After 10-and-a-half years in charge, Burnley have parted ways with Sean Dyche.
Original article published 30 August 2022
The manager who oversaw two promotions from the Championship, as well as a six-year stint in the Premier League, has been sacked with the club 4/11 to be relegated.
Though the Clarets may well go down this season, his decade of overachievement at Turf Moor meant he was the Premier League's longest-serving manager, with the club now seeking a replacement.
2013/14 would be Dyche's first full season at Burnley, and having lost hitman Charlie Austin in the summer, they were more fancied for relegation. But Dyche and Burnley proved all the doubters wrong. Sam Vokes and Danny Ings formed a terrific partnership, scoring 41 goals, comfortably securing promotion back to the top-flight.
Their stay was brief, however, being relegated the following season having failed to sufficiently put together a side capable of hanging with the big boys, but despite losing Ings and Kieran Trippier, the Clarets were promoted again at the first time of asking, this time as champions, with new recruit Andre Gray filling in for Ings and firing 23 goals.
Burnley were better prepared for a relegation battle the second time around, with Michael Keane and Ben Mee forming a solid partnership at the back, Tom Heaton solid between the sticks, and Gray and Vokes providing 19 goals between them.
The following season was perhaps Dyche's greatest achievement. After defying the odds to achieve promotion in 2014, Burnley would go a step further in 2018, securing European football.
Stubbornly defying the models - their xGD for the season was actually worse than bottom side West Brom - they recorded a superb 14 wins and 12 draws, all while scoring just 36 goals, to finish in 7th place.
Unfortunately, the European adventure was short-lived. After a pair of two-legged wins over Aberdeen and Basaksehir, Dyche's men fell short of the group stages, losing 4-2 to Olympiacos on aggregate.
It may have been the best thing for the club in the long run. They hadn't really strengthened sufficiently to throw another dozen-plus games, including several trips across Europe, into their fixture list, and a run of one win in 12 in the run-up to Christmas saw the Clarets dragged into a relegation battle.
Dyche, of course, turned things around in the new year. Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood both reached double figures and Burnley would seal a fourth consecutive season in the top-flight.
Such is the stature of the club, Burnley's primary target at the start of every season has been survival, but once more Dyche's side punched above their weight, finishing 10th - just five points off 6th - with an excellent end to the campaign, losing just two of their final 16 games.
It was a season that saw them win at Old Trafford, as well as earn points at home to Tottenham, Arsenal and Leicester and away at Liverpool.
As we'd come to expect, it was built on a solid foundation with Nick Pope in goal behind stalwart Mee and James Tarkowski. Pope and Tarkowski were rewarded with England caps, with Mee perhaps a little unfortunate never to receive a call-up from Gareth Southgate.
2020/21 saw the Clarets find themselves a little too close for comfort to the relegation zone, but a good run through February and March, combined with the poor results of the bottom three, saw them survive for another season.
But their remarkable six-year run in England's top-flight finally looks to be coming to an end this time around.
Despite operating on a comparatively small budget, Dyche has always managed to get the most out of his players. The team must be more than the sum of its parts and he has achieved that admirably across his 10-year stay at Turf Moor.
Across his last six Premier League seasons, Dyche has overseen a net spend of around £10m a year and keeping them so competitive for so long has to be commended.
But ultimately, Dyche-s - and perhaps also Burnley's - time has come. They've been in a relegation battle all season and one by one Brentford, Southampton, Newcastle, Leeds and Everton have all done just enough to probably stay up.
And, despite a superb win against Everton, the defeat to Norwich, when a win would’ve seen them move within a point of the Toffees, was an enormous opportunity that passed the Clarets by.
While Maxwel Cornet has impressed with seven goals, Wood wasn't finding the net as often as usual before his departure to the north east, while replacement Wout Weghorst has managed just one goal since his arrival.
Burnley desperately need a firefighter to save their season; who that may be remains uncertain, but if they can find a manager who does half as well as his predecessor, they'll have done very well.