One of the most significant changes that has occured since Sean Dyche took over as Everton manager is the re-birth of Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Last Saturday evening Doucoure produced another fine performance contributing one equaliser and assisting for the second, scored so superbly by Ellis Simms that secured a valuable point.
This was the latest in a string of solid efforts from the rangey Mali international midfielder following a goal for Everton at Nottingham Forest in the previous away match.
Doucoure’s return to the team has been one of the decisions Dyche made as he sought to turn around what looked a near-certain sinking ship when he succeeded Frank Lampard in January.
The former Watford player had been frozen out of the first-team by Lampard towards the end of his time as Blues’ boss, despite declining results at the end of last year and the start of this.
Why exactly is still not totally clear although rumours of a falling out between the two men have floated around.
But, whatever the exact reason for the stand-off, it led Doucoure to consider leaving Everton in the January transfer window.
Fortunately, he didn’t do that and in the end stayed on Merseyside. And, since Dyche’s arrival he has become a key player in the new manager’s plans and tactics.
Dyche decided to go with a five-man midfield and brought Doucoure back to slot in alongside Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye.
While Onana and Gueye have been very inconsistent since then, Doucoure has been solid and reliable turning in increasingly dynamic all-round performances.
One of, if not the, biggest problem Dyche faced when he became the Toffees’ manager, was the lack of goal scoring.
A chronic issue all season long, which was made even worse by a disasterous transfer window and that embarrassing dealine day fiasco when not a single new player was signed.
This situation was compounded by the never-ending injury problems of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
As a makeshift solution, I suggested the manager might consider pushing one of his big midfielders forward to provide that height and physical presence needed in support of his strikers.
Doucoure was the obvious choice. Especially given that he does have the ability to score goals, something that we’ve seen far too little of since he joined Everton.
Recently, Dyche has encouraged the 30-year-old to get forward much more often and while I’m not saying he is listening to anything I write, it is more or less what I suggested!
Anyway, if Doucoure can continue to provide this sort of attacking threat he will surely make a big contribution to keeping Everton in the Premier League.