New Everton manager Sean Dyche will begin his reign with a visit to Premier League leaders Arsenal at Goodison Park next Saturday.
It’s fitting that Dyche starts Everton’s recovery process with the toughest task of the season as trying to beat an Arsenal side who have only lost once in the league this season will be a quick reminder and accurate of the formidable task he has undertaken. .
Everton are 19th in the Premier League with just three wins and 15 points from 20 games, amid dysfunction and toxicity off the pitch with fans protesting owner Farhad Moshiri and demanding the board be removed of the club.
Dyche’s inbound bin will overflow – so what are the main tasks facing the newest holder 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 goal will be trying to be the leader and a strong personality who can somehow bring unity to a club where rebellion is in the air, with supporters demanding change in another wrestling season. .
Everton’s support, for the most part, has remained supportive of Dyche’s predecessor Frank Lampard, reserving their fury for owner Moshiri and the club’s board, in particular chairman Bill Kenwright and chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale .
The board, which also includes former playing legend Graeme Sharp and chief financial officer Grant Ingles, have announced they are staying away from Everton’s latest home game against Southampton on safety advice, although large-scale fan protests still occurred.
They were present for Lampard’s last game, a 2-0 defeat at West Ham. Whether they will return against Arsenal remains to be seen, although it would be surreal even by Everton standards if the board were not responsible for a new manager’s first game.
Dyche’s powerful character will help. He speaks the kind of simple, down-to-earth language that Everton fans can relate to. No illusion, hyperbole or romantic notions.
Engineering this change of mood will be crucial as Everton fight for the survival of the Premier League.
Where will Dyche find goals?
Dyche inherits an Everton side with plenty of flaws, but chief among them is a chronic inability to score goals, with just 15 in the Premier League this season. Only wolves have a lower balance sheet.
Everton have failed to replace Brazilian striker and talisman Richarlison following his £60m move to Tottenham, while bets on Dominic Calvert-Lewin remaining fit have failed. Neal Maupay arrived from Brighton for £12million but made little impact.
Dyche will need to resolve this issue quickly if Everton are to have any chance of extricating themselves. Time is running out before the January transfer window closes.
And it will have that familiar feeling of working within strict boundaries. Everton won’t have much money to spend as they work within the confines of Financial Fair Play after a largely wasted transfer spending spree of over £500m.
With Lampard still in charge, Everton believed they had agreed a loan deal for Villarreal striker Arnaut Danjuma. But a delay allowed Spurs to step in and hijack the move, so Dyche will need his own solutions or hope director of football Kevin Thelwell can offer other options. And deliver them quickly.
Discover a Lost Winner Mentality
Dyche is no stranger to Everton’s soft underbelly, which has left them even more at risk of relegation this season than when they only provided security in their penultimate league game last season.
Not only is he no stranger to it, he’s actually pointed it out publicly 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 said to Burnley players to inspire a comeback to win 3-2.
He said: “I told them at half-time ‘I’m not sure they know how to win a game, especially away from home’.”
Everton proved Dyche right.
The stats suggest Everton still don’t know, with the issue applying both home and away after losing three successive games at Goodison Park to fellow fighters Wolverhampton Wanderers and latest club Southampton, with a 4th drubbing -1 from Brighton sandwiched between the two.
And that’s why Lampard is gone and Dyche is in.
Dyche must hit the ground running
The upcoming closing of the transfer window makes all decisions even more critical for a manager who has just entered the building, with a major Everton outgoing set to go.
Dyche will at least arrive with cash to spend as Newcastle United have agreed to pay £40m for Everton’s 21-year-old Anthony Gordon in a deal that could eventually reach £45m .
Gordon’s move was well on its way to completion even before Dyche arrived, although it was probably mentioned in talks and approved.
This amount of transfer money for a player coveted by Chelsea this summer may help the Dyche apply a quick fix to some of their problems over the next few days – although a complication will be the potential sale of clubs knowing that the new Everton manager has that money.
He will also find some familiar faces when he turns up at Everton’s Finch Farm training complex as three of his new squad have moved 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 fell, while McNeil just hasn’t adapted yet, only making the occasional impact.
Curiously, former England defender Michael Keane, who thrived under Dyche at Burnley before moving for £25m to Everton in the summer of 2017, has been completely frozen out by Lampard. He has only played three games in all competitions.
Keane was touted to leave Everton in January. Will this situation now change?
Dyche’s main messages
Dyche’s appointment has, on the whole, been 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.
He will send the message to those supporters that he wants Everton to work hard with a strong team ethic, showing heart and fighting while injecting that culture throughout the club.
The problem is he will have to infuse that into an Everton side showing very little of those products this season.
Dyche faces a dangerous opening phase, with the home game against Arsenal before a visit to Anfield to face Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. If he scores in either or both of these games, his stock will increase instantly.
He will tell Everton fans exactly how it is, but his confidence in his own coaching abilities, which tend to be underestimated, and his experience will also give them new hope that they can rise from the lowly position they they occupy now.
Dyche will not be intimidated by what lies ahead and he will make it clear to fans who are currently looking for some measure of reassurance that there is light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel for Everton.