Two of the brightest and most valued English managers will share a touchline at the Vitality Stadium tomorrow, according to Clarets defender Ben Mee.
The 29-year-old centre back has played under both Sean Dyche and AFC Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe during his time at Turf Moor and is greatly appreciative for the impact they’ve had on his career.
Mee was one of the first players through the door in the summer of 2011 ahead of Howe’s first full season in charge at Burnley, arriving on loan from Manchester City just weeks before being joined by Kieran Trippier.
The defender, who made his move a permanent one in January 2012, made 44 appearances for the Cherries chief until a 4-3 loss to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the Championship prompted a return to Dorset.
“We had a fantastic season last year to finish seventh and they’re doing really well this season,” said Mee.
“They’re two top English managers.
“They’ve contributed massively. They both play different styles of football but I don’t think there’s a right way to play football. It’s however you perceive it. I’m really grateful to them both.
“I’ve been with the gaffer here a lot longer than with Eddie. He was building something at the time with young lads and we perhaps didn’t have as long as he wanted in developing the young team he had. I’ve spent a lot more time with the gaffer here and played a lot more games for him. I’m 100% grateful to Eddie for bringing me here. It was a good move for me, I’ve enjoyed myself and I’m still enjoying myself.”
Saturday’s 2-0 triumph over Wolves marked Dyche’s 300th game in charge of the Clarets since becoming Howe’s successor almost six-and-a-half years ago.
In a quirk of fate the result provided many parallels to Dyche’s first game at the helm where goals from Martin Paterson and Charlie Austin had secured an identical scoreline against the same opposition.
And Mee was the only surviving member from that matchday squad on November 3rd, 2012, to feature in the most recent fixture.
“It’s funny how it works out and it was nice to get the win for his 300th game,” said Mee, who has played 237 times for Dyche. “We’ll celebrate that but we’re looking forward to the next game now.
“It moves on and it’s changed a lot at the club. It’s a fantastic testament to what’s been going on here for the last 300 games.
“It’s nice. I’ve been here for a long time and I feel comfortable here. You get a lot of confidence from that. I’ve played more than 200 league games with him and there’s more to come, definitely.”
The trip to the South Coast marks the start of a crucial week for the Clarets, who effectively face a shoot-out for Premier League survival at home to Cardiff City on April 13th.
After opening up a five-point cushion over the Bluebirds, Mee said: “The next two games are massive. We go to Bournemouth with a bit of confidence now, belief and we can play with a bit more freedom. It takes that pressure off us. Then there’s a massive game back here after that.
“We’ve got two big games coming up and that will take us in to the tough final four. It’s tough but we’re full of confidence.”