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Comment: Sean Dyche was the embodiment of Watford as a club
12:14pm Monday 29th October 2012 in Sport
With Sean Dyche set to be named Burnley manager this week, Clarets fans and Watford supporters may be interested in reading deputy sport editor Frank Smith's comment piece which was published in the Watford Observer newspaper following Dyche's departure from Vicarage Road back in July.
It is said that a week is a long time in football, and it is surprising to think that seven days ago Sean Dyche was still the manager of Watford, even if the writing was on the wall for some time before that.
Events have moved on considerably since then, with Dyche’s departure soon followed by Gianfranco Zola’s appointment and all the talk this week has been about the Italian’s press conference on Tuesday evening.
For a lot of supporters, Dyche’s sacking will be old news; particularly for those who use social media and read websites, but the former centre-half’s achievements at Watford should not be overlooked, or not recognised.
The reason for Dyche’s dismissal was made clear by the club’s new regime and the fact they want their own man is understandable, especially when it seems there will be a dramatic change in the way the club operates.
However, Dyche is among a very small group of managers who have been sacked despite exceeding their side’s expectations and he can consider himself extremely unfortunate to be out of work.
This is a man who guided the club to their highest league position, and points tally, in four seasons and a top half finish in the Championship, with one of the smallest budgets in the division. That is no mean feat.
Let’s not forget, the Championship’s best striker during the 2010/11 campaign, Danny Graham, was sold last summer, Watford’s highest assist maker Don Cowie left and the pacy Will Buckley was also out of the door.
There were more than ten new signings made last year but Dyche still managed to mould them into a side which were competitive in almost every game last season.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing during Dyche’s reign and, understandably, there were a lot of concerned supporters when the Hornets were sitting in the relegation zone in October.
Online forums were full of fans calling for Dyche’s head and the pressure was on the first-time manager. Yet he remained calm, remained respectful to the supporters and media when tough questions were being asked, and he turned things around.
The steady progression continued and Dyche was ultimately proved right. Watford finished 11th and their manager had developed a team the supporters were proud of.
By his own admission, Dyche’s Watford were not the finished article and at times the football was not the most attractive, but there are of course flaws in all teams and this was a developing side.
What the Hornets did have though, was real togetherness and a work ethic which was the envy of most managers in the division.
Dyche often spoke of how he tried to implement his values in life on to his team and Watford were a reflection of their manager; they gave their all for the club, were a team you could relate to, and support, and they were honest in their performance.
Dyche spent eight of the last ten years at Watford and he was a true servant to the club.
Some of the ground work had been done by previous managers but Dyche developed the club further and when I would speak to new signings, almost every one would talk about the squad’s incredible morale and the enviable work rate shown by all of the players.
Whilst there was in-fighting behind the scenes in the offices, Dyche sheltered the players and, along with his likeable coaching staff, continued to develop his side.
Making reference to the budget is not just an excuse but Dyche was not one to hide behind mitigating circumstances.
He could have continuously blamed disappointing results on the club’s small budget, the numerous poor refereeing decisions during the course of the season or the departure of their four best attacking players but he didn’t. He got on with the job and was thoroughly good at it.
There was the odd disagreement between the two of us at times but it was not a case of a manager over-reacting or throwing his toys out of the pram – he was fair throughout.
He was respectful of our newspaper, respectful of our readers and respectful of the supporters.
When you travel across the country covering a club, you come across all kinds of managers with different personalities. Often you sit listening to a press conference knowing the man speaking is trying to hide the shortcomings of his side, or himself, by attempting to manipulate the media.
That was never the case with Dyche. He was honest with his views, never tried to hide behind excuses and I can count on one hand the amount of times I disagreed with his assessment of a match.
Dyche worked his way up the ranks at Watford and was an embodiment of what is great about the club.
I would like to use this article to say, Sean, it was an absolute pleasure working alongside you during the last 12 months. I am certain I am not alone when I say thank you for the superb job you did at Watford and I wish you every success in the future.