Sean Dyche has said he wants to ignite the fire that still burns at Everton by creating a team that embodies the values of Howard Kendall’s great sides of the 80s.
The Everton manager starts his reign amid difficult circumstances on Saturday when the league leaders, Arsenal, visit in a game bookended by protests against the board. Despite the acrimony and the team’s dreadful run of one win in 12 Premier League games, Dyche believes there remains a spirit at Everton that can be crucial in the fight to avoid relegation. And he wants to tap into the values that underpinned the club’s last period of sustained success.
Asked to outline his ideal Everton team, Dyche replied: “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 feel. 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.”
Dyche’s last game as a manager was on 10 April last year, when Burnley’s 2-0 defeat at Norwich prompted the end of his nine-and-a-half-year reign. For all of Everton’s problems, which intensified when they failed to make a January signing, he is relishing his Goodison debut.
“I will have that game-day anxiety – are they going to deliver what we’ve been working on? – but of course there will be excitement. It’s Everton Football Club. I know the history. Imagine the chance to turn it around. Imagine the chance I have to play my part, because there are a lot of people involved in this, in reshaping things and turning it around … I am proud to be here.”
Dyche denied falling out with several players towards the end at Burnley, notably Dwight McNeil who joined Everton last summer. “I’ve never fallen out with anyone, certainly not Dwighty,” he said. “I gave him his debut and didn’t leave him out for over 100 games. It must have been some falling-out. I didn’t fall out with anyone, just didn’t win enough games.”