Relegation-threatened Burnley shocked the world of football by firing long serving manager Sean Dyche with just eight games to go on his contract. Why did they do it?
It was no secret that Burnley boss Sean Dyche was under pressure.Â
His side were facing the real prospect of relegation to the Championship after winning just four games this season, and losing 14.
But it was still a shock when Burnley decided to sack him two days before they were due to face West Ham on Easter Sunday.
â€śDyche of course the longest serving manager in the Premier League, having been in charge of the Clarets for nine and a half years. Heâ€™ll go down as one of the most successful in the clubâ€™s history, this season they are really struggling in the relegation zone but he has seen a side promoted twice from the Championship and heâ€™s achieved two top-half Premier League finishes and qualified for Europe for the first time in 51 years.â€ťSky Sports News
Many argued that Sean Dyche had earned the right to see the season through to its conclusion.Â
They said that if Burnley did go down, he has proven experience in getting them back up to the top flight.
And even if Burnleyâ€™s fans were disgruntled with current form, the majority were loyal to Sean Dyche when news of his sacking broke.
â€śFlabbergasted. Again, just absolutely shocked. Thereâ€™s no need for it right now. Itâ€™s the wrong time to sack him. Itâ€™s the wrong time.â€ť
â€śAbsolutely gutted to be honest with you. I think, you know, what heâ€™s done for the club in terms of taking us to Europeâ€¦into the Premier League for seven seasons. Iâ€™m just on my way down to London for the weekend and to watch the game on Sunday and Iâ€™m not sure what the reaction will be, but I suspect thereâ€™ll be a lot of support for Dyche. Unless theyâ€™ve got a clear plan on who theyâ€™re bringing in, and that personâ€™s of a higher calibre, then it makes absolutely no sense to me.â€ťtalkSPORT
Sean Dyche has been on a long journey with Burnley supporters. Thereâ€™s even a pub in the town called the Royal Dyche. The owners have confirmed that the name will remain.Â
In many ways, the no-nonsense boss seemed like a perfect fit for the club. Theyâ€™ve spent a lot of time in the lower leagues throughout their history, and are one of only five teams to have won all four professional divisions of English football.Â
â€śWeâ€™re Burnley and our identity is about being pragmatic and about being stoic. People say itâ€™s not the best football to watch but weâ€™re a Premier League club and weâ€™re punching above our weightâ€¦â€ťTalksport
So why was Sean Dyche booted out?
One man who hasnâ€™t been on the Sean Dyche journey from the start is owner Alan Pace, but when he took over the club 18 months ago he seemed supportive.
â€śWeâ€™ve spent a lot of time lookingâ€¦at football and at football clubs and what attracted us specifically to Burnley had a lot to do with the passion of the fans, the quality of the club and the way that it had been managed, the longevity of the coaching staff and the ability for us to see a path to growth.â€ťBurnley Football Club
In September last year, Sean Dyche even signed a new contract with the club, one that would take him to the end of the 2025 season.
And two months later Alan Pace told the Daily Express that he was committed to keeping him in charge, regardless of relegation.
So far then, we donâ€™t have many clues about why Sean Dyche was sacked.
Rumours in the press have suggested the manager and the owner had â€śdiffering visionsâ€ť about player recruitment.
Alan Pace wanted to bring in younger, foreign players and even had his own head of recruitment called Mike Smith.Â
Sean Dyche wanted dependable, more experienced recruits â€“ a formula that had worked for him in the past.
Another theory is that itâ€™s down to player power.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t an entire surprise to the players. They were broadly supportive of it.â€ťNBC Sports
Reports like that have suggested that the Burnley players thought Sean Dycheâ€™s methods had gone stale. That they were no longer working.Â
Whatever the reason, sacking such a long-term manager with just eight games to go is an unusual move.Â
And perhaps â€“ as an owner thatâ€™s new to football â€“ Alan Pace doesnâ€™t realise what a risk it is. Because if Burnley go down, fans and pundits will all be asking one question.
Could Sean Dyche have saved them?
Todayâ€™s story was written by Chloe Beresford and mixed by Imy Harper.