Burnley FC boss: ‘elitism’ doesn’t always bring out best in players

Burnley's Manager Sean Dyche in his 100th game in charge ''Photographer Dave Howarth/CameraSport''Football
Burnley's Manager Sean Dyche in his 100th game in charge ''Photographer Dave Howarth/CameraSport''Football
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Next week, England’s technical director of football Dan Ashworth will produce a presentation of the “England DNA” - a blueprint for all the Three Lions’ international teams.

And Clarets boss Sean Dyche feels Danny Ings and Charlie Austin - who are set to face off at Loftus Road tomorrow - are good examples that the current way of thinking on youth development is not necessarily working.

Ings, a current England Under 21 international, was released by Southampton’s academy as a youngster, and four years ago was on loan at non-league Dorchester Town from Bournemouth.

Austin, after being let go by Reading, combined life as a brickie with firing in the goals lower down the pyramid with the likes of Poole Town, before getting his break at Swindon Town.

Both are now scoring goals in the Premier League and are tipped to ultimately make Roy Hodgson’s full England squad if they maintain their form.

Dyche said: “People are mentioning about Charlie and Danny in terms of England selection, well look at their backgrounds.

“It’s fair to say this elitist approach doesn’t guarantee an elite outcome. In fact, it can take it away.

“This big contract comes along at 16, which is bizarre to me. They haven’t kicked a ball but they have a contract that could sort them out financially for a good few years.

“There’s got to be some governing system of that, whether it’s a trust fund or something that keeps them on the journey of being a footballer. Not about all the pizzazz and nonsense that goes with it.

“It should be looked at for all the powerful clubs but also the not-so-powerful ones.

“When you get this elitist group, sometimes the rawness of a player is lost and there needs to be more balance in our system to make sure its maintained.

“A lot of that through the academy system is sometimes lost.”

He explained: “Most people think I mean scruffy kids playing street football. Some performers have that natural edge and it takes them to where they want to go but some of that elitist thinking in academies is so elite the rawness is softened.

“They get treated unbelievable well. Some of it farcically well. You get a 14-year-old needing a rub before training. I can’t accept that!

“I spoke to an eight-year-old who told me he had done his hamstring. I said, ‘I very much doubt you know where your hamstring is. Now go out there and get running.’

“People might say it’s an archaic view but I think the moral fibre of football I as relevant now as its ever been.

“We know they’re going to get enhanced coaching and better facilities but you can’t get so drunk on that that you forget about the passion, desire and will. Some will gave the naturally but some you can put in an environment that suggest you’d better have that or else you’ll disappear.

“I had that. I left Nottingham Forest for Chesterfield and when you’ve got a jumper on to train in that’s a shocker. Then I had to wash it to have it ready for training the next day.

“I don’t see why Chelsea can only play other Premier League academies. Why can’t they play Leyton Orient or Wycombe, just to get it a flavour as all those kids aren’t going to be elite performers but they need to know how to win games in different fashions.”

But Dyche knows there is no magic formula for producing top players for the national side: “You can’t guarantee that Charlie gets his hunger from being a brickie. Frank Lampard I think went to a private school and lived a different life than most, it doesn’t look like he lacks desire to me.

“There’s not a stereotypical perfect view of how the journey but some of it has been overthought and the elitist side of it has getting to a level where you’re creating these strange footballers who think they’ve done something because of their contract and the way they’re being treated and they might not have played a single game – that’s bizarre.

“That desire has to be there throughout that journey.”

Austin, of course, was a prolific striker with Burnley, spending six months under Dyche before a £4m switch to QPR, and, he is now the joint-top English goalscorer in the Premier League.

Asked if he had no doubts about him scoring at this level, Dyche admitted: “There’s always a doubt whenever a player steps up and Charlie would have had his own. The fact he’s scoring goals makes him feel more confident about it. Now Ingsy’s scoring goals and people think he’ll score every week, it’s mind games.

“You couldn’t guarantee Charlie will get goals at the next level as players can hit ceilings. But it’s the players that keep going who are the ones that can break those ceilings.

“So far he’s done that but it is a so far story for Charlie as its his first season in the Premier League. The real marker to be considered a real Premier League player and above is season after season after season.

“If you look at the big goalscorers, they do it year in, year out. Charlie and Ingsy are becoming one of them but their journey is still quite young to be regarded as a mainstay Premier League striker.”

Could Austin partner Ings for England? Dyche added: “Who knows? There have been similar stories. There was a time when you wouldn’t have thought Kevin Davies would’ve broken in there so late. Lambert has broken in there late, so it’s changing. It’s about form and player availability can come into it too.

“You’ve got an enhanced chance if the numbers aren’t so great. When I think back to when I was playing, the country could debate a massive amount of players over who’d play for England. Look at it now and its more or less the top players in the Premier League, so the manager has a smaller group, which enhances the chance if you’re form is good to get in there.

“But it all depends on Roy Hodgson. That’s his job and it depends on what he thinks.”