LIVE: OTB Breakfast

07:30 AM-10:00 AM

LIVE: OTB Breakfast

'A sign of a good team, is when they mirror their manager.' | Stephen Ward on The Football Show

Sean Dyche perennially overachieved at Burnley keeping them in the Premier League since getting t...

'A sign of a good team, is whe...

'A sign of a good team, is when they mirror their manager.' | Stephen Ward on The Football Show

Sean Dyche perennially overachieved at Burnley keeping them in the Premier League since getting them promoted for the second time in 2015. 

Despite a minimal budget, Dyche managed to guide Burnley into Europe for the first time in over half a century. 

Stephen Ward played over 100 times for the Clarets under Dyche and joined Nathan Murphy on The Football Show  on Thursday evening. 

“He (Dyche) never had any complaints about his managerial style, because what he was doing was working for us. He believed in his philosophy and got the lads on board. We believed in what he was doing,” said Ward.

Ward’s first season at the Lancashire club coincided with relegation back down to the championship. 

“I remember the last game of the season away to Aston Villa, we were already relegated. He didn’t have any tactics on the board, he just stood up in front of us and said; "Listen this summer you’re going to have agents and people ringing you telling you I’ve got you a move here, there and everywhere. But if you want to be part of this journey, I will get this club straight back to the Premier League, if you want to be back in the Premier League, stick with us." I remember it didn’t even feel like we had been relegated,” recalled Ward. 

The following season Burnley returned to the top tier with a club record 93 points and a 23-match unbeaten run.

The majority of Ward’s career was spent under both Dyche and Mick McCarthy. The Dubliner notched over 300 games for both Wolves and Burnley.

“The most honest people I’ve met in football were Mick McCarthy who I had at Wolves and Sean Dyche who I had at Burnley,” said Ward. 

“The two of them were very similar characters, they came from similar eras but you knew exactly what you were going to get from them. You always knew exactly what they wanted from you when you stepped on that field.”

Ward made the move from Bohemians to McCarthy’s Wolves’ side after impressing in a pre-season friendly. McCarthy later claimed that Ward was one of his best ever signings.

“You also knew once you gave everything on that pitch, whether you had a good game or not if you tried to perform as they wanted you to perform or do what they asked you to do, you knew you had a good chance of staying in the team.”

“I think if you asked any player what they want, the most important thing in the world is that they want honesty and that's what you got from them two. They were unbelievable at it, they got two great dressing rooms together,” said Ward.

At both Wolves and Burnley, being solid at the back was the key to success. Both sides that Ward featured at left-back in gave little away and were built on good organisation. Strong characters were needed in the dressing room.

“You wouldn’t have got away with being a bad character in a Sean Dyche or Mick McCarthy dressing room. They led the way in terms of how they conducted themselves and how they wanted the players to play.”

“I always think that the sign of a good team is when they mirror their manager and how they are as a person and I think both of those teams really mirrored the teams of both managers.”

Now teams are often criticised for implementing a low block. Current Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny was quoted as saying its a slow death if you don’t take an attacking initiative in the game and just look to defend your 18-yard-box. Everton and Villarreal were the latest teams to come under the spotlight for a perceived negative style of football.

“As a defender I always enjoyed how he played. You always had plenty of protection, you had a team that worked incredibly hard in front of you. As a defender you want to defend, you just want to keep the ball out of your net," said Ward.

Ward earned 50 caps for his country and appeared at two major tournaments. He’s now coaching in the Burton Albion youth set-up. A fantastic servant to both club and country.

Football on Off The Ball brought to you by Sky. All the football you love in one place across Sky Sports, BT Sport & Premier Sports.

Download the brand new OTB Sports App in the Play Store & App Store right now! We've got you covered!

Subscribe to OTB Sports's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.

Read more about

Bohemians Burnley Championship Europe Euros Ireland Mick McCarthy Sean Dyche Stephen Kenny Wolves