Sean Dyche appealed to disgruntled Evertonians to park their grievances with the club and lift his relegation-threatened team, as he denied receiving promises over transfers before taking the job.
The new Everton manager witnessed the fracture between fans and board on his second day in charge when protests were held outside Finch Farm training ground over the failure to make a January signing. Demonstrations against the board are planned for before and after Saturday’s home match against the league leaders Arsenal, with organisers pledging their support to Dyche and his players during the game.
Dyche believes that backing is imperative to Everton remaining in the Premier League. He said: “We want the fans to reconnect with us, but that’s easy to say. I’ve got to earn my spurs. I’m a marmite manager anyway – not everyone wants you. We’ve got to put the hard yards in. We want them to support us from the off, even the ones who have angles, questions, if they can park it for a little while and hopefully reconnect with us.
“Some players and managers get a head start because of a preloaded view. I’ve never asked for that. This is a proud football club with a rich history and I’ve got to earn my part of that. I’ve been in Goodison when it’s rocking and it’s interesting when you’re on the other side. I want that atmosphere. The message is clear: unity. We have to. Even the most disgruntled Evertonians needs to give us a chance because their backing is very important. I’m reaching out to them: we’ll give you honesty, work ethic, and all we ask is give us a window to breathe, to get ourselves going.”
The task confronting Dyche was made more difficult by Everton ending the transfer window with a weaker squad, having sold Anthony Gordon to Newcastle for £40m and failed to sign much-needed additions to the forward line. The club did not make an offer to André Ayew before he signed for Nottingham Forest as a free agent and are unlikely to move for Isco, another free agent.
Dyche insisted he and the director of football, Kevin Thelwell, would not “sign players for the sake of it – they’ve got to be better than what we’ve got here”. Despite the owner, Farhad Moshiri, promising a new striker in an interview with Everton’s fan advisory board, Dyche claims he received no such assurances.
“When you sign a player there is no absolute given that the player is going to strengthen you,” he said. “My point is there is no guarantee, all it does is give you an improved chance if you sign the right players. There were no promises to me at all. I agreed to come in. They said it was going to be a tough window. Guess what? It was a tough window. Honesty is all you want.”
Dyche conducted a question and answer session with Everton’s players on his first day, asking them to write down – anonymously – why they thought the season had gone wrong and what could be done to correct it. All but two of the first-team squad replied and their feedback was used to shape the first training sessions.
“I gave them a sheet with some simple questions on,” Dyche said. “I didn’t want to lead them anywhere; the questions were as open and as short as I could make it. It allowed them the chance to express whatever they thought. I just wanted honest feedback on: ‘Where it is all at, what is your opinion of it?’ Similar themes came back and so that is what we have to look at. We shared it back with them and said: ‘Right, we have to buy into that.’”