Burnley sack Dyche and three assistants with eight games to go
Written by Simon Austin — April 15, 2022
BURNLEY have sacked manager Sean Dyche and his assistants Ian Woan, Steve Stone and Billy Mercer with eight games of the Premier League season remaining.
Dyche, 50, was the longest-serving manager in the Premier League, having been at the helm for almost a decade. However, with the team 18th in the table and four points from safety, chairman Alan Pace said: “We feel a change is needed to give the squad the best possible chance of retaining its Premier League status.”
A quartet have been put in charge of the team for the game at West Ham on Sunday:
- Paul Jenkins: Burnley’s Academy Director since September 2021, having previously been Technical Director to owner ALK Capital since their leveraged buy-out of the club in December 2020. Worked for 23 years at Middlesbrough’s Academy, latterly as Under-21s Head Coach, before joining ALK and Burnley.
- Connor King: The 23-year-old was appointed transition goalkeeper coach, responsible for aiding the passage of players from Academy to first team, in August 2021. Had previously worked full-time in the Academy since March 2020.
- Mike Jackson: Pro Licence coach who has been U23s lead since June 2021. Previously worked for Tranmere for four years, as assistant, and then, for four months, as manager.
- Ben Mee: The club captain, 32, has been with the club since summer of 2011. Has played most of his professional career under Dyche. Holder of the Uefa B Licence.
Pace said the club were in the process of appointing a permanent replacement for Dyche and that an announcement would be made “in due course.”
When Dyche joined Burnley, in October 2012, they were 14th in the Championship. He later recalled: “At the very first board meeting I attended, I asked where the Premier League money had gone from that season [2009/10].
“They said: ‘What do you mean?’ I told them that I had played at Turf Moor loads of times and the changing rooms were still the same.
“They didn’t have a training ground, really. Yet the money had been spent. I told them: ‘You can’t do that again.’ There had to be a bigger picture, a bigger future than that.”
The transformation since then has been astounding. Where once the training pitches at Gawthorpe Hall were prone to flooding when the River Calder rose, and the media were hosted in an old groundsman’s bungalow, the club now have a £10.6m state-of-the-art training centre.
Their Academy has risen from Category Three to One status, with productivity increasing significantly too. The club ranked 69th in TGG’s 2017/18 Academy Productivity Rankings, but had climbed to 50th in 2020/21. TGG visited Burnley's Academy in May 2019 for a podcast, which you can listen to below.
Scouting has also been expanded, as has performance and medical provision. Of course not all of this was down to Dyche, but he was the person who decided the club should invest in infrastructure and staffing and not just player wages and transfer fees.
The improvement on the pitch has also been dramatic, with the club now in their sixth consecutive season in the Premier League.
In 2018/19 they finished seventh in the table, their best top-flight finish since 1974, and secured European football for the first time in 51 years. They achieved another top-10 finish the following season.
Along with Dyche, the following quartet of assistants have also left the club:
- Ian Woan: Played alongside Dyche in the Nottingham Forest youth team and was his assistant at Watford before moving with him to Burnley in 2012. Shared a flat with Dyche in Whalley near Clitheroe.
- Steve Stone: Also played in the Forest youth team alongside Dyche and Woan. Moved up from U23s boss to first-team coach in July 2021.
- Billy Mercer: Goalkeeper coach at the club since 2010, when he joined under Brian Laws. In 2021, his former assistant Fabian Otte said: “Billy Mercer is the one person that had most impact on me. Without him, the goalkeeping group and department at Burnley would not run as successfully as it has for many years now.” Helped to develop two England keepers - Tom Heaton and Nick Pope - during his time at the club.
The sackings mean ALK Capital have now had an almost complete clear-out of the staff they inherited in December 2020:
- Manager: Sean Dyche
- Assistant: Ian Woan
- Goalkeeper coaches: Billy Mercer and Fabian Otte
- First-team coaches: Steve Stone and Tony Loughlan
- Technical Director: Mike Rigg
- Academy Manager: Jon Pepper
- Media Manager: Darren Bentley
- Sport scientist: Ronan Kavanagh
- S&C coach: Tom Short