Sean Dyche has a significant advantage over his predecessors as he embarks on a three-month audition to impress prospective new owners.
Dyche arrived at Goodison Park having inherited English football’s version of a hospital pass. Now it is more like a free pass. His chances of reversing a dire situation will be enhanced once his players can consistently execute more than one successful pass.
The word from 777 Partners is Dyche has their support as they tapdance through the regulations before inheriting Everton’s latest fight for Premier League survival. While they are engaged in the process of proving they are fit and proper owners, they will not have the power nor inclination to headhunt another manager.
Demob happy majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, meanwhile, will spend the next few months dreaming of the possible swelling of his bank balance more than the league table, while members of Everton’s interim board will be more worried about their own long-term futures than the manager’s.
Director of football Kevin Thelwell is Dyche’s ally and probably realises his future is inextricably linked with that of the coach. They have been pretty much left to get on with the football operations since last season, presumably checking behind any old sofa for a stray £5 note and fit goalscorer.
Occasionally, the manager is candid about how unrealistic he thinks it is to expect any more than the team is producing.
“Our growth is where we are. There is a reality which I spoke about at the end of last season. Nothing was solved,” said Dyche.
“I said there is massive work to be done, although I thought we would have more points on the board by now.”
Dyche is experienced enough to know whatever backing he is receiving in the initial briefings will be conditional on results. Everton need to be in a better place than this in three months’ time.
Dyche: ‘We weren’t effective enough’
Before the third consecutive Goodison defeat this season, Dyche pointed to the performances being worth more than the solitary point. He could not make such a defence here.
True, this team cannot be reasonably judged against title contenders such as Arsenal, even if Goodison Park had hitherto been a burial ground for Mikel Arteta’s Premier League or Champions League qualifying hopes. Logic dictated Arsenal would be technically superior, and demonstrate more resilience to find a way against an opponent which retreated so deep they may as well organise future training sessions on the ocean floor.
But Everton have been losing winnable games, too, and it cannot be ignored how abject they were in possession.
There was a moment when Evertonians held their breath as new striker Beto demonstrated remarkable poise and skill in the penalty area, brushing off Arsenal’s challengers and neatly feeding a blue shirt. The problem? He was in his own penalty box, the Portugal striker bereft of any service beyond an expectation to chase hopeful aerial launches. Everton’s midfield was designed for running and tackling, the ball at their feet greeted with all the menace of a recently unpinned hand grenade.
“You can’t give the ball away that many times,” said Dyche. “That link on transition was missing and we weren’t effective enough.”
Even Everton’s set-pieces – the preferred weapon of choice when Dyche improbably staved off relegation last season – have lost potency.
There is some irony that Everton ended their latest defeat complaining about the lack of added time. They had not mustered a shot on target in 94 minutes and on this evidence would have struggled to do so in another 94.
Regardless of the considerable challenge, the Premier League’s due diligence regarding the takeover means extra time is a luxury Dyche has – certainly more than Frank Lampard and Rafa Benitez had. Regardless of how blunt the tools are, he needs to get more out of them.