Sean Dyche said Everton’s victory over the Premier League leaders, Arsenal, was only the starting point for the effort needed to preserve his club’s top-flight status, as he enjoyed the perfect opening to his Goodison Park reign.
The new Everton manager oversaw only the team’s second league win in 13 matches, and their first since October, as James Tarkowski’s first goal for the club condemned Mikel Arteta’s side to their second league defeat of the season. Dyche was full of praise for a relentless performance and the backing of an impassioned Goodison crowd, but insisted there could be no let up in the fight to avoid relegation.
“It’s a starting point,” said the former Burnley manager. “This win and performance doesn’t guarantee the next one. It is a start, the way the players have taken ownership and pride in what we have tried to do this week – and I value that – and then how we can take that forward.
“I wanted a performance. The players have put a lot of honesty into the week and a lot of respect in the changes we have tried to make. You could clearly see there was a response. I thought the fans were terrific. They gave us an immediate start point without the ball even rolling and that’s an important factor, creating a feelgood factor and then us joining in with it. The performance was built on the belief in the base, my way of working, the belief in each other, getting organised with the tactics. I think we can provide more quality but that grows with confidence. It always starts with the minimum requirement being maximum effort and that was maximum effort today.”
Amadou Onana, the subject of interest from Arsenal and Chelsea in the recent transfer window, was immense in midfield but Dyche insisted there is much more to come from the Belgium international.
“He is a talent, but the ugly side of the game he has to learn,” Dyche said. “I told him I would get [former Burnley player] Steven Defour to speak with him. He will teach him what the requirements of the Premier League are. He has come in here with real talent and is fantastic physically. We will get him get fitter and sharper and teach him to be a complete player. Steven will help me educate him. He is a well-respected international footballer for Belgium and he will rub off on him [Onana]. If he doesn’t, I’ll rub off on him.”
Arteta admitted Arsenal struggled with Everton’s direct approach and to capitalise on several promising openings in the second half, although he declared his love for the team after the setback to their title aspirations.
“I want the team to know how much I love them,” Arteta said. “I love them much more now than three hours ago, a week ago, a month ago, three months ago. It’s very easy to be next to the players when they’re winning and performing. These are the moments when I love my players more and my staff more and we’re going to stay together. This journey is going to be difficult and challenging and there’s going to be big stones [obstacles] in the middle and we have to overcome that. Now we have to prepare really well to get to Saturday with the right emotional spirit to beat Brentford.”