Spireites legend Sean Dyche has sympathy with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp over fixture congestion as he recalls how Chesterfield's 96/97 season fell apart

Spireites legend Sean Dyche fully understands Liverpool's fixture congestion frustrations as he recalls how Chesterfield's 1996/97 season fell apart due to the number of games they had to play in a short space of time.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 10:29 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 10:30 am
Sean Dyche celebrates his 1997 FA Cup semi-final goal against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford. Picture: Clive Brunskill /Allsport

The Reds play their Carabao Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa on December 17 and, quite incredibly, their Club World Cup semi-final in Qatar the following day. It means boss Jurgen Klopp will be forced to field two different team to ensure that both matches go ahead.

Dyche, now manager of Premier League Burnley, played for the Spireites between 1990 and 1997 and made more than 230 appearances for the club.

He famously slammed home a penalty to put third-tier Chesterfield 2-0 up against Premier League Middlesbrough in the 1997 FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford which eventually ended 3-3 after extra-time in what was an incredible game.

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But with Chesterfield pushing for the Second Division play-offs at the time, a replay was the last thing they needed in what was already a packed schedule.

As we know, the Spireites lost to Boro in the replay and failed to make the play-offs.

“FA Cup semi-final year, add in games called off at Christmas, in the last two weeks we played Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday," Dyche told the Burnley Express.

“Bear in mind we were pushing for promotion, because the FA wouldn’t extend the season for us.

“We were dead, we fell out of the play off zone with three games to go, we just couldn’t do it.

“We played Bristol City away, lost 2-0, and Jamie Hewitt slept all the way down, I remember thinking ‘you must be knackered!’

“Its not easy sleeping on a bus, obviously we didn’t have hotels and all that, he slept all the way.”

The German initially ruled out fielding two different teams but after a new date could not be found because of their already hectic schedule it was decided there was no alternative.

Dyche added: “Joking apart about my tales of woe from Chesterfield, it’s a whole different level now, the physical and mental demands, the stress and pressure of that pinnacle level I can only imagine.

“I think there’s a lot on it, so I totally understand when the managers get frustrated.

“Your instinct is to try and win everything so you get caught up in your successes.

“I don’t know what the answer is, I’ve been in those meetings, and you say ‘can we make the season a week longer, two weeks’, but you’ve got internationals...back in the day, I remember Teddy Sheringham, in four years, the maximum amount of time he had off was two and a half weeks, and on year five, he had a bad season, meltdown, his body couldn’t take it.

“I do feel for them, it’s really hard on the super powers who are successful, but what do you do?"