Sean Dyche has called for unity across Everton as he looks to guide the Blues back up the Premier League table.
Dyche will take charge of Everton for the first time this Saturday afternoon when the Toffees welcome Premier League leaders Arsenal to Goodison Park (12.30pm GMT).
The new boss is all too aware of the challenge ahead but believes a united club can provide him, his staff and players with the best platform in which to overcome the obstacles ahead of them.
"We want the fans to play their part," explained Dyche in his first press conference as manager on Thursday. "It is choppy waters, but we want the fans to reconnect with that. I've got to earn my spurs and I'm willing to put the hard yards in to earn their respect.
"Wins are those marvellous things in football that seem to solve things, but you have to earn that. You might get a lucky 1-0 win now and again but you don't want to build on luck. For me, it's about the heartbeat of the team and club.
"Reminding them of the players they are. You don't get to be an Everton player without laying some markers down in your career as individuals and as a team. I think there is technical prowess here.”
Dyche continued: "We have to unify. We have to. Even the most disgruntled Evertonians at the moment, if they give us a chance to stick by the team.
“The energy changes very quickly when players feel that intensity and support. Just give us a window to breathe, support and play a part in that."
You can find the full transcript of the press conference below.
Sean, good to see you. I take it you have had a good welcome from the likes of Michael Keane, James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil?
It’s been a really good welcome from all the staff and players. I know a bit about the feel of the Club from being here and visiting here but it’s true. The staff have been very open to us being here, so it’s not just been those players mentioned. I’ve had a good reaction so far to what we’ve been trying to do in the early parts of our careers here.
How have the first few days gone, what have you been working on with the players and what have you learnt?
They’ve been open-minded, and very honest about the challenge. What it has been and what it is now. We did a feedback session on that, and I was happy with the players' honesty. I think there’s a desire to put things right, which is relevant.
They know there’s an adaption period for what we want to do, but all these stories about me making them do yo-yo tests is nonsense.
It’s just a scientific test, one of many that we do. I know the physical markers in the Premier League. It’s one of a few different tests that I do. I explained that to the players.
It wasn’t me getting a feeling of other managers that had come before, I have total respect for Frank and his staff. I am sure they worked very hard here.
I can only share a view of how I want to do things and not question others.
What is the assessment of the challenge you face here?
I don’t think that was rocket science, everyone knows it's to get out of the situation. It is what it is, the team are where they are, and the league doesn’t lie.
I am not obsessed with league tables. I like the one at the end of the season, as long as you're in the right part of it. We are there for a reason and now it’s about correcting it.
The biggest thing for me is the alignment, going from the top right the way through to the fans, we have to make sure that is there.
That starts with me, the players, the staff - we have to be aligned because we are the team behind the team. Then we have got to make the team go out and perform.
At the end of the day, you have to win games and get points on the board.
What can you tell us about why the Club was not able to bring in signings across those last few days of the window?
Firstly, I can assure you there was plenty of hard work. From myself, Kevin Thelwell and other senior people.
Kev was on the phone constantly, I can assure you. I was there and I saw it all. But a couple of things about the playing options, firstly you have to align them. All parties have to say yes, you have to get to that situation.
All parties have to say yes, but likewise, something that often gets overviewed, they have to be better than what we have got here.
We have got some very, very good players here. Talented players who may have lost their way. We can debate why things are the way they are, but there are very talented players here.
I have never been one to sign players for the sake of signing them. If you have a young player who you think can develop into this style of player and this level, then that is different.
But when you are talking about players just coming straight into the team, then they better be good players. Because I believe there are good players here.
Of course, our job is to help them, polish them up a bit. Maybe give them a different way to look at things, and give them the freedom to go and play. Amongst the framework to be strong as a unit.
But my point is, I am not going to sign players just for the sake of it without ever seeing them again.
They need to impact what we are doing and be good enough to do that, otherwise there’s no point. But we did work very hard, and we are doing all we can to find the players who can help.
Anthony Gordon left the Club, and it was accepted there were going to be further additions before he left, so is it an issue there wasn’t a replacement?
That sale was before I came in. Trying to react is different as you don’t know what money is coming in until after the deal.
Then we had to look for players available for that price range. Of course, there’s a list of players, Club recruitment departments know the runners and riders.
There is an odd bit of gold you can find, a young player or a developing player. But generally, you’re trying to find players who can affect the group. There are already very good players here who perhaps aren’t performing at the level they can do at this moment in time, but that’s my job and that of the staff to remind them what good players they are.
The way you are talking, you don’t seem to feel let down about any recruitment decisions?
What promises can you make in recruitment? They are human beings, it takes everyone to align, it is as simple as that.
You can make as many promises as you want, but at the end of the day, people have got to align with what the deal is because they are literally signing that deal to be part of the Club.
I don’t speak about players at other clubs, you know me, I don’t do that. But it’s fair to say there were lots of phone calls and offers put in, but they didn’t get to the place we wanted to be for whatever reason. That’s the way it sometimes goes.
Can you talk about free agents?
Being totally disrespectful to football and the industry it is, sometimes those players are without a club for a reason.
You do get the odd bit of gold, like I have said, we are looking at the market, and we are aware of the players out there. But again, they have to be able to impact what we do. That’s the biggest one for me. It’s not just about money, it’s about bringing in players who can affect what you can do.
I have been a big believer in that for many years, as you know.
We have to throw one name at you. Isco, any chance?
As I said, there is a list of players that we’ll be looking through. Do they fit what we need, do they fit what we can do, do they fit what we need to achieve going forward and can they do it pretty quickly.
Because you sign players for the future, that’s different. But let’s face it, we need players that are going to activate now.
So the first protocol is in-house. What have we got in-house, can we make sure that we’re ready for the task in front of us.
How fit and ready then is someone like Dominic Calvert-Lewin to really be the focal point of your attack and to recapture the kind of form that took him into the England squad?
He’s had his ups and downs with his fitness, I’m aware of that. Getting him truly fit and his body strong enough is going to be the key. I’ve spoken to him, I think he’s a lot closer than he thought he was.
Obviously, he’s an important player, but there’s lots of important players here.
It’s not just him, but with his scoring record here and his level of performance not so long ago before the injuries hit him. He’s a very good player without a doubt.
Anyone else nearing a comeback? James Garner, Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane?
Ben Godfrey is closer. Michael Keane is getting fitter and trying. Garner is going to be a little bit yet.
How do you feel about your first game as Everton manager against Arsenal?
I’m excited. I’m aware of the recent noise around the Club and all that sort of stuff.
I don’t know everything about Evertonians, I’m learning. I’m learning about the reasons why there’s some noise around the Club, in depth reasons rather than just what I’ve read.
But the one thing I know about the Evertonians is that they stand by their club, they protect it and look after it, and that’s what I need now.
I need that as a manager, my staff and my players need that. I need that full support that’s for sure. Looking into the first game, I think that’s going to be really important as a starting point, before the ball even rolls.
We’ve been working very hard on the training pitch, trying to cram a lot in with the players about the culture and the environment. Trying to realign what we think, I remind you, what we think is important.
Not questioning anyone before me remotely, what I and we as a group think. Some of the consistent beliefs in what we think between us and then taking that onto the pitch.
So we provide that and we want the fans to give us a chance to provide it for them and to support us amongst all of the noise.
It’s easy to take the will of a ship in calm water, not so much when it’s choppy waters. We want the fans to play their part in that. It is choppy waters, there’s no denying it.
The Club’s not where it wants to be, but we want the fans to join in with us and we want the fans to reconnect with us. It’s easy to say, I’ve got to earn my spurs, of course, I totally understand that.
I’m a bit of a marmite manager anyway, not everyone wants you. But at the end of the day, you have to earn your spurs and I’m willing to put the hard yards in to earn that, to earn their respect.
I want the players to remind themselves, some have earned that respect but you have to remind yourself that you have to do that.
We’ve got to give of course. We want them to support from the off and that would be fantastic if they can get their hearts back on the sleeve. Even the ones that have got angles, problems or questions about the Club. If they can just park it for a little while, get behind us and hopefully reconnect with us.
Watch back Sean Dyche's first #EFC press conference in full.— Everton (@Everton) February 2, 2023
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Wins I suppose would be another way of pulling things together?
Yeah, of course. Wins, they’re marvellous things in football. They seem to solve everything.
Everything seems a whole lot better when you’re winning, but yet again, you have to earn that.
No one gives you it. You might get lucky one now and again, but let’s face it, you don’t really want to build on luck. You want to build on hard work, good performances, pride, passion, the will and desire of a team to win, and then later on technical, tactical understanding and all of the rest of it.
But really for me, it’s the heartbeat of the team and the heartbeat of a club, and we’ve got to remind ourselves that there’s a strong heart for Evertonians, I know that, been here many times.
We’ve got to provide that strong heart as a team, and a group of people [who] all knows point in the right direction.
What is the key message you have been trying to get across to your players?
I think it’s about reminding them of the players that they are because I have looked at their histories and I remind them of that.
I said, ‘you don’t get to where you are in football, you don’t get to be an Everton player without laying some markers in your own career as individuals and as a team.’
Alongside that, some of the basic principles that I think we want to work on. I remind you again, we want to build here.
Some of the ways that we want the team to imprint their belief in each other and the trust in each other, mapped out in a team format quite obviously.
I think there is technical prowess here. I think we can share a twist and a tweak on the base that they work from. I think that’s going to be important.
Some of them know those obvious things, I tested the players to see where they are at physically.
I tested them in another way of profiling the players, see about learning styles. We look at what they have been doing, how they have been playing, the best slots that players can fit in to be productive.
And try to cram that in four days work because they need a day off, they’re human beings. You can’t just be out there every day, all day. It just doesn’t work like that.
So, a lot of information has been shared this week. A lot about the culture and the environment that I expect, we’ve got to earn that over time and build it, but we have to fast track it.
Trying to fast track all these different things into a very short period of time. Bit of a longer week, next week with the players because of the fixtures. But we’ve got to start the process which we have done.
Like I said, the players have been very receptive so far. Big Brother cameras are on of course, we’re all on our best behaviour, but so far there’s been a good response to what we think.
On creating the unity and positive atmosphere around the Club, is there anything you can do, besides winning matches, that the players can do to try and reconnect with the fanbase?
You earn that.
I’ve never thought of any other way. As I got older in the games as a player as well, I think some managers might get a head start, some players get a head start because of the preloaded view.
I don’t think I’ve ever asked for a head start. I think I’ve earned the right to be part of a football club and I know it’s a proud football club with big history.
I’ve got to earn my part of it and I’m willing to put the hard yards in for that, make no mistake.
I don’t expect anything other than if they can just give us a chance. Give us the support, which I know is there. I’ve been in there when it’s absolutely rocking, I can assure you, which is interesting when you’re on the other side of it so I’m hoping we can build some of that. It’s interesting walking around the ground when you drop your car off, that’s always been good fun.
I’ve had a bit of fun with Evertonians when I’ve been here scouting. It’s always been good natured it must be said.
I want that atmosphere, but we have to come our way. I have to come my way as manager.
The message is clear, unity. We have to unify, we have to. It’s a given.
Even the most disgruntled Evertonians at the moment, if they can just give us a chance to stick by the team because they are important, they’re very important fans in football.
Players respond to fans, the energy changes very quickly when players fell that intensity of pressure, and now the pressure lifts.
Now all of a sudden, they feel this backing and this support. We need that backing and support. I do, my staff do, and my players do. We need it.
So, I’m just reaching out to them and say, ‘we’ll give you our honesty. We’ll give you our work ethic. We’ll give everything we can. All we ask back is just give us a window to allow us a chance to breathe, as I call it. To get ourselves going and please play a part in supporting that.’
How much of an advantage is it that you’ve been in a similar position in the past with Burnley?
I don’t think you’ve got magic dust. It comes from hard work from all. Not just from me, I have to guide it. I have to lead it because I’m the manager.
All areas of staff, the players inevitably, they’re the ones that turn it round. I’ve always said that.
The players are the main focus to turn things around, but I have to guide that and I am more than happy to take on that responsibility with my staff of course.
Share the view and make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure we look after ourselves. One thing I’ve learnt is that, the other thing is often it comes down to literal sheer hard graft.
We can talk about tactics and everything, of course they are important, but you’ve got to be aware to put the graft in to deliver the tactics.
Brave is a funny word. I’m not just on about tackles, I’m on about the bravery to receive the ball, bravery to deal with the ball. I’m talking about that.
Not just literal physical work, I’m talking about organisation, showing your ability, but it usually starts with hard work of all kinds.
Hard work the analysts, the medics, the scientists, on the training pitch. All geared up to winning games. That’s from my experience of being in the Premier League.
Next chapter loading. 🔋— Everton (@Everton) January 30, 2023
Any person who takes on a new job considers the pros and cons of the that job. Did you, given the noise and the circumstances, have any reservations? Did you think long and hard about whether to take this job?
Well, behind the outside noise is a fantastic football club.
A club that means a lot to the fans, it means a lot to the people, it means a lot to football. It’s been around a long time.
Possibly if it wasn’t in the shape it is, I wouldn’t get the chance. I don’t mind that. If they deem my skillset to deliver this, then I’ll deliver it.
I view it slightly differently. I’ve had a long time playing, a long time at different clubs. For me, you’re a custodian. I’m a custodian of the Football Club. I’m not going to be here forever. I said that about Burnley.
I wouldn’t be there forever, but while I’m here, I’ll look after it and I’ll make sure it’s in good hands, I’ll make sure it’s given every chance in every way I can work to help for it to be successful.
One thing I notice is that the heartbeat of this club is important, and I’ve certainly got that. I’ve got a big heart, so that’s not a bad start.
You were at Burnley for nine years and had a very successful time there. It wasn’t just about fighting relegation; it was about the achievements further up the table as well. Given the noise and the difficulties you find yourself in with half a season to go, would saving Everton from relegation be your biggest achievement?
I’m not bothered about achievements at this time. Achievements are getting the thing pointing in the right direction. That’s an achievement as a starting point.
You’ve got to win games. That’s the next achievement. You’ve got to win enough games, don’t forget. It’s not just winning one game. One game doesn’t change everything. You want to get your first win as soon as possible.
That’s obvious. Achievements are for me to reflect on way down the line. I don’t sit there thinking of all the things we did at Burnley.
I can’t remember the last time I got involved in that. There will be a point in my life where I sit back and go “I’m done. I’m finished,” and then I will reflect on all those good times. That’s not for me now. It’s about building. It’s about getting on with what needs doing now, and I’ll reflect upon it another day.
How do you feel about playing Arsenal in your first game in charge?
They’re a very good side. Obviously, people are talking about them winning the title, so that stands for itself.
People always say, it’s the oldest one in the book, but you’ve got to play everyone, and so the way the fixtures fall is just one of those things.
They’re having a very good time of it at the moment, but I think they’ve known us long enough from my previous club. I think they’ll know that I usually put out a team that are ready for the challenge, so I wouldn’t imagine that they’re underestimating the strength of our challenge.
Can you just talk to us a bit about your backroom staff?
Well, Woany has been with me for a long time. Steve Stone, as well.
We’re friends from kids but we’re all different characters, so when I put the staff together, including Tony Loughlan previously. We’re all different characters.
That’s the idea. Not everyone can sing to my song sheet. I want input, I want direct feedback. I don’t want flannel. If I ask them a question, I want to hear an honest answer, and not the answer I want to hear. They’re good at that.
They know me and they know how I work. From sports science, Mark Howard has come in to operate with the group. There’s a good group here. Again, he knows how I work, knows the expectation, knows how to deliver information, knows he doesn’t have to flannel me. He just needs to tell me what we need to do. That’s why they’re here.
They’re good people and very experienced people at this level of football.
In April, as Burnley manager playing against Everton, you said at half-time that you didn’t think the Everton team knew how to win a game. What have you seen this week to change your view on that?
Yes, well I cleared that up afterwards, and I cleared that up again with Frank Lampard. I phoned him up directly. It was misinterpreted.
I’d been through those stages. Sometimes there are nerves and a feeling of a win coming gets the better of you. Absolute zero disrespect to Frank and his team at that time. We’ve got to teach them how to win, and we’ve got to play our part in that.
There’s a reasonably mature group here. There are a few younger players but they’re reasonably mature. They know the feeling of how to win a game. There are certain things we feel we can help with that, but usually it’s because of your confidence, because you’re playing well, and that inner feeling within the group.
We’ve got to build that, but equally you can get a lucky goal, a scruffy one, and everything just drops back into place. You can only educate so far, but eventually, you’ve got to get one over the line.
When you get one over the line, it’s amazing how quickly people drop into starting to understand how to win again. That’s what I meant.
I’ve been in spells where you can smell it on your team that they’re not quite there, and they’re desperate for the final whistle. I understand why it comes around, but it’s just correcting it, and it’s not easy to correct it. Like I said, sometimes it’s a twist of fate. You might get a couple of lucky decisions or a lucky goal.
Of course, you don’t want it by a twist of fate. You want it by design, and that’s our job; to design a way that we can get a win, and then create that winning environment, that winning atmosphere, and that knowledge of how to see games through.
What can you do to lift the confidence of the team while you’re here?
I suppose that’s one for the players, but we can add a healthy and positive feel to what we’re trying to do. There’s a new voice, new training ways, and we try to build a bit of rapport.
I’ve had a good chat with a few of the players, and I don’t mean sitting in the office. We’ve just been sitting and chatting generally about their careers, about their lives, about how they are, what they’re feeling, and just trying to build that bit of rapport with them.
If you affect the person, you’ll affect their performance. I’ll always try to build rapport and honesty with the group. We had a question-and-answer session with the group about what they thought. There was complete anonymity.
I wasn’t interested in who said what. I just wanted their feedback. Once we got that, I said: “This is what you gave me. What do you think?” We need to get to the truth of them, we need to get to the truth of what I can offer, and sometimes it’s best to ask them.
So, I did. In answer to your question, it’s just giving our feel to what it is. It’s just a different feel to other managers. Hopefully, they’ll respond to that, and flourish from it. We need to work as well. There’s plenty of hard work that’s gone into this week. That’s for sure.
The second half of last season at Burnley didn’t end the way you would’ve hoped it to.
Well, it didn’t end with me. I wasn’t there. Just thought I’d clear that up in case you’d forgotten.
Is there anything you can take from that experience into this job?
Completely different thing. Previous seasons, yes. The same season as the Europa League season, we were on 12 points after 19 games. I remember how we turned that around. That’s useful. Last season there was a change of ownership, change of group.
Is there anything from your time out the game that you can take into the new job?
Some good gigs. No, really, I reflected on myself and what I had to offer. I started the process just before the World Cup where I started getting more involved again. I spoke to football people and businesspeople.
I like that crossover. I had a good break for a while, and then picked it all up around two or three weeks before the World Cup.
I couldn’t go to games. I don’t like the idea of turning up to games when another manager is under pressure. That’s not for me.
My son plays as well, so I tried to go to his games. I watched a lot of the World Cup, obviously. I got Christmas out the way, and I hadn’t had a normal, open Christmas since I was 16. After that, the feeling came flooding back in, and so when this job came up, it was a yes all the way.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has had injury problems over the last 18 months, how important is it going to be to look after his fitness from now until the end of the season?
One player doesn’t make a team, that’s for sure, but of course he’s a good player. There are other good players.
We want to find a style that they can all fit into. We’re aware the goal count isn’t high as you want. We’ve got to be better at both ends of the pitch.
The two boxes are always the most important thing, so that’s certainly a focus.
Are you worried about your lack of attacking players?
We’re not worried. It is what it is. We are where we are.
Managing the situation is always what I’ve believed in. I know the situation. The window’s shut. This is who we are, and these are the players we have, and I explained that to the players.
But equally, I showed them their past, and there are some unbelievable stories here, trust me, about how they’ve got to this level of football, and about their lives.
That’s a powerful thing, so adding that into a group, and adding that connectivity; that’s as powerful as anything and as powerful as one player.