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Three things new Everton manager Sean Dyche must address

Everton’s 2-0 defeat to West Ham was one defeat too many for Frank Lampard, as the former England midfielder was fired as Toffees manager last Monday. The Goodison Park club are fighting for Premier League survival, and have now turned to Sean Dyche as the head coach to guide them away from danger near the foot of the table.

While Marcelo Bielsa and Duncan Ferguson were names bandied about to replace Lampard, the club settled on Dyche, who managed Burnley for ten years before being sacked in 2022. Dyche certainly has experience creating more from less, having taken the club as high as seventh in the Premier League in 2017-18 – and qualifying for Europa League play – on the 18th-highest wage bill.

19th-place Everton will need Dyche to work similar magic at Goodison Park, but fortunately will have a substantially larger budget to work with. Here are three key things the new Everton manager must prioritise to get the club back on track and avoid relegation.

Find an attacking formula that works

Lampard was never able to get the best out of Everton’s attacking talent. Indeed, only Wolves have scored fewer goals in the Premier League this season than the Toffees and so this is an area where improvement is clearly needed. The Toffees need an attacking formula that amounts to more than just hoping for a moment of individual brilliance.

At his best, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is one of the most effective attacking focal points in the Premier League – Everton must do a better job of getting service into the England international. Demarai Gray and Dwight McNeil also have the quality to make a difference in the wide areas, but they too need harnessed by the system rather than isolated by it.

Anthony Gordon was a potential match-winner who had been unable to demonstrate his best form this season. The youngster appeared to lose focus after being the subject of strong interest from Chelsea last summer, and Everton decided that the time was now to cash in on the 21-year-old’s potential. The €45 million sale to Newcastle will unlock key funds for Dyche to shore up his squad during the final days of the January transfer window, with Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher already rumoured to be a target.

Build around a solid midfield unit

Everton went six Premier League matches unbeaten over August, September and into early October during which Lampard found a strong midfield unit. Andre Onana and Idrissa Gana Gueye were signed to give the Toffees some much-needed steel in the centre of the pitch while Alex Iwobi provided mobility and drive.

Lampard shifted away from this unit as he attempted to push Iwobi closer to goal, but his replacement should build around the strongest area of the Everton team. The Toffees have the ability to control matches through the midfield even when they don’t have the ball. There is enough quality here.

If Everton have a deficiency in the centre of the pitch, it’s that they lack a midfield creator who can pick open an opposition defence. This is where the Goodison Park club must make a move in the transfer window. This sort of player would round out the quality of their midfield and boost their chances of avoiding relegation. 

Get the fanbase back on side

Goodison Park has become a toxic place in recent times. The fanbase has turned against the Everton board with protests against owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright now commonplace. Dyche’s intense personality and clear passion and intelligence on the job mixed with playful interviews may give the club’s supporters the right future to rally around. 

The home crowd illustrated their potential in the final weeks of last season, achieving home victories over Manchester United, Chelsea and Crystal Palace. The atmosphere at Goodison Park pushed forward the team on the pitch and was a key factor in the Toffees keeping their place in the Premier League for another year.

After a meeting with table-toppers Arsenal in early February, Everton have home fixtures against Leeds United, Aston Villa and Brentford. That stretch could go a long way to determining the outcome of Everton’s 2022/23 campaign – they must get points against the teams around them in the table. The Goodison Park crowd will once again play an important role, and this year it will help determine if Sean Dyche is the right fit for this campaign and the seasons ahead.

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