Photography by Paul Cooper

Alan Stubbs

Hibernian, 2014-2016

“The players respond to the fans, and the fans respond to the players”

Alan Stubbs started his playing career in a Bolton side that was fortified by an unbreakable team spirit, and went on to experience a similar bond in the Celtic dressing room. He believes there is one team in the Premier League that currently utilises that strength fully. Here, he talks exclusively to The Coaches’ Voice about how Sean Dyche has managed to make the most of a strong team spirit at Burnley FC.

“I think there’s probably only potentially one team right now in the Premier League that has probably got that real togetherness and team spirit. And I would probably say that’s Burnley.

And it’s no coincidence that they would potentially have one of the lowest budgets, so they have to try and utilise or implement a strength that some other teams might not have in order to try and compete on a level playing field.

And Sean Dyche has done fantastic at that. He won’t hide the fact that he is big on respect, desire, teamwork, togetherness – all these attributes that, more or less, do not cost anything.

I think they are values that are in an individual. I don’t think you can give some individuals that. It has to be within that individual, and I think Sean has been very selective in terms of players that he’s bought that would not just fit in, but have an identity with Burnley as a football club.

I think the biggest thing is that the club – they know they can’t compete on a financial scale with the majority of the Premier League. But while they can’t compete in that, they’ve probably excelled in the team spirit.

Team spirit gives you an understanding of defending as a team. I think they’re probably one of the hardest teams to break down in the Premier League. And that’s not because of, ultimately, organisation. That’s because of a desire that the manager’s instilled in the team to not be beat.

I think, also, their home form is crucial to what they do, and I think what Sean’s done very cleverly is that he’s made the fans buy into the philosophy. You know, you go to Burnley and it’s probably one of the most – well, it’s a very intimidating ground to go to.

And they have, I think, a relationship with the fans and the players where they both bounce off each other. The players respond to the fans and the noise they generate, and the fans respond to the players in terms of their effort and their desire that they show on the pitch.”

Alan Stubbs

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