Sean Dyche insists Everton must continue working towards the right “blend of a total performance” after assessing the best and worst of the Blues’ spirited 2-0 defeat at Manchester City on Saturday afternoon.
The Toffees came into the clash at the Etihad boasting the fourth best defensive record in the top-flight, and highlighted the undoubted strides made under Dyche by frustrating Pep Guardiola’s men for large periods with a disciplined and committed display.
That included being the first team to prevent City from having a shot on target in a home top-flight game in the opening 45 minutes since August 2022. As it was, the hosts ended up having just two, both from Erling Haaland ending up in the back of the net on 70 and 85 minutes to leave Everton empty-handed.
Dyche praised the work of his players and coaching staff in restricting the reigning league, European and world champions - but conceded his team must be better going forward with the ball and in their decision-making to progress further.
“The details are in the transition and offensive side of the game, we were a long way off that today,” admitted Dyche, who also told evertontv he is hopeful Abdoulaye Doucoure will be fit again for next Monday’s home encounter with Crystal Palace, while Ben Godfrey was forced off at the Etihad due to sickness and should be available to face the Eagles.
“I have to be truthful about that because on the defensive side, we were very, very good: the organisation, the tactical elements which the coaches and players have delivered this week which we did well.
“Within that, the key to a total performance is how many times you can transition that when you go into offensive mode. That can be difficult when you are working so hard defensively. Playing and being effective with the ball is the biggest challenge of all.
“We found the odd moment but we gave the ball away too cheaply and didn’t find the right pass when we were in good areas. It’s a big challenge to get that right here against [Manchester City] but that’s the challenge for the rest of the season.”
Dyche added: “The defensive side to our season has been very good. Our chance count in general has been high. It’s just about sticking with it. You look at how well they do it and that’s the blend we’re still searching for. By no means are we trying to model our game on Man City, we are modelling our thinking on the modern game and trying to find that blend. There’s been signs of it this season.”
The corner which led to City’s opener was debatable, with Everton players including James Tarkowski adamant Dominic Calvert-Lewin did not get the final touch before the ball went out of play.
Dyche insisted decisions like that rarely go for away sides, and instead called on the Blues to retain the belief in the strides they have made this season, irrespective of their league position after this weekend’s round of matches.
“Games like this, you don’t get those decisions,” added the Blues boss. “There were a number of soft decisions today, I’m not going to keep harping on about it.
“Our focus all along has been to keep the belief in what we are doing, particularly after the news of the 10-point deduction. The focus has to be on what we’re doing.
“We have to stay steadfast to what we’re doing. It’s important we remind ourselves of some of our good performances, look to what we have to do, but I think there’s been a lot on show that has been good.”