I like Sean Dyche. Lesser manager's would have withered and died in the Everton hot seat since he was appointed in January 2023. His voice, a cross between a chain smoking mini cab owner, and an army sergeant major, masks a highly intelligent football 'thinker', who I enjoy listening to when I watch him on the telly.

I'm not sure many of the current crop of managers deemed as suitable for the Everton job would have steadied the ship in the manner in which he has. Undoubtedly, he's been dealt an awful hand, forced because of the club's current financial situation, not only to sell his best players to remain solvent, but to scratch around for 'free transfers', loan players or even 'buy now, pay later' deals.

Okay, that's the plaudits… here's what frustrates me about him. 

Football Style

I don't mind teams playing a direct style of football. What I think is awful is his long-standing policy of launching long balls up to a centre-forward (mainly Calvert-Lewin), with his back to goal, and two hairy-arsed centre-backs marking him so tightly, his only option is to flick the ball on, mainly to non-existent front runners. As soon as you continue along this path of 'hoofball', not only do you hand over control to your opponents, but more importantly, you don't exert any control of the game itself.

I honestly can't recall under his reign when we have played anything like possession football; indeed, the players seem incapable of keeping the ball for any length of time. I'm not sure they're encouraged to, to be honest.

We continually have one of the lowest percentages of retaining the ball in the Premier League during games. I hate to use so-called 'lesser' clubs as examples but, honestly, why is it that Brighton, Brentford, Wolves and Fulham, to name a few, are all better to watch from a football perspective than Everton? Is it all down to them having better players, or more progressive managers, who believe in style over substance?

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I've been watching Everton for over 50 years now but, results aside and the dreadful position we have found ourselves in over the last few years, I don't really enjoy watching this team. I accept their limitations in terms of ability, but the playing style is dirge.

Team Selection  

As I mentioned earlier, Dyche has had his hands tied financially and doesn't have a lot of choice in choosing what he believes to be his best XI. But the emerging Branthwaite, who is going to be one of our best young players ever, only got his chance because of injuries to fellow defenders despite impressing for PSV in the Eredivisie league.

Similarly, the continuous selection of Ashley Young, who at 38, is an accident waiting to happen during games, and has been responsible for many of our defensive mistakes, whilst also contributing to the team having to play with 10 men on a number of occasions, only adds to the problem.

What must Nathan Patterson think of his future chances when a guy 16 years his senior gets chosen regularly ahead of him? Our Player of the Season three seasons ago, Ben Godfrey, has been well and truly frozen out, granted, after a long spell out injured and suffering from Covid to boot, but he get's absolutely no game time.

It seems once Dyche has made his mind up about you, that's it – game over.


Sorry, I'm not sure that keeping players on the pitch who are 'out on their feet' after 60 minutes is astute management – particularly when the opposition are making up to four substitutions at the same time. It is just plain crazy. 

Dyche prides himself on his players being super fit but, in the modern game, is it that wise to keep the same eleven on the pitch for 85 minutes? Again, I just don't get it.

So that's why his management style is something of a conundrum to me. Do I think he's right for Everton at this time? Probably. But do I have confidence that his playing style, if we can move into the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock still with our Premier League status intact, is right for us? I'm not so sure. I just don't like 'hoofball'.

Tin hat at the ready.

Reader Comments (26)

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Jack Convery
1 Posted 29/11/2023 at 05:37:00
These players cannot play possession-based football. They do not have the technical skills to do so.

Carlo found that out and came up with a way to play, as Dyche has done. Frank Lampard wanted them to play out from the back – they couldn't do it.

Derek Thomas
2 Posted 29/11/2023 at 07:34:39
... "masks a highly intelligent football 'thinker'" good job we didn't hire a dummy then.

I was 'okay' with Moyes; except for 'a', 'b' & 'c', oh and maybe 'd'.

I was 'okay' with Martinez; except for 'a' etc, etc.

I was never 'okay' with Benitez – especially his version of zonal marking.

I'm 'okay' with Dyche; except for I think he plays the back 4 too narrow – which is okay only if the 2 infront of the fullbacks are really up to it or, in Young's case, the fullback himself... it's like playing with 10 men.

McNeil seems to have 2nd season syndrome or he's not fully fit and has been drafted in because who else is there?

We have a squad of 12 and some odds and sods.

You don't always get what you want – but you get what you need.

I'm okay for now… but jeez, Sean, I'd have Young and the Tea Lady swap jobs if I were you.

Sam Hoare
3 Posted 29/11/2023 at 07:38:27
I've spoken about this before but I think there is a mistaken belief that possession necessarily equals control.

Of course the best teams with the best players are able to hog the ball and use it to control matches and hurt other teams. But that style does not suit everyone.

For me, control equals creating more chances or opportunities to score than your opponent and we have done that consistently this season. Our biggest issue has been converting those chances. Indeed I posted this stat yesterday: Everton have had 124 shots at home in the Premier League this season - only Liverpool (129) have had more.

Conversely, Everton have scored just 5 goals at home in the Premier League this season – the joint-fewest in the league (with Burnley).

Perhaps in the future, it may be nice to aspire to a more aesthetically pleasing brand of football but, right now and probably for the next season or so (till we get revenue from new stadium), we are in a dogfight. I can't think of many better managers to get us through that fight than Dyche.

For years, Everton have appointed managers who don't really fit the squad we have or the situation that we're in. Dyche is a good fit for where we are. Thank God the board finally made a decent decision with him or else we'd be down.

John Raftery
4 Posted 29/11/2023 at 13:48:42
Unless you are in the lead, a comfortable lead, possession must have a purpose. Sean Dyche has fielded a team playing a style which creates chances to score goals.

Our players suit that style. Collectively they do not have the skill-set to make a pass-pass-pass x 10 style effective.

Ben Godfrey has been nowhere near good enough to earn a first-team place for the last 2½ years. His performance at Old Trafford in April was embarrassing. What is his position? At centre-back, he is several levels below Branthwaite. At full-back, he is behind Patterson and well behind Mykolenko.

At present, the team as a whole plays better with Ashley Young at right-back. Patterson's opportunity will come in the next few weeks. He is still learning his trade but needs to be ready to take his chance when given it. Like Godfrey, he has a touch of the headless chicken in his game but he is athletic and could be a force going forward.

In regard to Branthwaite, it is just not true that he only got his chance owing to injuries. He had been away with England Under-21s in the summer and needed a couple of weeks to get up to speed with his fitness before being slotted into the starting eleven.

I think the late substitutions tell us how much confidence Dyche has in the replacements. Not a lot, I guess.

Dale Self
5 Posted 29/11/2023 at 14:02:24
I wanted to avoid this since everyone knows what my position is but, now that it gets two articles on top of recent suggestive posts, I have a question:

Is it a proper way to do business to go to the new stadium and not retain the one man who enabled us to get there?

No offence but that is fucking rich.

Steve Brown
6 Posted 29/11/2023 at 14:07:59
Dyche is the right man at the right club at the right time.

Given what has happened to us, I no longer care about the style of play or the possession stats provided we carve out results.

Young has made repeated mistakes in recent matches, but Dyche doesn't pick Patterson because his defensive positional play is dreadful. Hopefully, Seamus will help stabilise the right side of the defence.

Where Dyche needs to rethink is his underuse of substitutes. The pace and physicality of the league means managers use 2-3 subs per game minimum. He also needs to be braver about when he introduces fresh legs.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 29/11/2023 at 14:11:58
Dyche is a couple of players away from making us a genuine competitive side, and a couple of injuries away from a certain relegation dog-fight, imo.
Barry Hesketh
8 Posted 29/11/2023 at 14:23:14
I think despite our hopes, as a club, we have to contemplate not being in the Premier League at the start of next season, if the points deduction remains, that's of course not a given, but it's a heck of a handicap to overcome.

Last season at the half-way stage we had 15 points on the board, to reach that total from our current position and with the upcoming fixtures, we'll do well to get anywhere near it.

A point from each of the next six matches would give us a total of 10, therefore we need at least a couple of victories and a few draws, in this run up to Christmas and the half-way mark of the season.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is, if the worst happened, would Dyche be the best manager available to us, to launch our promotion fight? Would his side be able to win enough matches in a competitive league to enable the club to come straight back up?

Should the club, regardless of which league we are playing in next season, and the financial situation it might find itself in, stick with Dyche and ask him to rebuild the foundations, until the club is in a position of stability and thus able to truly pick and choose a manager that suits its changing needs going forward?

We also don't know what any potential new owners may have in mind, when it comes to who leads Everton in the next few years… What are their expectations? What footballing philosophy, if any, will they have in mind for their new acquisition?

Should relegation, despite the mitigating circumstances surrounding his tenure, automatically lead to his dismissal anyhow?

Perhaps all of these questions about Dyche's position should be left until much later in the season so that everybody can concentrate on putting as many points on the board as is possible until our fate is known?

Steve Hogan
9 Posted 29/11/2023 at 14:27:23
John (4)

Because a player had a stinker at Old Trafford, does that mean he's still rank seven months later? Clearly the manager shares the same viewpoint as you.

What I'm saying, is at least give the guy a chance coming off the bench. He's demonstrated his quality in the past, he's 25 not 38 years old.

James Marshall
10 Posted 29/11/2023 at 14:30:29
Whatever you think of Dyche the coach, here are some interesting stats. I like Dyche as a personality, BTW.

We're 9th in the league for 'big' chances created (whatever big means).

And we're 4th for big chances missed.

We're 5th for the amount of shots on goal.

We're also 17th for touches of the ball, which does lend some weight to us being rather direct – or it could be down to us not having much possession.

On that note, we're 18th for passes.

Paul Hewitt
11 Posted 29/11/2023 at 14:37:03
His tactics are negative, his in-game management poor. And his home record is appalling.

Give him a 3-year deal.

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 29/11/2023 at 15:25:03
I think the article states the obvious. Selecting Young ahead of Patterson and Godfrey. Why can Patterson and Godfrey not be brought up to standard?

His game, particularly in the second half, is a formula that does not counter tactical change by the opposition, or show a changed initiative. Why no tactical substitutions?

Both are a problem.

Alan J Thompson
13 Posted 29/11/2023 at 15:34:19
As I've said before, I was not enamoured of his appointment but, after keeping us up, he had to be given another chance.

Now we are in the position that, if we avoid relegation, then he must be given another chance… and if we are relegated would it be fair to blame him because of the 10-point penalty?

I think his use of substitutes is poor and quite often sees a striker replacing a striker rather than having two playing in tandem. Similarly, we score or come close when we manage to get more players into the opposition's penalty area but then seem to play the majority of the game with a lone striker chasing a long ball, quite often from our keeper, or with somebody, usually Doucoure, arriving late.

It could be put down to the squad we have but I think that Garner plays better with Onana while McNeil has to recapture his better form of last season and it is there that we must present an alternative to Calert-Lewin alone.

Mr Dyche, maybe rightly, seems to prefer we are more defensively sound… and School of Science it isn't.

Bill Gall
14 Posted 29/11/2023 at 16:15:53
The question is not is he the right person for the job but who is?

We have gone through more managers over x amount of years with each one having his own style of play, and what makes me smile is the one that had some success was someone not many wanted, and that was Fat Sam.

We all want Everton to be successful and, since I started watching Everton in 1954, I have been lucky in seeing a successful club.

When I first started my apprenticeship as a mechanic, an instructor told me to become proficient you look at the pyramids, build a solid base and work your way up to the top, and to me that works in the majority of industry.

Successful Everton teams had a solid base with a well-run club and to me, that is the major difference from earlier, to today.

We are not a well-run club from the top and that reaches to the playing side and, until we get a stable-run organization, we can hire any manager who will come, and he will find the same problems will continue.

Sean Dyche is a survivalist manager and unfortunately is best suitable for survival. Until the mess over a possible takeover takes place, changing the manager again will achieve nothing apart from criticism. The one thing he has done, supported by the points deduction, is got unity in the playing staff.

Jay Harris
15 Posted 29/11/2023 at 18:23:08
I used to call Burnley and alehouse team under Dyche but, since he came to us, I have to confess he has won me over as the man for right now.

For years, we have bought players who can't score goals, even forwards, and once we lost Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin with long-term injury, we were sunk.

Both Ancelotti and Lampard realized we did not have the quality nor confidence to play possession football and they tried to change things with Carlo happily claiming he was not a magician and Frank failing miserably.

I won't mention the managers who should not have been allowed near our club but we know who they are.

Enter Dyche who has done more than anyone to restore confidence and establish a playing style that has purpose and identity.

It may not be everyone's cup of tea but, for me, it stabilizes us and gives us a platform to build on – especially in the light of the shenanigans surrounding the club, which Dyche has successfully shielded the players from.

Si Cooper
16 Posted 29/11/2023 at 23:48:14
Where you start from is the most important point when calling a manager merely a ‘survival' specialist.

Taking a squad of world beaters and making them play every game as if damage limitation is the aim is bad management.

Taking a squad of kamikaze specialists and getting them to stabilize their performances is very good management, even if the style of play doesn't appeal to the purists.

Has Sean Dyche ever had a squad of world-beaters to mould?

As for certain individuals playing instead of others, late or non-existent substitutions and other variables – whilst failings might be obvious, it can be very difficult to quantify what might have been ‘lost' by those choices.

Confirmation bias is certainly at play for some of the claims around how indisputable certain cause-and-effect observations are.

I treat the current manager like all before him. He gets my support whilst he is the incumbent and still looks likes he cares. I'm certainly not looking beyond the next few months in terms of a vote of confidence but neither am I agitating for a change in the near future.

Securing our position in the top flight is certainly ‘entertaining' enough for me no matter how it is delivered, especially if the current millstone around our necks is not removed as soon as possible.

Mike Gaynes
17 Posted 30/11/2023 at 02:12:24
Steve #9,

Ben Godfrey was not our Player of the Season 3 years ago. He was our Young Player of the Season, in a year where there was virtually no competition for the honor.

Ben has not demonstrated anything resembling "quality" since then. Defensively, yes he's fast and tenacious in the tackle, but he is positionally poor and cannot win a ball in the air, a combination that makes him non-viable at center-back. At full-back, he's almost as bad a passer as Holgate, and that's quite a statement.

And as for Dyche freezing him out after his injury and illness, sorry, but that's pure crapola. He played in nine straight games last spring, starting seven, and I'll bet you can't remember a single really good moment he showed in any of those games. Plus two of those starts came after his train wreck at Old Trafford. So Dyche stuck with him until he just couldn't anymore.

Lee Courtliff
18 Posted 30/11/2023 at 08:30:20
One of my Burnley mates met Ian Woan on holiday and asked about the baffling decision to avoid making subs until it was far too late.

Apparently, Dyche believes the best players are already on the pitch so making subs just weakens the team!!

I was told this in the pub, I have no idea how true it is. But I do know it's baffling and frustrating to watch as many, many Burnley fans told me long before I had to sit through it myself.

Ajay Gopal
19 Posted 30/11/2023 at 10:35:18
My opinion is that Dyche is the best manager we can have for the position we are presently in. Only my opinion of course.

He finds himself at Everton in a much worse condition than when Moyes joined. Relegation battles, star players sold to stay within PSR, paper-thin squad, injuries to key players (Calvert-Lewin, Coleman, Doucoure suspended during a crucial phase last season), an unprecedented points deduction, absent leadership… the list can go on.

He really is in an unenviable position, but he has not given up – he has taken things in his stride and is moving us forward step by step. He seems genuinely grateful for the opportunity to manage Everton, and irrespective of whether we stay up or go down, he deserves to be given time to stabilise the club and take us on the slow path to recovery.

Steve Hogan
20 Posted 30/11/2023 at 12:09:07
Mike (17)

Whether Godfrey was 'Young Player of The Season' or simply 'Player of The Season' is simply being pedantic. The fact is the guy had talent. A serious injury and suffering Covid has undoubtedly affected his game.

I'm saying that Dyche has seemingly written him off, unfairly in my view. Managers don't always get it right. Dyche stuck with Michael Keane, way after he should have done, in the same way he is fixated with Ashley Young, despite him stinking the game out repeatedly in recent weeks

ps: I thought Crapola was a breakfast cereal.

Phil Friedman
21 Posted 30/11/2023 at 19:55:27
Sorry, but Mike Gaynes is spot on…

Godfrey is not an acceptable center-back because he absolutely cannot leap off the ground. And the reason we are playing the dreaded ‘hoofball' is because none of the midfielders (except Garner) can accurately pass the ball.

As to the overall view about relegation, if any one of Pickford, Tarkowski, Branthwaite and Calvert-Lewin go out injured for a significant spell, we are doomed.

Mike Doyle
22 Posted 30/11/2023 at 20:41:05
Tony #7,

Sadly I agree with you.

We are reaching the point where the accumulation of yellow cards will see some of our regulars miss games (Branthwaite is 1 away from suspension I think) and/or the busy December programme produces injuries.

I’m also concerned about what happens if Calvert-Lewin cannot play as we are much more of a threat with him playing. I don't see either Beto or the other young lad as anything other than a poor replacement at present. Hope I'm wrong of course.

Si Cooper
23 Posted 01/12/2023 at 00:34:34
Lee (18) - ‘But I do know it's baffling and frustrating to watch.’

Why is the explanation you were given ‘baffling’? The likelihood of the benchwarmers being reliable is only going to get less likely the thinner your squad is.

The increase in subs / substitutions was driven by the wealthier clubs because their quality permeates further through their squads which are also better balanced.

It’s only going to be frustrating if you disagree with who the manager regards as his stalwarts and that is subjective.

Mike (22) and Tony (7), those were my thoughts as soon as our 10 points deduction was announced and why I was not as glib about it as others were at the time. I hope the others were right.

Ricky Oak
24 Posted 01/12/2023 at 05:41:12
The more sickening thing about all this imho is even now we are being played like fools,we've got a salt of the earth type straight manager, who fights Queesbury rules, in a streetfighting mma kind of battle.
The die is cast I fear, unless divine intervention, we're not trendy, cannot even buy the kit unless you know a player,even villa, wolves forest have somehow become more cool along with the toon loons it stinks, some already accept maybe a spell in lower league
is acceptable, out of top flight finally the one thing over every bugger we rule in,believing that it's not just as rigged in lower divisions, if by some miracle we do get brought by some equally powerful country suddenly, we then become complicit one of the bully boys to a n other club that's literally the symbol of working class people in this upside down fallen world, either Ipswich or Leicester are inline to take our place, We really only get allowed certain players certain managers, the last dynamic gamble was DM and even then he got turned as soon as it looked possible with a few quid we actually could be back,Ego got strokes ripped engine out of club then insult to injury DM never lasted a year so even our connection with the manager of the moment was globally ridiculed just in case we attracted any shine from that lot, still, fecked us up nicely again though. Even Carlo got humbled, imagine buck tooth Billyklippitys place got robbed whilst family were in,the FBI SAS etc would hunt down the perpetrators to be publicly
castigated while made to beg forgiveness from herr plop, not forced into a moonlight flit from the blooming country, we were green shoots again, speculating like every other flipping team, so to complete the blag, our most expensive player gets nobbled too.?
Even the fact that Evertonians are known to be the real heart of the city doesn't seem to help,seen as relics, lambs that will not go quietly into oblivion, which is again going to be used against us as progress inhibitors.
The blatant disregard been going so long now uncle Albert might as well been in charge, really galling how we behaved
honourable, open access etc, still accusations about violent headlocks and more, we were not the club that got English teams banned because of violence and yet how can anybody not feel like a tonne of bricks lands for any small mistake. Red cards unprecedented to any other teams for yonks now,others get allowed to be judged by this or that new directive or the ref is letting the game flow, actually remember one guy getting bitten ffs, even that though is forgotten or at worse a sign of the level of commitment elite players winners are allowed, kane got Duke banned right nasty timing for us, next match new directives, we turn or have turned on our own players simply because we are not allowed the top players or the top players see us as embarrassing,again all my opinion obviously.
It is sick making, this is way bigger than I thought possible and I do not have anyway of acceptance of this injustice, meanwhile even our dissection is merely after thoughts, old news already, moaning brits etc, ruffians that as gets pointed out have committed
the worst scandal ever according to the punishment, Everton had morals back when they would not be bullied into rent increase or whatever scandal at the time spawned that lot, who have to be respected at all times always, there has been more scandal and attention produced by one descion that went against them,then the actual death by a thousand cuts that's bleeding us out. Apologies for any offense to anyone for this drivel my one finger cannot keep up with my fuming mind had to cry at some point. Utft
Lee Courtliff
25 Posted 01/12/2023 at 06:52:14
Si, if you didn't think the second half against Brighton was "baffling and frustrating" then you were watching a different game to me!

Players obviously fatigued after 3 games in 6 days yet still no sub until very, very late on. After they'd equalised, obviously.

No reason at all why someone like Patterson couldn't have come on for the either Young or Harrison, who was clearly struggling, yet Dyche sticks with his favourites.

This has nothing to do with a smaller squad; this is what Dyche does. It's His Way.

I've watched him for 10 years at my hometown club, my family and friends are season ticket holders... they know him inside-out and they will all confirm this.

Si Cooper
27 Posted 02/12/2023 at 01:15:34

I deliberately separated the baffling from frustrating because one is knowledge-based based and the other is understanding-based.

You now know exactly why Dyche does what he does so it shouldn't be any sort of surprise that the manager isn't bringing on the second string even when you think he should. He simply doesn't see it as likely to change (for the better) what he's seeing on the pitch.

Not saying he's right, just that you now know what he's thinking.

I do think he had a ‘smaller' squad at Burnley when you are really only considering how far down the absolute top quality permeates.

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