On Friday, I went to watch “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” with my girlfriend at the cinema. If you haven’t seen it yet and don’t care for spoilers, then I can promise that this article will reveal nothing of importance to the film… but I can also promise that that is exactly what a writer would say to someone he desperately wanted to continue reading his work.
So, it’s up to you to see how dangerous you’re feeling, but I should remind you that this is an article about Sean Dyche and not a film review so, unless your idea of ‘too dangerous’ is a man who probably writes weekly letters to his local pharmacy inquiring why they haven’t invented a baked bean flavoured lozenge yet, I’d advise you to carry on reading.
If you’re still with me, both my girlfriend (yes, I’ve mentioned that twice now) and I thought the film was overly long, extremely self-indulgent, at times a little boring, and at others a bit weird. It’s essentially a love letter to old Hollywood that Tarantino has dictated and then left on a 1960s tape recorder for Margot Robbie to transcribe, except she’s only allowed to hold a pen with her feet. I didn’t think it was great. There – that’s all I’m giving away.
The following day, I found myself watching the Premier League’s late kick-off: Burnley vs Liverpool. It finished 3-0 to a very clinical away side, who became the first ever Liverpool team to win 13 consecutive league games in the club’s long, illustrious history, and who will almost certainly be challenging for this season’s league title when May comes around, inevitably churning out results just like that one for the next eight and a half months.
My attention afterwards should have naturally gravitated towards Jürgen Klopp and his record-breaking team, the quality of their finishing and the sturdiness of their defence. Most of all, in my post- “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” mindset, I should have been focusing on the Tarantino-like personality instilled within this great team by possibly the most charismatic manager currently working in world football.
Klopp, whose hipster appearance, sense of self-confidence, fairly manic demeanour and “heavy metal” approach to life are perfectly encapsulated by his team, is basically crying out to be directly compared with Tarantino, whose films emulate many of the same qualities within him.
Yet, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is not the work of a man who could go to Turf Moor on a Saturday evening and grind out a comfortable 3-0 win and, as the final whistle blew, I instead was drawn towards the man standing in the opposite dugout to Klopp.
Sean Dyche is a six-foot-tall, voluntarily bald, former centre-back from Kettering whose voice sounds like he’s swallowed a big bag of rocks that he may or may not end up throwing at you depending on how the conversation goes. He may never have been seen as a visionary in his field as Tarantino has (I’m not even kidding, if you google the phrase “Sean Dyche visionary” it will only show results that are “Missing: visionary”).
He may have entirely contrasting interests, come from a completely different background and look nothing like Tarantino, but the two bizarrely have things in common. You don’t need to have watched “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to know that Tarantino is obsessed with old Hollywood (the title does give it away a bit though). In the same way, Dyche loves a good, old-fashioned, defensively minded 4-4-2.
The 4-4-2 may have been made cool again by Leicester City’s still fairly recent antics, but that isn’t Dyche’s 4-4-2. The old-school and proper way: two banks of four, two strikers over six foot who are hardly ever more than ten metres apart, a bit of aggression, very little flair and absolutely no nonsense.
Dyche’s is a tried and tested formula, much like the Spaghetti-Westerns of the 1960s that Tarantino’s film harkens to, and it works: two years ago it was really just as simple as “None of this fancy European stuff. Let’s knock it long to Sam Vokes, get out of the single market and into the Europa League.”
However, on Saturday Burnley were beaten 3-0. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” also highlights the fallibility of the outdated, formulaic approach, pitting Leonardo DiCaprio’s old world against Margot Robbie’s new one, but the film also glorifies it in a way that makes the new seem completely superfluous without the old – OK, THAT’S all I’m giving away.
Basically, what I got out of the film was that Quentin Tarantino fundamentally believes that teams like Burnley and managers like Sean Dyche are entirely necessary to the Premier League. Tarantino loves the old-fashioned way and Dyche’s style has been around for donkey’s years. Gruff, unapologetic and most of all uncomplicated, it may not be the effervescent approach Tarantino himself would opt for, but it’s the approach of someone who absolutely does not care what anyone else thinks, which I think is about as Tarantino as it gets.
Both Sean Dyche and Quentin Tarantino are unashamedly themselves, and they’re not going to change. Tarantino abides in a world that is completely driven by what people’s faces are doing and yet decides to obsess over their feet; Dyche’s world is one which is absolutely focussed on people’s ability with their feet, but he ruddy loves it when the big lad gets up and uses his head.
They’re going against the grain. You can’t stop them. It’s so commendable.
Today in English football, everybody is trying to be a different version of either Liverpool or Manchester City. You can’t tell me otherwise: at the weekend I saw Rochdale score a stunning Guardiola-esque 16-pass goal against Southend. Sean Dyche is not about that, and neither is Tarantino.
In a world full of shoddy remakes and sequels, it’s nice to know that, despite it being a bit boring at times, there are at least two men who are still doing their own thing.
by Xavier Bird