership.

    Burnley, meanwhile, sit on the fringes of the European positions, with Manchester City the only club to have lost fewer games. They are in the middle of their best-ever Premier League season and their best top-flight season since they were a powerhouse in the 1960s and 70s.

    The Clarets are a strange hydra of a team – having lost Michael Keane and Andre Gray, James Tarkowski and Chris Wood have proved more than qualified as replacements. In the wake of Tom Heaton’s injury, 25 year-old Nick Pope has made more saves per game than any other keeper and is being discussed for an England call-up. Their performances cannot be attributed to mere coincidence.

    The argument that Everton are a ‘big club’ and a ‘natural step up’ from small town Burnley does not stand up to serious investigation. The Premier League is a changing, shifting beast and once-mighty giants like Aston Villa are proof that all but the super-elite are immune to the danger of relegation.

    With Everton a club in chaos and Burnley looking more and more at home in the Premier League, Dyche would have to be mad to join the Toffees. He has a job for life at Burnley, and while one day he will inevitably move to a new and different challenge, right now Dyche has nothing at all to lose and everything to gain by staying right where he is at Turf Moor.