Sean Dyche admits he is pleased with the improvements Everton's players have made during his tenure so far - but acknowledges there’s still plenty more work to be done.
The mood in the camp is high after the Blues followed up a battling point of the road away to Nottingham Forest by beating high-flying Brentford 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at Goodison Park.
The Bees came into the contest unbeaten in the Premier League since October - building a 12-match run in the process - but could not match the intensity of Dyche’s men who flew out the blocks and took an early lead when Abdoulaye Doucoure teed up Dwight McNeil to unleash a stunning opener from 25 yards.
Everton had several golden opportunities to extend their advantage before the break. While there was an element of frustration they couldn’t do so, Dyche was pleased to see the attacking output from his side continue on its recent upward trajectory.
Speaking to evertontv, the boss said: “It was a fine goal. We pressed early. Great calmness from Douc [Doucoure], who was excellent again.
“It was Alex [Iwobi] into Douc and Douc finding Dwight, and then what a finish. You need that sometimes. The pleasing thing over the last number of games is that we’ve been more effective.
“We’re going into the box with more of an edge to score a goal. We didn’t score again after the first, of course, but we’re creating more.
“We’re asking more questions of the opposition and I think that’s pleasing.”
Everton attempted nine shots in the opening 45 minutes; their most in the first half of a Premier League match this season. They also registered four of those efforts on target, another joint-league high for the campaign.
The visitors regrouped and responded in the second half, though, testing Everton’s defensive resolve. A dogged and impressive team effort without the ball, however, meant Jordan Pickford’s clean sheet remained intact.
“Look, they were unbeaten in 12,” explained Dyche. “They’re no mugs and they’re having a great season. We expected them to have a reaction.
“Really, the secret is to not give them a chance to react, and we gave them too many. We gave the ball away cheaply, we could’ve been calmer and kept the ball better.
“We’re a work in progress; the league table says that. We’re constantly working on improvements. I think there have been improvements in the attacking side of the game, and the ways we can operate to be more effective.”
Dyche added” “On the defensive side, it’s another clean sheet, and we’re doing the hard yards. There’s no lack of effort there. We just lost our way a little bit, but I’ll certainly take the three points, and take the positives from it.”
The win saw Everton climb up to 15th place in the Premier League table, another big positive. Yet, Dyche was keen to taper emotions and reinforce to his players there is still plenty more work to be done.
"I said to the players that we have to continue to take responsibility,” he added. "That involves taking chances as well. I want the freedom for them to take them, but when they’re there, you’ve got to take them.
“The mentality was good, and it was strong. It’s just another step, that’s all it is. It’s an enjoyable step but it’s just another step.
“There’s plenty of steps that we’ve got to continue taking. I said it after the Arsenal game [1-0 victory at Goodison] and I’m saying it now.”