As Everton secured a big win at home against Brentford on Saturday, one player who has struggled badly since signing for the club continued his recent renaissance.
That player, who has had a tough time since he signed for the Toffees’ in the summer, has begun to find his feet at last under manager Sean Dyche. He is of course, Dwight McNeil.
The former Burnley forward was a £20 million signing last summer during Frank Lampard’s time as Everton manager.
For many Blues’ fans, including myself, this was a controversial addition. The fee seemed very high for a player who had struggled the previous season as Burnley were relegated to the Championship.
At the time too, the priority for the club was to sign strikers and goal-scorers, not a footballer who hadn’t scored a single goal in the campaign just gone and had only one assist.
McNeil, like Neal Maupay seemed a signing that didn’t seem to obviously fit into the existing squad or a clearly defined strategy for how the team would play going forward.
The 21-year-old had a very difficult time adjusting to life at Goodison Park. Lampard, despite having signed him, also didn’t always use the winger he had brought in.
And, after some poor performances he slipped down the pecking order behind others such as Anthony Gordon and Demarai Gray.
When Lampard was finally sacked in January, Sean Dyche eventually took over and he was of course McNeil’s former manager at Turf Moor.
There was though some degree of uncertainty about whether Dyche’s arrival would mean McNeil would get a regular place given that there had been rumours of past comments that the player had made regarding Dyche.
That has been rubbished by the player himself and he has since revealed his conversations with the manager. Since Dyche took over, McNeil has been a starter every week.
He took time to get going, but in recent matches McNeil has played well. On Saturday against Brentford he was arguably man-of-the-match and scored the winning goal in the first minute.
McNeil has been delivering excellent quality balls from out wide and that production is very welcome considering how little genuine attacking creativity this team has had.
If Dominic Calvert-Lewin is ever finally able to return to the Everton side (assuming that does actually happen!) then he will surely thrive on all the quality delivery McNeil can offer.
This combination hopefully, will then enable the Toffees’ to score more goals and therefore win more matches which will ensure survival.
So, a player who was much-maligned just a few weeks ago might turn out to become a central figure in helping the Blues’ stay up.