Ha. Joke’s on me. He’s already miserable, and that’s not a joke at Everton’s expense. I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a more-miserable manager. Then again, I’d be miserable too if I had spent the last ten years of my life trying to manage Burnley, who somehow succeeded in making me fond for the good old days when it was Stoke’s players who were maiming our players. That felt like a good old-fashioned rivalry, full of top-shelf bantz and good-natured…wait. Somewhere in the midst of taking the piss out of Dyche, I lost track and missed the mark. Let’s re-focus here. Dyche may have been appointed on Monday, but that will have been enough time to instill his, um, tactics in the squad.
Those tactics, such as they are, may worry us more for their potential to literally injure our players rather than figuratively damage our title tilt. It might be good news then that Thomas Partey may not be available. Even with the signing of Jorginho, we can ill-afford a long-term injury to the Ghanaian. Heightening the risk is the idea that this Toffees squad is new to those “tactics”, which, paradoxically, makes those tactics more-dangerous: playing rough does actually require some practice and familiarity. Add clumsiness to ruggedness and you have a recipe for disaster. I’d almost prefer Dyche had more time to explain to his new charges the subtle, nuanced differences between a bone-crunching tackle and a bone-breaking one.
Speaking ahead of the match, Dyche had this to say:
We want the fans to reconnect with us, but that’s easy to say. I’ve got to earn my spurs. I’m a marmite manager anyway – not everyone wants you. We’ve got to put the hard yards in. We want them to support us from the off, even the ones who have angles, questions, if they can park it for a little while and hopefully reconnect with us.
For those unclear, Marmite is something people either love or hate; there’s no in-between. There’s a certain defiantly old-fashioned British-ness to it
Dyche, despite failing to keep Burnley up a year ago, may be the better choice than Bielsa if Everton want to avoid relegation. Even without new signings, Dyche will (eventually) get the Toffees’ defense on firmer footing and may even instill enough of his defiant siege-mentality into this squad that the players start to actually care enough about winning, or at least not losing, to stave off relegation. That of course is none of our concern.
We know that only three points will do, and if that means throwing an anchor at a drowning man, then so be it. I’m actually quite relieved at Dyche’s hiring. Had Everton hired someone like Bielsa, someone who enjoys positive, attacking football, I might have felt a twinge of guilt at battering Everton and sending them one step closer to relegation. Dyche prides himself as the Marmite manager, though, and seems to enjoy being the miserable knob that he is. Some people, as I’ve said before, are only happy when they have something to complain about. That description fits Dyche to a t. It would therefore be impolite of us give him any reason to feel anything remotely resembling joy. Let’s make sure we’re well-mannered guests to Goodison Park and give Dyche exactly what he craves: another reason to crab and grouse and complain.