Sean Dyche got his tenure at Everton off to a winning start with a 1-0 win over Premier League leaders Arsenal, but it was the manner in which the victory was achieved that will have Blues buzzing.
The hosts remained disciplined in their defensive structure, and the fitness drills the new manager enforced as soon as he got to Finch Farm played a big part in securing this win.
Speaking after the final whistle, Dyche sounded quite pleased with his side, but didn’t want to get quite carried away.
“The performance was really important today because we’ve tried to cram five weeks of a pre-season into five days. If you imagine a pre-season you can leak information into the team slowly but surely as they’re getting fitter and sharper.
“We’ve had to condense that into a week and give them a lot of information about how we want to go about it, the base we work from, the way we work the team, the commitment, the tactical layers... all of those things.
“Quality-wise we can build on that but there has to be a base to work from, there has to be a feel of the group and a commitment to the cause and I thought there was plenty of that today.
“I’ve just said to them that it’s a start point, that’s all it is. We’re laying down the fibre of what we want to be as a group but this is only a start point, no matter who you beat. There is a reality to how I work. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it - I do enjoy it. I’ll be driving home thinking, ‘This is a really good start for us’, but I’m not naive - I’ve been in it for a long time.
“That win doesn’t solve everything. We’ve got to put layers and layers and layers on top of that. It’s a great start point, of course. Arsenal are flying but the next win isn’t guaranteed because of it and I’ve told the players that already. I’ve told them to come in ready to start again on Monday, to keep working and to keep improving.”
Everton have three former Burnley players in their ranks, and it was summer signings Dwight McNeil and James Tarkowski who combined to nab the only goal of the game. Has the presence of that pair and Michael Keane aided his transition?
“Maybe. I don’t work on the basis of asking players to be eyes and ears in the camp - that’s not my style. I haven’t really spoke to the three of them. They know how I work so maybe they already said to a few of the players what they can expect.
“I’d like to think that if they did they know that there’s thought behind everything we do and I like to think they shared the fact that everything we do is for them. Without the team you can’t do anything as a manager or staff.
“There’s certainly no dominance in my managing style believe it or not. There’s a shared ownership of it and that’s important. I’ve told them all in the dressing room that they’ll be back in Monday and working - make no mistake about it.”
After the solemnity of the protest against the club’s Board before the game, Goodison Park was back at its raucous best during and after the game as the fans welcomed the new manager and roared their Blues on to the win.
“I certainly can’t ask more than what they gave us. I said about the alignment, I said about giving our lot and it’s not that they weren’t already but maybe it diluted a little bit. We had to revive that.
“The fans are going to be massive for us, I know that. Their passion, the desire of this Club to not be in this situation... I’ve been here when it’s been rocking and it was absolutely rocking today.
“We’ve got to give them something. I admire their support from the off today. That’s massively vital for us - but we’ve got to give them a performance, show that we intend on delivering a performance. That was there today and now we must build on that feeling.”