Sean Dyche: The key tasks for new Everton manager

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Sean Dyche
Everton had eight different permanent managers during Sean Dyche’s 10-year stay at Burnley

Everton’s new manager Sean Dyche will start his reign with the visit of Premier League leaders Arsenal to Goodison Park next Saturday.

It is fitting that Dyche begins the Everton recovery process with the season’s toughest task, because trying to beat an Arsenal team that have lost only once in the league this season will be a swift and sharp reminder of just what a formidable task he has taken on.

Everton lie 19th in the Premier League with just three wins and 15 points from 20 games, while there is dysfunction and toxicity off the field with fans protesting against owner Farhad Moshiri as well as demanding the removal of the club’s board.

Dyche’s in-tray will be overflowing – so what are the key tasks facing the latest incumbent of the Everton manager’s office?

Dyche must unite ‘broken’ Everton

While Dyche’s first priority will be results on the pitch, part of achieving that will be trying to be the front man and strong personality who can somehow bring unity to a club where rebellion is in the air, with supporters demanding changes amid another season of struggle.

Everton’s support, in large part, remained supportive of Dyche’s predecessor Frank Lampard, reserving their fury for owner Moshiri and the club’s board of directors, particularly chairman Bill Kenwright and chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale.

The board, which also includes former playing legend Graeme Sharp and finance director Grant Ingles, announced they were staying away from Everton’s last home game against Southampton on security advice, although large-scale fan protests still went ahead.

They were in attendance for Lampard’s last game, a 2-0 defeat at West Ham. Whether they return against Arsenal remains to be seen, although it would be surreal even by Everton standards if the board were not at a new manager’s first game in charge.

Dyche’s powerful character will help. He talks the sort of plain, realistic language that Everton’s fans can relate to. No delusion, hyperbole or romantic notions.

Engineering this change in mood will be crucial as Everton fight for Premier League survival.

Where will Dyche find goals?

Dyche inherits an Everton team with many faults, but chief among them is a chronic inability to score goals, with just 15 in the Premier League this season. Only Wolves have an inferior record.

Everton failed to replace Brazil forward and talisman Richarlison following his £60m move to Tottenham, while the gamble on Dominic Calvert-Lewin staying fit has failed. Neal Maupay arrived from Brighton for £12m but has made little impact.

Dyche will have to fix that problem in a hurry if Everton are to have any chance of pulling out of trouble. Time is running out before the close of the January transfer window.

Damarai Gray
Winger Damarai Gray is Everton’s top goalscorer this season with five goals in all competitions

And he will have that familiar feeling of working within strict limitations. Everton will not have big money to spend as they work within the restrictions of Financial Fair Play after a largely wasteful £500m-plus transfer spending spree.

While Lampard was still in charge, Everton thought they had done a loan deal for Villarreal forward Arnaut Danjuma. But a delay allowed Spurs to come in and hijack the move, so Dyche will need solutions of his own or hope director of football Kevin Thelwell can deliver other options. And deliver them quickly.

Uncover a lost winning mentality

Dyche is no stranger to Everton’s soft underbelly which has left them looking even more at risk of relegation this season than when they only secured safety in their penultimate league game last term.

Not only is he no stranger to it – he actually pointed it out publicly while at Burnley.

When the Clarets trailed 2-1 to Everton at half-time in a crucial relegation clash at Turf Moor in April, Dyche later revealed what he had said to Burnley’s players to inspire a comeback to win 3-2.

He said: “I said to them at half-time ‘I’m not sure these know how to win a game, away from home particularly’.”

Everton proved Dyche was correct.

The statistics suggest Everton still do not know, with the problem applying at home as well as away after losing three successive games at Goodison Park against fellow strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers and bottom club Southampton, with a 4-1 thrashing by Brighton sandwiched in between.

And that is why Lampard went and Dyche is in.

Dyche has to hit ground running

The forthcoming closure of the transfer window makes all decisions even more time critical for a manager who has just walked into the building, with one major Everton outgoing poised to go through.

Dyche will at least arrive with some money to spend as Newcastle United have agreed to pay £40m for Everton’s home-grown 21-year-old Anthony Gordon in a deal that could eventually rise to £45m.

Gordon’s move was well on the way to completion even before Dyche’s arrival, although presumably it will have been mentioned in discussions and signed off.

This amount of transfer cash for a player who was coveted by Chelsea in the summer may help the Dyche apply a quick-fix for some of his problems over the next few days – although one complication will be potential selling clubs knowing Everton’s new manager has that money.

Dwight McNeil, Michael Keane and James Tarkowski
Dwight McNeil, Michael Keane and James Tarkowski all played under Dyche at Turf Moor

He will also be reunited with some familiar faces when he reports to Everton’s Finch Farm training complex as three of his new squad have made the switch from Turf Moor to Goodison Park.

Defender James Tarkowski and winger Dwight McNeil, the latter in a £20m deal, arrived in the summer. Tarkowski started well but has dipped, while McNeil has simply not adapted as yet, only making the occasional impact.

Intriguingly, former England defender Michael Keane, who flourished under Dyche at Burnley before making a £25m move to Everton in summer 2017, was completely frozen out by Lampard. He has figured in only three games in all competitions.

Keane was touted to move from Everton in January. Will that situation now change?

Dyche’s main messages

Dyche’s appointment has been, in the main, welcomed by Everton fans who are realistic about the current crisis and accept that while Marcelo Bielsa may have been the more exciting option, the new manager is pragmatic and has experience of the situation he has taken on.

He will send out the messages to those supporters that he wants Everton to be hard-working with a strong team ethic, showing heart and fight while injecting that culture throughout the club.

The problem is that he will have to infuse that into an Everton team showing precious little of those commodities this season.

Dyche faces a hazardous opening phase, with the game at home to Arsenal before a visit to Anfield to face Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. If he gets results in either or both of those games his stock will rise instantly.

He will tell Everton’s fans exactly how it is, but his confidence in his own coaching abilities, which have a tendency to be underrated, and experience will also give them new hope that they can navigate a way out of the lowly position they now occupy.

Dyche will not be daunted by what awaits him and he will be getting that across to fans who are currently looking for any measure of reassurance that there is light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel for Everton.

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