Sean Dyche makes major admission over Everton survival after surprise problems emerge

Sean Dyche said keeping Everton up this season was his biggest achievement in football.

The Blues boss said the battle of this campaign, one in which his side had been hit with two points deductions and the uncertainty of a takeover saga yet to end, had been tough - particularly with no-one to rely on outside the club and the fanbase.

And he said the challenge had been made even more severe because it was different to one pitched to him when he took the job.

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Speaking after Everton confirmed survival with three games to spare Dyche said this season had been fraught for both him and his players. Often the figurehead amid a chaotic campaign, he has had to lead from the front on and off the pitch. That had been the case when he was appointed in January of last year and led the club to a last-gasp avoidance of the Championship.

The summer that followed did not see him receive the resources he expected to build on those early months, however. That, combined with eight points of deductions that undermined the progress in results that was being made, added to the pressure.

Asked to put into context how remarkable the achievement of staving off relegation was this year Dyche, who turned Burnley into a Premier League side and took the club into an unlikely season in Europe, said: “It is certainly my biggest one. To lead a group from where it was to where it is. It was different last season, that was tough enough. But this season has been incredibly tough and to see through the feeling and the noise at times. I have taken a few hits myself but that is part of my job, I haven’t got a problem with that, and to stay focused on the job for myself, my staff and the players. We can only lead the players and advise on what is good for them. It is whether they accept it and deliver it. They have been first class, even through all of the challenges we have had, they have been first class.”

Dyche said that the deductions that hit the club were particularly punishing, stressing his belief that without the pressure created by the unprecedented sanctions the club would not have broken its record for winless Premier League matches - a run that stretched over four months. And he took satisfaction from having led a survival charge of three wins in a week, including the Merseyside derby victory, from the nadir of the 6-0 humiliation at Stamford Bridge.

He had not expected the tribulations of this campaign, making reacting to them all the more difficult - and the success of the response all the more satisfying. Explaining why the job turned out to be different to what he initially expected, he added: “The idea of getting us through the [first] season and that there will be a more balanced view of the club going forward. By no means pots of gold but money available to twist and change, change the viewpoint on the pitch and therefore change the viewpoint of the club off the pitch. By the summer it was like ‘well there isn’t a pot of gold’, that is for sure, and then trying to work with deals that are interesting in my world, trying to get them to happen - backloaded deals. And then trying to change the negativity that seems to have hung over the club for three years.”

Dyche believes some of that negativity is starting to lift - but he cautioned more hard work needed to be done, though he would not be drawn into commenting on the importance of sorting out the ownership issue at a club seven months into a takeover deal that is still wracked with uncertainty. That instability is hindering efforts to forward-plan for a huge summer for Everton, he said earlier this week.