Category: Everton

Can Sean Dyche Save Everton?

At the time of writing, things are looking rather perilous for Everton in terms of their Premier League survival. Just past the halfway point of their league campaign, the Toffees have amassed a mere 15 points from their 20 games. Currently in 19th position on 15 points, they are only above rock-bottom Southampton on goal difference.

Premier League Table Feb 2nd 2023

The board acted to sack Frank Lampard and bring in a replacement in the form of Sean Dyche. The question is, can the former Burnley man keep Everton in the top flight, or is the task already insurmountable?

We’ll get to the question of whether Dyche will pull off a successful Houdini mission shortly, but first, let’s take a brief look at who Sean Dyche is and why he’s qualified to lead Everton’s charge for survival.

Who Is Sean Dyche?

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Sean Mark Dyche was born in Kettering in 1971 and began his football career as a youth at Nottingham Forest who were then managed by the late, great Brian Clough. He never made it to the Forest first team, but moved to Chesterfield and played over 200 times, scoring eight goals between 1990 and 1997. He played at centre back for several clubs over the following decade including Millwall, Watford and Northampton Town, before retiring and moving into coaching.

He got his first job as the under-18 coach at former club Watford, then got promoted to assistant manager under Malky Mackay in 2009. A couple of years later, Mackay left the club and Dyche got the nod to fill the manager’s role. Dyche led Watford to a top-half finish in the Championship, but – as has become the Watford way in recent times – the club gave him the axe.

Dyche wasn’t out of a job for long though and he replaced Eddie Howe as the Burnley boss in September. He stayed there for almost a decade and guided the side to the Premier League after finishing second in the Championship in the 2013/14 season. It was tough in the top flight for the relative minnows Burnley and they promptly got relegated, but the Burnley board kept the faith with Dyche.

He repaid their confidence by leading the club back to the Premier League the following season by winning the Championship title. They spent the next six seasons in the top flight and even qualified for Europe thanks to their league placing in 2017/18. Sadly for them and Dyche, they got relegated at the end of the 2021/22 season, though the boss was shown the door a month before the season concluded.

Team From / To Games Won Drew Lost
Watford 21/06/11
06/07/12
49 17 (34.7%) 17 (34.7%) 15 (30.6%)
Burnley 30/10/12
15/04/22
425 149 (35.1%) 118 (27.8%) 158 (37.2%)

On the face of it, win percentages of around 35% are not going to install a great deal of confidence in the many nervous Everton fans who fear for their club. But then Lampard only managed a win percentage of 27.3% in his time at Goodison, so it would at least be an improvement on that. And if you convert the win and draw percentages into possible points per game (ignoring the fact that some of those were cup games), Dyche would have earned an average of 1.33 points per game for Burnley. In his time as Everton boss, Lampard earned the equivalent of just a single point per game (and even less than that based on the current league campaign). The question is, even if Dyche does better than Lampard, will it be enough to save Everton?

What Are Everton’s Chances of Surviving in the Premier League?

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If the bookies are to be believed, Everton’s days in the top flight are somewhat numbered and they are odds-on to be playing in the Championship next term. But football sure is a funny old game and bookies’ odds have been very wrong on numerous occasions (just ask Leicester fans about that!).

With 18 games remaining (at the time of writing) and with just 15 points on the board, it seems likely the Toffees will require at least another 20 points to have even a chance of staying up. Even that would only put Everton on 35 points, which – coincidentally – was how many Burnley managed last term then they were relegated. But it would have been more than enough the season before when just 29 points were required for survival.

Looking at the last six seasons, 35 points would have been enough to survive in all but one of the relegation scraps.

Minimum Number of Points Required to Avoid Relegation from the Premier League

  • 2021/22 – 36
  • 2020/21 – 29
  • 2019/20 – 35
  • 2018/19 – 35
  • 2017/18 – 34
  • 2016/17 – 35

Indeed, if Dyche is able to perform as well for Everton as he did on average at Burnely, earning 1.33 points per game, the Toffees will be in with a decent chance of staying up. Following that trend would give Everton an additional 23.94 points from their remaining 18 games, but let’s be generous and round it up to 24 points, to give a grand total of 39 points by the end of the season. A team hasn’t been relegated with 39 points on the board since Birmingham City in the 2010/11 campaign. So come on, Everton fans, there’s real cause for optimism, right?

Dyche: Savior or Desperate Measure?

Time will tell whether Sean Dyche is able to guide Everton to safety in the coming weeks and months. But having kept a club the size of Burnley in the Premier League for so long against the odds, we think he certainly has as good a chance as anyone. Oh, it might not be a good idea to mention to Everton fans which team Dyche supported as a child (hint: they play in red!).

Why Are Everton So Bad?

Everton are objectively and historically one of the biggest clubs in English football. Only three clubs have won the top-flight league title more times than the Toffees and only two have appeared in the semi finals of the FA Cup more often. They have appeared in more top-flight seasons than any other club and were founder members of both the Football League and the Premier League.

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But at the time of writing Everton are very much in a relegation battle and have just exited the FA Cup in the third round stage, their first hurdle. They were in a relegation battle last season (2021/22) and will surely be in one this term. They have not finished in the top half of the Premier League since 2018/19 and have finished no better than seventh since 2013/14.

These poor results have come against the backdrop of what many Evertonians wanted for so long: a big-money takeover. In 2016, almost exactly seven years ago, Farhad Moshiri purchased 49.9% of the club, increasing his holding to almost 69% by September 2018. Since then they have spent lavishly on players, to the tune of around £600m. And yet they have got worse! So the question is, just why are Everton so bad?

Bad Signings

We don’t have space to list the litany of wasted money under Moshiri but early “highlights” include Yannick Bolasie (£25m, two goals in 32 appearances, left on a free transfer), who admittedly was unlucky with injury, and Davy Klaasen (£24m, seven appearances, sold for around £12m). The Toffees also spent around £28m on Cenk Tosun, a striker who managed nine goals over five seasons before leaving for nothing when his contract expired.
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There were some good signings too, such as Lucas Digne and Richarlison but both of those have since left the club with only a modest profit made. Idrissa Gueye was bought for around £7m and sold to PSG for £30m in a rare bit of good business and has since re-joined the Toffees. Jordan Pickford was a fine addition too, as was Dominic Calvert-Lewin for just £1.5m.

But the many misses far outweigh all of that, with Theo Walcott (£20m), Alex Iwobi (£27m) and Jean-Philippe Gbamin (£22m) all failing to deliver on the huge fees paid for them. Everton have had some bad luck with injuries to the likes of Bolasie and Gbamin, but ultimately their expenditure has often seemed untargeted and had an air of panic to it.

Wrong Managers

Time will tell if Frank Lampard can turn Everton around, if he is given the chance, but there is no doubt the club have made some odd managerial appointments. Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was always doomed to fail given the fans’ hatred of the “fat Spanish waiter” and the verdict on Sam Allardyce was not much better. Once again the board may point to a little bad luck in that the one man who did seem a good appointment, Carlo Ancelotti, was tempted back to Real Madrid when it seemed he was taking the club forward.

The Board

For a while now the ire of the fans has chiefly been reserved for the board rather than the players or manager. Moshiri is damned as being uncommunicative, whilst another criticism is that there is a “jobs for the boys” attitude and too much self-interest. On the one hand, Moshiri has put his money where his mouth is but ultimately the buck always has to stop at the top, so he must shoulder at least a large portion of the “blame”.

Are Everton really that bad?

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Spending £600m on poor players and seemingly moving backwards is clearly not a good look. But there are many fans in English football who would look at Everton and query the verdict of “so bad” from the title of this feature. Since 2006/07 they have finished 6th, 5th, 5th, 8th, 7th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 11th, 11th, 7th, 8th, 8th, 12th, 10th and 16th.

The current 2022/23 season is a worry and the last three were poor but prior to that finishes of 8th (twice) and 7th (in 2016/17) were not too far away from their average over the past two decades or so. It should be remembered that their best-ever PL finish, fourth, came in 2005 and a year earlier they were 17th, whilst the following season they finished 11th.

The current direction of travel and mood around the club is not great but recent signings have been better, on the whole. If they can survive this campaign there is reason to believe they can get back to being top-half regulars. Whether that “if” proves too big, time will tell …

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