Sean Dyche has said he had no illusions about the magnitude of the task at Everton and would have taken a final-day decider to save the club’s Premier League status when replacing Frank Lampard in January.
Dyche’s team must beat Bournemouth at Goodison Park on Sunday to guarantee survival and avoid a relegation that could place the club’s future in financial jeopardy. Everton were second from bottom with 15 points from 20 games when Dyche arrived, although only three points off 14th place. They have collected 18 points from 17 Premier League games since, improving their points-per-game ratio from 0.75 under Lampard to 1.06 under Dyche, and the manager admits he would have signed up for the pressure – and potential reward – of Sunday when taking the job.
“Yes, I would,” he said. “It’s easy to forget. I came here and they were three points inside the relegation zone [it was two points]. Now we are two points out of it. Five points [four points] doesn’t sound a lot but when you factor in all the injuries that we have had and what has gone on, you would have taken it. Many people were saying then that we were done. We have shifted considerably but the biggest measure is the end of the season.”
Dyche has more injury problems. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is sidelined again and, unless Vitaliy Mykolenko recovers from a thigh problem, Everton will be without recognised full-backs.
“There was no naivety in coming here,” Dyche said. “As soon as I saw the squad I could see there was an imbalance. You were only an injury or two away from that imbalance becoming worse. I had done my homework. I knew what the challenge was. It’s just that we are right down to the end to get the challenge done.”
Speculation has started over Dyche’s future, with one report this week claiming Everton were sounding out potential replacements. Dyche, the club’s eighth permanent manager in seven years under the owner, Farhad Moshiri, said: “Good businesses should be succession planning, I have no problem with that. Everyone should be succession planning. If that was the case, that’s the way it goes, but I certainly wouldn’t be too worried about that.”