Sean Dyche And Everton Hope Familiarity Breeds Competence


Everton faces a tough test at Chelsea this weekend but goes into the game in its highest league position in 2023.

Sat in 15th place, Sean Dyche’s team still has plenty to do to fight its way out of the relegation scrap, but there has been some encouragement in the way the team has reacted to the new manager.

Dyche replaced Frank Lampard in February, kicking off his tenure with an impressive win against the Premier League leader, Arsenal.

Everton has as many wins (three) in seven games under Dyche as it managed in the first 20 games of the season.

If the Premier League season started when Dyche joined, the club would be in the top half of the table, just three points behind local rival Liverpool.

On joining the club, Dyche will have been met by some familiar faces. Current Everton players James Tarkowski, Dwight McNeil, and Michael Keane all played for him during their time at Burnley.

This familiarity has been important to Dyche as he has worked to embed his style of football in the team in order to help it avoid relegation from the Premier League.

This is the second season in a row Everton has been in a relegation battle. Not that long ago the club’s ambition was to challenge for the European qualification places at the top end of the table, but poor recruitment strategy, lack of structure and organisation from the top of the club, and a managerial merry-go-round that has seen seven different managers in the seven years since Ronald Koeman replaced Roberto Martinez in 2016, has led to a decline and uncertainty.

The different managers have themselves brought different things to the table, with varying styles of play leading to a hotchpotch roster of players who don’t fit one particular style.

Dyche, however, might be the club’s best chance of finding some common ground, and a clear plan that players can buy into. Keane, Tarkowski, and McNeil could play a big part in that.

McNeil had not had the best of times at the club since joining in the summer 2022 transfer window but has enjoyed something of a turnaround under Dyche.

“I think a new manager comes in—I’m a familiar person to him, of course, I gave him his debut,” Dyche said when asked about McNeil following the recent game against Brentford, in which the 23-year-old scored the winning goal.

“He probably just thought, well, I know what this manager wants, the depth of what I want.

“I’m sure he was trying to work for the last manager in the right way, but he was probably learning, and probably didn’t understand some of the stuff they were trying to do.

“Whereas with me and my staff, he knows the expectation. So some of the changes that were made very quickly wouldn’t have been a surprise to him.”

Keane, on the other hand, has been at Everton for some time now, having joined from Burnley in 2017, but has also struggled in recent seasons.

Like McNeil, he has looked more comfortable under Dyche’s management, though, coming back into the side and returning to something approaching good form.

The English defender’s form had dropped to such an extent that he had only played 22 minutes of Premier League football this season under Lampard.

He initially remained on the bench after Dyche arrived, but has now started and played the full 90 minutes in Everton’s last three games, in which they have picked up four points.

“As I say, the players—if you worked with me before—just get a head start, but they’ve still got to deliver performances,” Dyche added following the Brentford win.

“I thought Keano [Keane] did well again. I thought he was very good [in the draw] at [Nottingham] Forest, and I thought he did well.

“He understands maybe a bit clearer. He left [Burnley] a while ago, but he wouldn’t have forgotten, I’m pretty sure of that. Most people who worked with me pretty much remember how.

“And Tarky [Tarkowski] is going very well. Before I was here I was told he was going very well anyway, and he’s just continued that kind of form.”

Dyche’s style of well-organised, compact, narrow defence, coupled with high-pressing in certain moments, should make Everton difficult to play against. It is something of a continuation of the tactics he used at Burnley, with the hope the team can fine tune and improve as they get used to this initial style.

The new manager will also have a clear idea of the kind of players he wants the club to sign in the transfer market.

Everton and Dyche hope this clarity in terms of style of play will help keep them in the Premier League. They will then hope future clarity in terms of recruiting for said style could see them kick on and avoid similar peril next season.

Forbes Business

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