Sean Dyche couldn’t resist having a dig at Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane for his reaction in the incident that saw Abdoulaye Doucoure sent off on Monday.
The Everton midfielder was rightly dismissed for raising his hands and connecting with Kane’s face, though the England captain made sure the referee noticed by theatrically falling to the floor.
“Doucoure certainly doesn’t need to apologise. At the end of the day he knows you can’t raise your hands.
“I thought at one point he might have snapped his [Kane’s] eyelash, which would have been tragic, but he seemed to be responding OK.”
Dyche compared the fuss surrounding the Kane incident, which included him being tested for concussion, to that of Michael Keane, who was caught by a studs-up challenge from Lucas Moura, who was also red carded late on.
The defender got on with the game and would score the equalizer through a thunderbolt from distance in time added on.
The Toffees manager believes such examples of ‘gamesmanship’ are now simply accepted in football.
“The strange thing about football, the following of football, the rules and the governing bodies, is that on one night you have a player who, in theory, is very close to getting a broken ankle and nothing is said, and another gets a broken eyelash and it’s like the world is going to end.
“There is an undercurrent of fans who are like: ‘Oh come on, really?’ and just want to get on with the game, but everyone has become so precious. The rules are so precious, in society as well as football. It was a big drama over nothing, although I was worried when they concussion tested him. I thought: ‘Wow, this could be a close one’.
“I think the in-house view of things is strange in football now. What do you think my teammates would have thought of me if I’d have done that in the mid-90s? They’d have laughed at me. But now they don’t. Millions of kids see footballers cheat every week, diving all over the place, and no one says a word. Someone gets flicked in the eyelash and it becomes a big situation. That’s just the way it is now.”
Dyche was speaking to preview Everton’s trip to Manchester United on Saturday as they look to extend their four-match unbeaten run.
Their last two games against Chelsea and Tottenham have seen the Toffees score late equalisers to claim a point.
Dyche says that is proof of the players taking “ownership” of their performances as they look to steer the club away from relegation.
“As a manager, I’ve always felt you guide players to what you think is appropriate.
“What you think is good for them as individuals and good for the group. Then eventually you want it to rub off so that they start taking ownership. Owning things. Not tactically, but looking after each other professionally, maintaining standards and self-governing what we lay down as being important to the group and team.
“There’s the expectation to deliver performances and there are clear signs of that. The group are demanding more of each other, not just me and the staff. They are taking it on both in training and on the pitch.”