Sean Dyche is hopeful the return of key players after the international break and lessons learnt from their opening four matches will help his “hungry” Everton side start collecting the results their performances have deserved.
After seeing off Doncaster Rovers in the Carabao Cup last Wednesday, the Blues picked up their first Premier League point of the new season on Saturday with a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Sheffield United.
Everton trailed at the break in the Bramall Lane contest but Arnaut Danjuma struck a deserved equaliser 10 minutes into the second period, with Dyche's men just falling short of victory as they pushed for a winner.
Despite waiting for a first league win of 2023/24, the Blues have dominated all but one of their matches so far in terms of chances created, compiling an impressive xG (expected goals metric to show the probability of scoring) that was the second best in the division across last weekend.
And Dyche explained why he is confident the team will start delivering the results their performances have warranted, especially as the squad numbers swell with players coming back from injuries over the international break.
That is expected to include striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin from the facial injury sustained at Aston Villa last month, defender Michael Keane and summer signing Jack Harrison, while Dwight McNeil made a late substitute appearance at Sheffield United following his recovery from an ankle problem picked up in pre-season.
"When we get everyone fit, the squad does look deeper and it looks more rounded," said the Blues boss to evertontv. "You don’t want to go too low with numbers, of course, because of the demands of the game in the Premier League but having that kind of edge where everyone can be involved and everyone has an edge to play.
"I think we’ve tried to construct that through some testing times financially. Trying to construct that mixture of age, experience and belief in what we do as a unit, but also that freshness of some players who are slightly younger with that hunger, the desire to be at the Football Club.
“That hasn’t proved in wins yet, but I believe it has in performances, and I believe this a group who will get hungrier and hungrier to get those wins and keep progressing, and that’s what we want.
"[Over the break] we have to make sure we keep them active and fit, and we have to give them some rest time. Obviously, the Arsenal game has been put back a day, so hopefully some of the international players will get an extra day when they come back.
"People forget it’s amazing to play for your country, of course, but it still is active time, where the other players get a few down days and a bit of rest.
"That’s still important. They know they’ll be working; they know that. They’ll get a few days off and then the internationals will be back in the group, and hopefully a few of the injured players will be back in the group, and some game time in between to make sure those injuries are clear and ready for the game and the next challenge."
Dyche also believed it was important to acknowledge the recent social media post from attacker Demarai Gray regarding his future.
"It’s an unfortunate one because I try to keep our business in-house,” he explained. "I think on this occasion, it's right to reply.
"Demarai made it clear that he felt he was getting a move [away from Everton] and he told us a move was done, which was interesting to hear from a player. We reminded him of the truth of the fact that no moves are done without this club’s say so. That’s the truth of it.
"We look after these players; we look at all the different ways of looking after them. Mental and wellbeing is big, the tactics and technical, the physical. We look at all of that for all these players and we look after them.
"When it comes to a time like that then you go, 'Well, hang on a minute. You made it clear you didn’t want to train, you didn’t want to be here, and you also said there was a move that was a done deal’.
"We said it’s not a done deal because this club is the most important. This club will make decisions on the future of you as players and not the other way around. I think it’s right to let our fans know that’s the truth."
Dyche added: "We all took a step forward by getting over the line last season. This season, I’m still earning my spurs. We haven’t got a win yet – I’m not naive, I know that. We’ve played well but we haven’t got a win.
“There are always question marks, but one thing I know from a lifetime in football is that while I’m a manager, I’m a custodian. And while I’m here, the badge, the people and the Club will always be above everyone – the players, the staff, myself. That’s why I have to make sure we’re clear at this point in time.
“The custodian side of things is important – looking after the Club and leaving it in a better place. Come what may, I think we’re beginning to do that, but of course, while you’re doing that, you have to win games and that’s still the focus amongst all of these other things, and keeping that unity from off the pitch into the fanbase, the belief and, being clear again, the badge, the people, the Club - that is always the bigger picture for me.”