HATS off to Sean Dyche – I didn’t think his Burnley side would be good enough to beat QPR last weekend. In the event, they were far better than I ever envisaged and fully deserved the 2-0 win that put them clear at the top of the Championship.
I’m delighted for Sean, because he really is one of the hardest-working managers outside the Premiership.
But I’m sure even he will admit he didn’t anticipate the fabulous partnership that strikers Danny Ings and Sam Vokes have struck up. They’ve got 16 goals between them and look unstoppable.
When two strikers gel like that, it’s every manager’s dream. And the funny thing is, I bet they won’t have worked too hard on it.
The best partnerships are always the ones that just click because two players instinctively understand each other. It’s almost accidental. All you can do is encourage it and enjoy it.
Truth be told, I always struggled with strikers. When I look back over my career, it’s a department I never quite mastered.
Apart from Ronnie Jepson and Andy Booth for a season at Huddersfield, I couldn’t tell you a really prolific partnership, and that’s going back to when I first started with Gainsborough and Burton.
The nearest I came to anything like this was probably David Regis and Kevin Bartlett at Notts County. They were about as formidable as I ever had.
That said, I loved having Heidar Helguson with Adel Taarabt in the hole at QPR. It wasn’t a conventional partnership, but the pair of them gave you a mixture of everything, especially with the pace we had in wide areas.
Not that Ings and Vokes need any help. They can make goals all on their own. The confidence of those two strikers has lifted everybody – I’d say the whole team has got an extra 25 per cent.
All of a sudden, Sean’s lads are playing with so much confidence. They just can’t see themselves losing.
And that isn’t important only on the pitch. It transmits to the crowd, it helps you influence referees, it has everybody round the club smiling – you name it.
I bet Sean wishes his strike pair didn’t have to train. Every tackle he’ll be wincing. When he’s refereeing in training, he’ll be screaming ‘Don’t tackle’, or words to that effect.
You just dread it. It’s the same in the game when they go down injured. You’re sweating on the sidelines just praying that the physio comes back and says ‘They’re Ok, gaffer’.
Because when you’re doing well with a small squad, it’s sod’s law that your best player will get injured.
Burnley will hit a bad period – every team does – but the points they’ve got in the bag now will help them through it.
UWE SAILS AWAY FROM THE ROCKS WITH BEES
WELL done Uwe Rosler at Brentford. The Bees have had a rocky start, but last weekend’s win against Shrewsbury was their third on the bounce and shows they’ve shaken off the disappointment from last season.
The way they missed out on promotion from League One – missing a last-minute penalty then conceding with the final kick of the season – must have been crippling.
I can’t remember a more heart-breaking way to end a season, especially given the way they’d dominated for so much of the year.
To then reach the play-off final and lose to Yeovil must have been doubly soul-destroying.
Against that backdrop, it wasn’t at all unexpected that they started this season poorly. But it’s great that Uwe’s turned it round so quickly.
He will have learned so much about his players – and himself – from that experience, and about the impact big defeats have.
It must have felt awful but what happened last April will stand him in good stead for the rest of his career.
I MUST have spoken to between ten and 15 journalists this week, all asking me about going to Crystal Palace.
And I’ll tell you the same thing I told all of them: No Comment
In a situation like this, you can’t win. If you say yes, it’s a story. And if you say no it’s a story. So, for once in my life, I’m keeping my mouth shut.
The only lead I’m giving you is this: don’t be surprised if I don’t take over. I’m very much enjoying my media work, but I can’t stop people chucking my name in hats.
I’ve also been mentioned with Birmingham these last few weeks, as a director of football if Gianni Palladini buys the club.
I honestly don’t know what’s happening there. I do know Gianni well from my QPR days and if he did buy the club it would be great for the fans.
He’d give everything to make them successful, put a good side on the pitch and have a laugh along the way.
But it doesn’t look like anything is moving in that direction right now, so I’m afraid Blues fans will have to suffer a while yet.
TOP PRO RONNIE IS GOOD CALL
GOOD to see my old coach from Leeds, Ronnie Jepson, get a crack at Bury. It’s only until January but it’s a great opportunity for him.
Under Kevin Blackwell they were playing well without scoring, so Ronnie’s got a good base to build on. And he got a great win last week at Wycombe.
It won’t be surprising if results do pick up because I think he’s got a good future in management. Not only is he a good coach, he’s a good judge of people.
Ronnie played for me at Huddersfield and got us through to the play-off semi-finals in ’95 with a fantastic performance. He was a top pro.
He was a big favourite at Exeter, where I got him from, and Huddersfield. Fans always liked him because he gave 100 per cent. As a manager, he’ll be exactly the same.