Sean Dyche kicked off his era at Everton with a captivating win over league leaders Arsenal at Goodison Park. James Tarkowski scored the only goal of the game as the goal was made in Burnley as two former Burnley players – Dwight McNeil and Tarkowski, combined to deliver Dyche his first win as Everton boss.
The team performance was commendable as most of the boxes were ticked, which resulted in a strong showing against the Gunners. Despite Dyche joining the club just six days before the tie against Arsenal, a lot of hard work was put in behind the scenes to prepare a competent game plan.
The Toffees carved out a fantastic performance and now this performance must serve as a blueprint for the rest of the season as Everton look to dig themselves out of a deep hole that saw them lingering in the relegation places. A win has not only uplifted the Everton spirits but also uplifted their position on the table. From being joint bottom, the Merseysiders are now 18th with 18 points in 21 games.
One of the heroes of the game was McNeil. The 23 year old has had a disastrous start to his Everton career after completing a £20 million move in the summer. The arrival of Dyche at Goodison Park did infuse some hope that McNeil’s form could be revived as the manager knows him well.
Everton winger Dwight McNeil highlights the importance of a team meeting with Dyche
At Burnley, the 51 year old manager was able to get the best out of McNeil even with his rawness. Under Dyche, the 23 year old played 139 games at Turf Moor and was a reliable weapon from the flanks.
McNeil looked unsettled and out of sync since his move to Goodison Park. He struggled massively under Frank Lampard, failing to muster any impressive displays in the first half of the season.
Quality was there but McNeil was running low on confidence and his best attributes weren’t being used to attain maximum benefits. While speaking to the club’s official website, the 23 year old highlighted the fresh start he’s had under Dyche.
"I knew so far this season I hadn’t been at my best and low on confidence, but with the new manager coming and still half a season to go, I saw it as a fresh start. [It is about] getting back to basics and building from there – my confidence came from there. It was a good team performance as well. (via the club’s official website)"
Along with the Englishman, players like Abdoulaye Doucoure and Amadou Onana also shined throughout the 90 minutes. The Everton team does have noteworthy individual quality but the dreadful run meant that a lot of players were running low on confidence and belief. McNeil highlighted the importance of a team meeting during the first week of Dyche’s appointment that helped immensely.
"We’ve got amazing talent here. There are some amazing players. We had a meeting about that – about how good we are individually and how good we can be as a team. That spurred us on a little bit this week as well in training and it’s shown out there on the pitch. It’s definitely [the blueprint moving forwards]. Work hard individually and collectively. That’s what’s required to play under this manager."
Everton and Dyche have another big test on their hands as they face fierce rivals and neighbours Liverpool on Monday night. McNeil will be hoping to play an important role in that fiery clash too.
Will Dwight McNeil become a key player under Dyche?