The Boss Files: Sean Dyche

By: Watford FC Staff

To help celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Watford’s move to Vicarage Road, Daily Mirror sports writer Mike Walters recalls his encounters with those who have occupied the Hornets’ hotseat.

To nobody’s surprise, the gathering of the clan on a Saturday lunchtime was sombre.

The previous night, my mother had passed away in a hospice and about 20 of us had gravitated to her house to start planning the funeral and begin sifting through the estate.

Although the numbness was never going to evaporate when the grief was still so raw, there was brief respite from the melancholy when the football results came through - and at the sixth time of asking, Watford had broken their duck in the league, John Eustace and Mark Yeates coming up trumps with the goals in a 2-0 win at Reading.

It was also Sean Dyche’s first league win as a manager, and as a family we were grateful for the shaft of light amid the gloom.

Dyche, accepting what looked like a hospital pass of a dwindling budget, player sales and no parachute money, did an outstanding job in the 2011/12 season, guiding the Hornets to 11th in the Championship when a relegation battle had looked their likeliest fate.

On paper, his squad looked gossamer-thin, and the £3 million sale of coveted striker Marvin Sordell to Bolton on deadline day in January could have proved ruinous.

But Dyche - never afraid of bumps in the road which must have looked like the Himalayas, especially in the early weeks of his reign - maximised his resources superbly, and by the end of the campaign he had transformed Troy Deeney from expensive bit-part to the leader of his attack.

In the undeserved FA Cup defeat by Tottenham, he made Eustace look like Pirlo and his faith in teenager Sean Murray was rewarded by seven goals in 17 starts.

It was no reflection on Dyche’s competence when the Hornets parted company with him after one season, ushering in a new era with Gianfranco Zola installed as Head Coach.

And as anyone who has seen him on stage at the Palace Theatre on Tales From The Vicarage nights will attest, his innate sense of humour is blessed with delicious comic timing.

He told the famous story of former Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd arranging the seats at a team meeting in the configuration of a bus and asking his players, “I’m taking this bus to the Premiership - who’s coming with me?”

Dyche said: “All the players looked at each other, wondering what was going on, except Lloyd [Doyley] - he wanted to buy a ticket off the conductor.”

Maybe it’s because I was the only national newspaper journalist who popped in to Vicarage Road when he was doing his first media interviews as Watford manager - I was on the way to Wimbledon, where British sweetheart Laura Robson lost to former world No.1 Maria Sharapova later - that we’ve always got along well.

But on rare excursions along the M65 to Burnley, where the Barnfield training complex is a monument to his success, the now-Everton manager was always generous with his time and candour as well.

And this scribbler of notes was not the slightest bit surprised that Dyche went on to become Clarets royalty, including the pub named after him, at Turf Moor.

After nine-and-a-half years, including two promotions and taking Burnley into Europe, it would not be trolling to suggest he deserved to leave on his own terms in 2022.

In this parish, we have our own reasons to be thankful for Sean Dyche’s endeavours - not least a grieving family to whom his first win as a manager brought timely solace.

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