Everton were a club in crisis last season. They are a club in crisis now & with how the transfer business for the Toffees has gone this summer, Everton are certainly gonna continue to be in one as fears of another relegation dogfight looms again.
When Sean Dyche walked through that Goodison doors this January, on his hands was an uphill task to turn around the fortunes of a lackluster team post Frank Lampard’s tenure, who himself took a similar task taking over from Rafa Benitez in the 21/22 season. So just six months later, after 2 consecutive defeats in the opening 2 fixtures, Sean Dyche faces the same dilemma that his predecessors faced and as ever the shadow of the fate Lampard & Benitez met hangs on Dyche too.
What does the numbers tell about Dyche’s tenure so far
Expected Goals (xG) are becoming ever so important in understanding how much goalscoring threat teams in particular can generate and when we look at the data in Everton’s case, Sean Dyche over the last 6 months averaged the highest average xG with 1.42 per game over all his predecessors dispelling the fact about his coaching style and remove doubts that whether he could coach Everton to generate goalscoring threat.
When we look at the other end of the field (Expected Goals Conceded), initial data would suggest Dyche couldn’t reduce the expected goals conceded they accumulated but as the end of the season approached, the graph curve seemingly shows that it was reducing following an initial peak of conceding larger numbers. This perhaps showed promise that if Dyche could be backed reasonably, he could produce results with his work.
How did it go this summer transfer window:
So far, Everton have signed Youseff Chermiti for 13M, and Ashley Young as a free agent. At 38, Young (no pun intended) is likely seen as a dressing room leader and more of a psychological impact over what can likely turn out a relegation battle for Sean Dyche and his men. Talking about 19-year-old Chermiti will be an interesting topic to debate.
Chermiti averaged a pretty high 0.54 None Penalty Expected Goals (npxG) Per90 last year with Sporting CP, but with a sample size of Barely 850 mins of League football, how quickly and consistently can Chermiti show quality in the Premier League is a big gamble. Chermiti’s profile as a more pure poacher (given his on ball metrics like progression w.r.t. passes or carry are too low amongst forwards) with meagre involvement in front of goal means without support, it can become quite a nightmare stint at Goodison Park if not managed properly.
It’s this fear that perhaps has now pushed Everton to pursue a deal for Che Adams of Southampton according to multiple rumours, a more Premier League experienced forward who’s been part of clubs that have had went through crisis modes and be an effective contributor in those environments. But even then, Everton’s squad needs a lot more work in more positions, in order to sustain the season.
A Tactical overlook from the first 2 games: The things in Dyche’s hands
Pic 6, 7, 8 & 9 (in order): Everton’s OOP structure against Fulham’s Phase 1, 2 and 3 and against Aston Villa in their Phase 1.
Sean Dyche’s earned the reputation of being a strong-armed pragmatist amongst general fans but over his last years at Burnley or his first 6 months at Everton, Dyche’s put emphasis on creating a reasonably robust press systems generally aiming to win the ball in certain areas employing a man to man pressing.
If we go through the above 4 pics one by one: The 1st Pic showcases Dyche employing a man-to-man wide trap to win the ball against Fulham, followed by a man-to-man orientation with a 4-4-2 structure against Fulham’s 4-2 Buildup. Dyche’s Plan clearly was to force turnovers in Fulham’s 1st and 2nd Phase and exploit gaps that they left between CB’s (this is much clearer in 3rd pic, a 5-4-1 block aiming to exploit Fulham on vertical transitions)
Pic 10 showcases the best chance Everton had early in the game, Doucoure wins the ball and finds ample space to drive the ball and ultimately had his effort saved by Bernd Leno. Everton had good transition moments outshot Fulham by 19 shots to 9 with barely 40% possession, had some good settled possession sequences too but got beaten in their own game with poor box defending against a transition.
But the biggest pet peeve here is the fact that Unai Emery & Aston Villa clearly came prepared and played Everton off the park (Villa park, no pun intended again) with their own version of 3-4-3 box midfield morphing from the 4-2-3-1 on paper (by moving Lucas Digne high, having Matty Cash play as a RCB, Bailey Keep width on right flank) that just tactically ousted Everton’s OOP approach. Sean Dyche here couldn’t adapt a more balanced system that could have aided Everton’s hopes.
Is this the maximum Sean Dyche could conjure up??
The answer is Yes and No. Dyche is a good coach, has experience working with shoestring budgets and tactically despite what anyone tells you, evolved over his Burnley stint. But he has a ceiling beyond which it will be hard to push for, and before we even talk about that, as of now without strengthening the squad, Dyche cant just conjure up results.
Throughout this article, the main consensus could come down to the subpar recruitment of Everton and Dyche’s perfections and imperfections as a coach. It’s this Challenge that lies ahead of Dyche, and it will lie beyond Dyche when his time comes, the Challenge to make Everton worthy of being a strong Premier League side.