A Tale Of Two Bosses: Groundhog Day
While in the midst of a depressing 2021-22 campaign, Rafa Benitez would be relieved of his duties in January so that Frank Lampard could secure Everton another season in the Premier League, 2022-23 saw Lampard sacked to start the new year, to be succeeded by former Burnley boss Sean Dyche.
Frank Lampard famously kept Everton up with that comeback against Crystal Palace during the second-to-last matchday of the Premier League campaign, while Sean Dyche’s lot narrowly defeated AFC Bournemouth on the final day of last year’s frenzied season; the current Toffee boss is hoping that the similarities end there, however.
Dyche has brought a greater toughness to the Blues. It was something that had been missing for some time, and likely would’ve been kicked back into the club by Big Duncan Ferguson were he still prowling the sidelines under any number of Everton managers.
It feels very much like each manager since Carlo Ancelotti’s successor Rafa Benitez was sacked has contributed something positive to the side in its rebuilding of sorts. While the team and supporters were crushed Don Carlo was leaving, the side lost a great deal of confidence under Benitez. Lampard got the side having more fun on the ball, but he was not the tactician or motivator necessary for keeping such a side as this afloat for long.
Enter Dyche, who is disciplined, experienced, and has more talent with Everton now than he ever had at Burnley over years and years. He kept a depleted side in the Premier League once again last year, and wishes to mold this team into the place where it should be.
With more time getting to know the boss, the Everton players should be better able to play the style he wishes for them - while he continues to develop a system that maintains his great defensive mindset while allowing for his sides to do what his previous teams simply were incapable of.
The 4-5-1 is likely going to be his staple again this season, but variations into a 4-4-2 and possibly a back-three should still be expected depending on who can stay healthy and who gets sold and bought between now and the end of August.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is the dream number nine for so many bosses, and Sean Dyche is no exception with his love for big, physical players front to back, but he has struggled the past two years to remain healthy; with a healthy DCL the Toffees will not have to worry about a real relegation scrap for a third year running. It is behind him where the worries start. Can Arnaut Danjuma replicate the Richarlison role? Will Youssef Chermiti hit the ground running? How about any other forwards the Blues sign, with Wilfried Gnonto’s name popping up again?
Should the injury bug hit Everton again, however, and the boss will return to his Turf Moor days and park the bus as early as one might conceive in order to take point after heartwrenching point. It will all depend on the business done, and the health of the team maintained.
Frank Lampard wanted to attack, but he was unable to conform his vision to his roster of available players. Sean Dyche is, on the other hand, a defensive madman and a master of using and conforming an idea to the resources at his command. His defensive structures are capable of being attacking in nature with the right players and ideas, but have been used often by Dyche to compress and spring back at overly exposed attacking sides.
Yet for the present boss in his first full season, his ambition will be to develop his Everton system with some young attacking talent, something he touched upon during his pre-match press conference earlier today as well.
Burnley always had a massive, physical team, and they always counterattacked and made the game a nightmare - even for the likes of Manchester City. Sean Dyche likes that profile, and Everton has many players across all three levels that fit those ideas.
But he also has better offensive weapons available when all are healthy, and between players like former Burnley player Dwight McNeil, Alex Iwobi, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Arnaut Danjuma, Youssef Chermiti and possibly more, there is so much attacking talent for the boss to really utilize in a more positive way.
State of the Position
Lampard could never get it going in his first full season - much like his predecessor. But Dyche is a more experienced coach who understands both how he wants to play and how he needs to play given his resources; he is very much a gourmet survivalist of sorts, still getting used to a fully electric oven. Everton don’t have the best ingredients these days, but as Dyche noted last season, he always works to maximize what he has at his disposal.
With that being said, Sean Dyche begins this season in a better spot than Frank Lampard began his last. He is a better boss than the man he took over from, has a team full of players who know his system and approach better, and his system and style better fit the players at Finch Farm and Goodison than did Lampard’s. Director of Football Kevin Thelwell appears to have backed both managers well in the summer transfer windows, but it’s what Dyche will do what that talent that could determine how his time at Everton is remembered.
The 52-year-old has the opportunity to make real strides with this team this season - despite the fact that not many people have high hopes for the Blues. With another transfer or two, Dyche is going to use more of his players this year than he did last year, and the entire side will be more organized and effective individually and as a unit across the 2023-24 Premier League and domestic cups.