Tupac Shakur was as much a poet as he was a rapper. Through various mediums, hip-hop's most iconic figure articulated the flaws of an unforgiving society ostracising a criminal and the struggle to penetrate the mainstream.
He utilised what was available to him in order to create angry, effective bars that succeeded in their goal. There is a magnificent interview from 1994 that still resonates with a huge amount of black America, in which he articulates where his philosophy comes from:
It was precisely what hip-hop should be; utilising what was available to him in order to lyrically express his thoughts on society and life in general. He maximised his resources in order to compete on a global scale.
In a ludicrous sense, it's the same process that Sean Dyche represents at Burnley Football Club.
The comparison is in jest but the concept is genuine. Objectively, there is no logical way Burnley's squad should be in the top four. They are over-performing in almost every variable. Sean Dyche is a product of his environment extracting every possible inch available out of diligent but limited players.
Dyche famously parroted the English manager mantra a few years ago, arguing they are members of an unappreciated and a misunderstood class discriminated against:
The media could sometimes pay a little more respect to English managers who are doing great jobs at different clubs at varying levels. I think sometimes there’s not the right balance…if I had players running round a pitch it would be seen as a bit archaic and dinosaur-like. But if a big manager comes in and does it it’s deemed as toughening the environment and building a culture.
The idea of a bias against English managers is, of course, demonstrably nonsense.
The availability of jobs for Alan Pardew, David Moyes, Sam Allardyce, Tony Pulis and co. suggest that hypothesis is false. Despite this, as an individual case, Dyche may have the components of a point.
His Burnley are fourth in the league with the fourth lowest wage budget. He unexpectedly brought them up in 2014 only to be relegated in 2015. The following season they came back up again and have been favourites to be relegated before the last two campaigns.
Dyche is not actually like Tupac. It's not known if he is a fan of G-funk (it's unlikely), or even a music supporter at all. His true similarity is utilising a style initially perceived as unattractive yet brutally effective.
The likelihood is that at this stage you are painfully aware of the fact Burnley have successfully blocked more shots than any other team. It's a stat trodden out with incommodious regularity.
There is more to Dyche's gameplan than that. The team with the most successful offside trap, ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal, are Burnley with 60. They were the leading team in that regard last season too. They are also second in clean sheets, to Manchester United and have the least big chances missed, with only six.
Burnley are 4th. pic.twitter.com/zJVM1rbAPE
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) December 12, 2017
Dyche has created the second most organised side in the league, after Manchester City. It is telling that one of Dyche's admirers this year was City boss Guardiola:
They deserve a lot of credit. They were in the Championship and then Premier League. A lot of respect for what they have done. They had a lot of problems last season to win away, but this season they have taken points at Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton.
They are masters at attacking the channel. They always defend a lot of people in the box. They are physically strong. We have to play quick, take advantage.
Throughout his career, Dyche has overperformed. He took over a Watford team widely tipped to be relegated from the Championship and delivered an 11th place finish. At the start of this season, he was afforded a minimal budget as much of the clubs resources had been devoted to resolving the flooding problem at Turf Moor training ground.
When eyeing a possible break into a highly exclusive top four, Dyche utilised his circumstances to deliver that.
He watched as players opted for Championship clubs over his own, such was the minimal wage budget Burnley could afford to offer. Instead, he fixated on opting for clubs totally in line with his brand.
In order to do this, Dyche rings up managers prior to signing a player to request a face-to-face meet with the individual. He stresses positive influences and hunts out the negative ones. As he explains in Michael Calvin's book, 'Living on the Volcano' there are "assassins and terrorists." Terrorists have no place in Dyche's squad.
Tupac was not concerned with flow. His focus was on making lyrics forceful, carrying power with his delivery and delivering a clear message.
With Dyche it is also a prioritisation of mechanical areas. A highly structured set-piece, offensively and defensively. In order to penetrate the top four, Dyche dictates the energy of his team and picks players capable of implementing it.
Before he took the job, Burnley conceded 29 goals in 13 league games. The only avenue to progress was a defensive improvement, thus he persued that.
The unfortunate reality for Burnley is that the likelihood is a regression to the mean looms inevitably ahead. But for now, Dyche can bask in the glory of finally overcoming the naysayers he highlighted in that prementioned interview from 2016:
They questioned me for playing a 4-4-2 and then everyone played it last year and it was ‘amazing Claudio Ranieri, amazing, tactical genius.
Antonio Conte came in at Chelsea and he got commended for bringing a hard, fast, new leadership to Chelsea, which involved doing 800metre runs, 400m runs and 200m runs. Come to my training and see Sean Dyche doing that and you’d say ‘dinosaur, a young English dinosaur manager, hasn’t got a clue’.
Or, as Tupac elegantly summarised:
It was my only wish to rise
above these jealous coward motherfuckers I despise.