Sean Dyche marked his return to the Premier League by helping Everton pick up a huge 1-0 win over league leaders Arsenal.
The former Burnley manager has replaced Frank Lampard, who failed to steady the ship at Goodison Park and left them reeling in the relegation zone as well as out of all domestic cup competitions.
Dyche has a pretty wonky reputation among Premier League supporters because of his history with Burnley, who are now managed by the progressive Vincent Kompany.
The Englishman was able to work with a shoestring budget with the Clarets and help them stay alive in the Premier League for over six seasons.
Dyche’s style of football – however – has ruffled a lot of feathers in the past.
He isn’t really all about the Tiki-Taka or possession-based football – but encourages a more old-school approach that makes his side feel like one playing in the 1970s.
The Englishman is open about it, he wants his team to literally fight their way to winning games. If that involves his players committing fouls, physically tormenting opposition players and keep spamming crosses into the box – then so be it!
His playing style has been called a lot of things – Brexit Ball, Dyche Ball and even Spam Crosses Ball.
Dyche is well aware of how difficult it’ll be to keep Everton away from the relegation battle after their poor form this season. But having helped Burnley avoid the drop for many years, he is the ideal man to do so.
Dyche has already started implementing major changes to achieve his target –
What does Dyche want his Everton side to be like?
In his first press conference as Everton’s boss, the gaffer explained how he wants his side’s character to be liked. He said: “A team that embraces the past and understands it while building the future. I remember the mid-80s team really clearly.”
“But they weren’t just great players – they had fight, they had a teamship that you could feel through a TV screen, unsung heroes became heroes, some unfashionable types suddenly became these brilliant footballers. You’ve got to embrace that feeling. The fans played their part in that by glueing it all together.”
“We need a future version of that kind of feel. I thought: ‘Can I play my part in giving some of that to it?’ I think I can. On top of that you want ability, and of course the game has changed, but the great feel to that time at the club we’ve got to embrace while building the future. Don’t forget the values of the club. I’m not saying it has been forgotten. The fire is still there, we’ve just got to ignite it.”
As it is quite clear, Dyche wants his Everton team to embody the spirit of the 1980s team that even won the Premier League title twice.
What changes is he implementing?
Dyche wants to bring back a sense of professionalism and discipline at Everton to wake up his players from their slumber. An interesting thing he did immediately after taking over the club was to urge the players to fill in a ‘feedback form’ and give their own interpretations of what is going wrong.
The gaffer has revealed that soon after taking over, he handed every player in his squad a piece of paper with three simple questions about the club’s issues. All the answers were kept anonymous and players could even give extra comments if they really wanted to vent out their frustrations.
Dyche stated that all but three players from his squad filled out their forms. While he did this interesting thing off the pitch, the Englishman also decided to put his team through the grind in training. He has decided to put them through some tough tests in training in order to get his players up to speed with his demanding, physical playing style.
Bleep test in freezing cold
As per reports, Dyche even put his Everton squad to undergo the bleep test at a freezing 7 degrees temperature soon after taking over. Of course, the new gaffer was in shorts because winter doesn’t affect him at all.
A bleep test is a gruelling method of testing someone’s fitness or aerobic capacity (stamina). This is even used by military and police organisations to determine the physical state of their officers.
Dyche bans two items
In another interesting training ground rule change, the gaffer has even banned his players from wearing snoods or hats in training sessions or pre-match warming routines.
Instead, he wants them to start wearing shin pads so that players don’t hold back when they go into tackles.
He explained this in an interesting way, saying: “This has been going round for years and it drives me mad. Unless I’ve been out of the game for too long, you’re not allowed to wear hats when you play on a Saturday, you’re not allowed to wear snoods when you play on a Saturday and you have to, by the rules, wear shin pads. It is not rocket science.”
“Everyone makes the mythical story that it’s hard lines from Sean Dyche. It is just common sense. You train how you play, how can you train how you play if you have 14 snoods on, 15 hats and leggings, no shin pads, white socks, it’s not relevant. I told the players, ‘these myths I’m going to bust them for you right now’.
“I explained to them. There is not a single player here where everything is not explained to them. I’d be surprised if any of them are in the dark on anything. I explain everything to them and the reason behind it.”
Even though some of these changes might seem ludicrous to fans, they seem to have worked out! Everton put in their best performance of the season against Arsenal, overpowering and outperforming the league leaders to end their winning run.
The road to safety is still long and treacherous because Everton needs to keep winning games to get out of their tough situation. But knowing Dyche’s reputation for saving clubs from misery – one wouldn’t want to bet against his chances of securing Premier League safety for the Toffees