Sean Dyche offers Everton fans something they have been sorely lacking
Everton's majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri will feel reassured if Sean Dyche performs as admirably on the training pitch as he did at his first press conference, the new manager fending off all loaded questions about the club’s recruitment failures with a stirring call for unity from long-suffering fans.
Given the circumstances, it might have been more appropriate had 51-year-old Dyche been unveiled in combat rather than training gear.
“Choppy water,” was how he described the club’s position upon being entrusted with saving the club from relegation. A minefield is perhaps a more accurate description.
Here was the first-team coach as a human shield, Everton’s executives hoping the natural goodwill and support for a new appointment will temporarily defuse tensions as the club again flirts with relegation.
Dyche's most passionate address was for the fans to park the grievances which have created such a wedge between them and the club’s hierarchy, with further protests planned for this weekend’s visit of Arsenal.
“The message is clear – [we need] unity," he said. "We have to. It's a given. Even the most disgruntled Evertonians. I'm reaching out to them. We'll give you honesty, work ethic and all we ask is give us a window to breathe and get ourselves going.
“I'm aware of the recent noise around the club. I'm learning why there is noise. What I know about Evertonians is they stick by their club, look after it and that's what we need now. We want them to support us from the off and wear their hearts on their sleeves – even the ones who have questions. If they can park it for a little while and hopefully reconnect with us.”
The most pertinent questions about how and why Everton are 19th and failed to strengthen in the transfer window pre-date Dyche’s arrival given he had only two days to make signings and by then Anthony Gordon was already learning the words to Fog on the Tyne.
Criticism has increasingly focused on the role of director of football, Kevin Thelwell but Dyche backed the decision not to panic on deadline day as the clamour for a new striker grew.
“One thing I can assure you. Since I got here on Saturday and all I have seen is hard work, particularly in the recruitment area,” said Dyche.
“The owner, the chairman, Kev (Thelwell), myself. I have been leaving here late at night, Kev on the phone constantly, the chairman on the phone constantly. I saw it. I was here. We were ringing agents. There was crunching of analytics.
“You have to have alignment. They (new players) have to be better than what we have here. I have never been one for signing players for the sake of signing them. When you are talking about players coming in and going straight into the team. I am not going to sign players for the sake of signing them and never see them again. They have to be good enough to affect games.”
Contrary to some rumours sweeping Merseyside, Thelwell has not considered his position in the wake of Everton’s fruitless search, Dyche sympathetic to the obstacles.
Club sources say Gordon was sold because he demanded a transfer and Everton’s financial situation remains bleak, the winger seen as more dispensable than highly-rated midfielder Amadou Onana. No bids materialised for the young Belgian.
Having already toured Everton’s Finch Farm HQ, Arnaut Danjuma was on his way back to sign last week only to decide to get off the train at Crewe and head back to London to join Tottenham Hotspur, with the Merseysiders’ suspecting Villarreal delayed paperwork to invite counter offers.
A deal was agreed for Kamaldeen Sulemana only for the Ghanaian to choose Southampton and the move for Udinese’s Beto stalled when the fee rose to £35 million, Everton unsure the value reflected the scout reports.
Although Everton considered free agents Andre Ayew and Isco, they insist the interest never led to concrete offers.
“Bringing players in does not always improve your squad,” said Dyche. “You should do a stat of players who go into a club in January and see how many games they play at the end of the season and then decide who affected who in what manner.
“When you sign a player there is no absolute guarantee that that player is going to strengthen you. I am not talking about superpower players – Man Utd sign someone for £100m then the chances are that they are probably going to have a positive effect. But we were never going to sign somebody for £100m, so therefore it is that fine line.
“There were no promises to me at all. I agreed to come in. They said it was going to be a tough window and guess what? It was a tough window. Honesty is all you want.”
Dyche’s first day in charge involved handing a questionnaire to his players inviting their observations about how and why they are in such peril.
“I just wanted their honest feedback,” he said, without revealing confidential responses. “There were only two out of the whole group who didn’t respond.”
Dyche’s hope – like all Evertonians – is that a fresh voice will have a galvanising impact. Supporters have been demanding more transparency from the club. On first impressions, they will get that from their new coach.
“I'm a marmite manager,” said Dyche. “Some players and managers get a head start because of a pre-loaded view. I've never asked for that. It's a proud football club with a rich history. I've got to earn my part of that.”