Everton’s focus has been on the chaos off the pitch – now Sean Dyche must urgently find answers to that

Sean Dyche hasn’t had the money to buy players of the caliber to turn draws into wins – Alex Livesey/Getty Images

You could be forgiven for thinking that whoever decided that Easter Sunday evening was the right time to reveal Everton’s latest eye-watering £89.1 million loss was indulging in gallows humor.

Rather than welcoming the prospect of a resurrection, all that can be read from the grim Goodison accounts is the kind of impending doom that the club has tried to claim has been exaggerated in recent years.

The sardonic interpretation is that someone at Goodison Park calculated that the most critical eye would be focused elsewhere over the Bank Holiday weekend, Manchester City and Arsenal in the final stages of their battle, while Everton finally published what the Premier League announced in December knew – that their financial situation is bad. even bleaker than when they were handed an initial penalty of ten demerit points (later reduced to six) between 2021 and 2022 for breaching profit and sustainability rules.

Before the team’s trip to Newcastle United, there will be plenty of sympathy for manager Sean Dyche as the challenging conditions under which he and his players work become increasingly apparent. Thirty-one points from 29 games undoubtedly represents progress over the course of a year for a manager paralyzed in the transfer market and dealing with disastrous problems caused by others.

Everton’s initial 10-point penalty, and the acceptance that the rankings were not just lying but shouting untruths when Dyche’s side would have been mid-table, cannot be brushed aside in passing judgment. With six more points, Everton would be fourteenth and a comfortable nine points above the bottom three. The prospect of relegation probably wouldn’t have been talked about since the first few games of the season.

Sean Dyche during the defeat to BournemouthSean Dyche during the defeat to Bournemouth

Sean Dyche has seen a worrying decline in form – Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

But there is another, more critical school of thought that Dyche must now undermine; that events off the pitch have become a useful shield to excuse how poorly Everton are currently playing on the pitch.

There has been a worrying decline in form in 2024, with Everton still waiting for their first league win of the year.

Saturday’s defeat at Bournemouth was Everton’s twelfth Premier League game without a win. The last time that happened was at the start of the 1994-95 season, when Mike Walker was sacked and Joe Royle immediately led a revival that ended with the FA Cup.

As the barren run continued, Dyche supporters were still leaning on the fallout from the Premier League’s initial ruling on November 16, as well as the uncertainty surrounding ownership, with 777 Partners’ bid having the unfortunate, ironic consequence that all alarms were hoisted. above Goodison Park.

One of the explanations for the dip in form is that Everton are still suffering from the psychological impact of the first 10-point deduction.

“It changes the perception, it changes the feeling, it changes the fan base, it changes the feeling of performances. That’s just a fact,” Dyche said in February.

“We all measure things differently if the team is at the top, middle or bottom.

“Does that affect the team while the process is going on? At first everyone says of course not because you win four, but you could say that there is a delayed effect.”

There has undoubtedly been more anxiety on Goodison’s matchdays as every match has been played amid the feeling of being plunged into a relegation battle when – under other circumstances – a push back into the top half would have been the prize.

That said, this view is somewhat undermined given Everton’s best winning run after their initial points deduction.

Supporters and players united behind the idea that the club was being severely punished because of the Premier League’s lackluster way in determining what is an appropriate punishment for overspending.

It’s hypothetical to think what the Goodison atmosphere would be like if Everton were further away from the drop zone – it would obviously be less nervous, but the idea that Gwladys Street would be happy with the style and level of the execution requires a stretch of the imagination.

No Premier League team has had fewer shots in open play than Everton this season, only two have a worse record of passing accuracy and no team has completed a greater number of long passes. Although Everton have earned more points than they have collected – especially at home – they have had a tough time in recent months.

Dyche can point to a run of games, particularly at Goodison Park, where Everton have missed easy opportunities to turn their season around. There are also several controversial refereeing decisions that affect the outcome, although any manager at any Premier League club can read that script.

Frank Lampard, Rafa Benitez and Marco Silva could have made similar arguments against Dyche during their worst, sometimes unhappy reigns. There is an uncanny similarity – especially in Lampard’s case – in the way an initial wave of optimism to keep the team in the Premier League preceded an unsustainable decline.

Dyche has not had the transfer pot to recruit a player of the caliber who could have turned the six draws since December 19 into wins.

Where Dyche is fortunate, unlike Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Silva, Benítez and Lampard, there is no Everton manager with authority or influence who can offer him a vote of confidence, let alone his work in can cast doubt. The club probably couldn’t even afford to replace him if they were considering it.

Everton’s latest woes show the club’s problems extend far beyond the manager. Last year, Dyche provided a glimmer of hope to keep the club in the Premier League. He accepted the formidable task of finding a solution to historical problems, and like the previous problems, must come away with the feeling that managing Everton is akin to walking a tightrope in a gale force wind.

Now he has to repeat the trick to make sure the spotlight doesn’t shine on him more often.

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