As you might have heard by now, Everton did not make a single signing during the January transfer window, the only team in the entire Premier League not to do so. Despite a number of links on deadline day, no players came even close to a medical let alone getting signed even as the Toffees languish in 19th spot in the table and the club committing to giving the new manager resources for the relegation battle ahead.
While there have been rumours of Farhad Moshiri and the Board ‘asset-stripping’ as they prepare to possibly sell the club, there equally have been other whispers that the club’s financial position has been untenable with regards to the Premier League’s Profit & Sustainability regulations and that most of the money received upfront from Anthony Gordon’s £40+ million sale to Newcastle has gone towards improving the balance sheet and not the playing squad.
Speaking during his first press conference since taking over, Sean Dyche spoke at length about the lack of signings leading up to the close of the transfer window on Tuesday night, with the manager seen leaving Finch Farm about two hours before the window shutting at 11pm.
“Firstly, I’ve been here since Saturday and all I’ve seen is hard work so far, particularly in the recruitment area because we know the window was what it was. The owner, the chairman, Kev [Kevin Thelwell, Director of Football], myself. I’ve been leaving here late at night, Kev on the phone constantly. The chairman on the phone constantly. I can assure you, I was there myself seeing it all.
“A couple of things about the playing options, from many many years of my Premier League experience. You have got to have the finances in place, but the thing that often gets overviewed is that they have to be better than what we have here. We’ve got some very good, talented players, and they may have lost their way and I’ve never been one for signing players for the sake of signing them.
“Players coming in to the team, they better be good players. We’ve got good players here, we’ve got to polish them up a bit and a different way of looking at the game – a freedom to play. I’m not going to sign players for the sake of it and then never see them again, they’ve got to be good enough to affect what we do. We’ve worked hard, ringing agents, crunching analytics, to define the players who can help.
“What promises can you make? We need to align. You can make promises but you need to know the deal that makes them. I’m not going to talk about players. Phone calls were made, the offers were made, it didn’t get to them whatever the reason.”
It might have been a throw-away comment in there, but the fact that club chairman Bill Kenwright is right in the middle of it all during negotiations is everything that is still wrong about this football club, and also why we are where we are in the league table.
Was Dyche disappointed to not have brought in any players on deadline day?
“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.”
On the topic of the current squad, Dyche talked about the fitness of a number of players, starting with lead striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin whose form could make all the difference for the Blues in their relegation battle.
“He’s had ups and downs in fitness, getting him truly fit and his body strong enough is key. I spoke to him, he’s a lot closer than he felt he was, he’s an important player but there’s lots of important players here. With his scoring record, level of performance, not so long ago before the injuries he’s a very good player.
“Ben Godfrey is closer, Michael Keane is getting fitter and trained, Garns [James Garner] is going to be a little bit yet.”
What has he been working on right off the bat to change things in the squad?
“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.
Sean Dyche turning up in Merseyside in shorts in 7 degree weather and putting his team through a bleep test mid season is the most Sean Dycheiest thing he could have done pic.twitter.com/e9EPBtf2ZS— ⚽️ (@Kings_10) February 1, 2023
“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.”
Dyche is showing early that he does have his finger on the pulse of the fanbase, and speaks just as well as Lampard does. The true test for him will come on the pitch however, and not so much in the next couple of games against Arsenal and Liverpool where the Blues are expected to park the bus anyway, but in the games after that when he and his coaching staff have had some time to settle in and actually start to garner some points and climb up the lower half of table which remains tightly condensed.