Sean Dyche urged Everton to take the final three steps to Premier League survival after his side gave their prospects a huge shot in the arm with an unlikely 5-1 win at Brighton.
Everton had been winless in 13 away games but were brilliant at the Amex Stadium, scoring three first‑half goals without reply and weathering a recovery from their hosts to add another two through Dwight McNeil. They ended the day two points clear of the relegation zone and can smell a second dramatic escape in as many seasons.
“I said to the lads it is only another step, just a step,”said Dyche, who was nonetheless delighted with how his players implemented the tactical plan he had devised. “There are three more big steps we have to take.”
Those are assignments with Manchester City, Wolves and Bournemouth. Dyche will hope for similarly effective showings and said the display against Brighton did not surprise him in the wake of a lively outing at Leicester a week previously.
“I’m not sure I [saw it coming] myself, with the scoreline. I saw the performance coming because I saw it at Leicester. There’s been a lot of noise about Everton playing away but we’ve been improving the mentality. There have been some stronger performances away from home, more committed.”
His opposite number, Roberto De Zerbi, lamented a surprising capitulation that jeopardises Brighton’s chase for a European spot and came four days after a jubilant late victory against Manchester United. He questioned his team’s mental approach, saying they had not moved on from that win, and claimed they are still short of the level required to compete near the top.
“I’m disappointed for the first half, because we showed we are not ready yet to compete to achieve the big target,” De Zerbi said. “I’m speaking about mentality, not other things. Playing three games per week is difficult but if you want to improve, if you want to fix your target higher, you have to improve.”
Asked to elaborate, he said: “We didn’t forget the victory against Man United. The biggest quality of the big team is to forget when you win. You have to be ready to play every game, every day, and today we arrived at the stadium late: in the second half.
“I hope we can remember this date for a long time. What you did in the past is not important. It doesn’t count.”