Everton manager Sean Dyche met with the media earlier today ahead of his return to Burnley where he spent a decade in charge. The gaffer is looking forward to going to his former club at the weekend and joked that he will head to see some old friends at The Royal Dyche pub.
Dyche is making his first return to Turf Moor after being relieved of his duties in 2021. This will be his second meeting against Burnley this year after recording a victory over his former employer in the Carabao Cup.
The match against Burnley would have Everton as the bookies favourite but Dyche was very quick to quell that notion:
“I would hope the players, without any influence from me, in the past couple of seasons will know that you have to respect everybody in the Premier League. I think that’s growing here.
“Certainly, the idea of complacency should be off the table. I think it is. I think the players are continually learning everything you have to do to win games in the Premier League. We’re bringing a more defined awareness to them – on details of a game and the details of a performance, and I think we’re delivering that better and better.”
Dyche has to contend with the suspensions for both Idrissa Gueye and Jarad Branthwaite who are missing the match for five accumulated yellow cards. Gana left the match at half time and the obvious replacement was Amadou Onana who put in an excellent shift and used the match as good first step back after his recent calf injury. The gaffer confirmed that Onana should be fit to start tomorrow.
Replacing Jarad Branthwaite is somewhat more difficult because of the possible replacements available. Michael Keane missed the game against Chelsea with a minor knock, but resumed full training on Thursday according to Dyche. Keane looks to be in contention although Ben Godfrey is a more likely option. Without revealing his hand completely, he had this to say:
“There’s an honesty in football and from Ben and Keano to look and go: ‘they are playing well’, which they are. Therefore waiting for your chance and taking it when it comes, they’re two professionals, they look after themselves so they’ll be ready.
“They’re fine, they look after themselves, that’s if we play with two don’t forget. There’s options there, both very good players and professionals, they’ll be ready.”
Interesting that he would throw out the potential change of shape for the team.
Seamus Coleman and Ashley Young are expected to be in the stands on Saturday after Dyche confirmed their absence.
“Youngy and Seamus won’t be right for this one. We’re hoping for a quick recovery from those two,”
As for the longer term absentees, Dyche revealed that he hoped André Gomes will step up his recovery from a calf injury by completing 90 minutes for Everton Under-21s who play against West Bromwich Albion on Friday night and confirmed that Gomes and Dele would not be available for Saturday although he did add -
“Dele’s still on the grass with us, just going back through the motions to get back involved.”
Dyche did speak about his return to Burnley and was guarded, as usual:
“People who know me in football, know I don’t really go in for all that sort of stuff [sentimentality]. I always had a big respect and a big connection with the people and the fans because of my time, and the team’s time, and what was achieved there. To be honest, when the whistle blows, I want to win. That’s work time, that is what I am in the game for – to win.
Before and after I’m hopefully going to bump into some old faces. There has been a lot of change there but there are people I still know there so it will be nice to see them. I’ll pop in my pub, obviously, and have a few pints.”
It will be interesting to see how the team handles the change in expectation from the fans as the hype begins to build because of the excellent results over the past few weeks. Staying focused and following the plan.....that’s what Dyche would say!