Sean Dyche has been appointed as Everton manager following the sacking of Frank Lampard earlier this month, being tasked with achieving Premier League survival.
This appointment has garnered a lot of attention from fans and analysts alike, as Dyche has seen a lot of success at his former club Burnley. The manager promoted Burnley to the Premier League, where he managed them 425 times.
During his tenure, which was just short of 10 years, he achieved two top half finishes and became a club legend – securing European football for the first time in 50 years.
Dyche’s achievements have been performed on extremely low budgets, with Burnley consistently having the lowest net spend in the league year on year when in the Premier League.
His style of play prioritises defensive solidity and good structure, and it is almost nailed on that he will implement his classic 4-4-2 formation at Goodison Park.
Before we talk tactics and investigate how Dyche could set up his side, we need to investigate what he can bring to the Toffees.
Improved defensive solidity: Dyche has a reputation for building well-organized and hard-working teams that are difficult to break down. He is likely going to bring a lot more structure and discipline to Everton, who have been leaking goals of late.
A more direct style of play: Dyche's teams have often been known for their direct and counter-attacking style of play, which focuses on quickly transitioning from defence to attack.
Increased work rate: One of Dyche's hallmarks is his demand for high levels of work rate and intensity from his players. He will demand better fitness, a team that fights for each other, and a solid platform for the more creative players to express themselves.
Emphasis on team spirit: Dyche is a strong advocate of building a positive team culture and has often spoken about the importance of togetherness and unity in his teams. This should help to improve the overall morale and spirit within the squad and create a more positive atmosphere.
Despite Dyche’s positives seeming perfect for relegation-threatened Everton, there are some questions arising.
Will he be able to do better at Goodison Park than he did at Turf Moor? Everton are a bigger club who have a solid fanbase and spend a lot more money than the Clarets.
Does this mean that the Toffees will see Dyche as a long-term replacement and if he keeps them up this season, could he push them to mid-table, and then furthermore Europe?
The problem with Everton is that the club is a mess right now. The Toffees have become a good example of a team who doesn’t spend money well, with protests recently wanting the board out. Saying this, on paper their team seems good enough to stay up, and on paper, Dyche is a perfect replacement.
The manager has worked with both Michael Keane and James Tarkowski before. He managed to get the best out of both and has stated before that James Tarkowski isn’t just a great defender, but also has a fantastic long passing range, which could utilise with his long-ball style of play.
Dwight McNeil is the third player that Dyche has worked with, and he has spoken out about his becoming frustrated with Dyche wanting him to track back and restricting his license to get forward and be creative. Creative players such as hard-worker Alex Iwobi and Demarai Gray could struggle with this problem too.
So how will Dyche set up?
The new coach will most likely set up with a 4-4-2 formation due to his success with this in the past. The good thing about this tactic is that it is simple and easy to understand for a team who needs results fast and have to adapt to a new manager in the meantime.
The second positive about his formation is how defensively astute it is, keeping the opposition outside of the box and keeping it tight at the back. The aim will be to protect Pickford as much as possible, with Burnley in their last season under Dyche making 509 blocks, more than any other team that season.
Everton are also blessed with two midfielders capable of sitting and minimising space, Onana and Gueye. Dyche will want these to shine in their simple roles, of defending, working hard, and being an option for playing out, rather than a more straining box-to-box role.
If the opposition play a midfield three and it gets too much, a formation is just yards, and we could see Dyche dropping one of the strikers into a secondary striker role, creating a 4-4-1-1. The aim of this would be to make the midfield as congested as possible. Hard-working Alex Iwobi has starred in midfield for the Toffee’s this year, and this could become his job if needs be, defending and getting forward to play off target man Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Going forward, Dwight McNeil knows Dyche’s system, so it would be expected that he would start on the left. In a 4-4-2, Iwobi could slot in due to his ability to get back, his ability to create chances, and the fact he is valuable to the team.
Onana will spend a lot of his time sitting but will have a license to come forward on occasions. The positive about having two strikers is that when a team has one defensive midfielder (which most teams have), they will only be able to cover one passing route to the choice of two strikers, who will ideally be left one-on-one with a defender.
When a quick outlet is needed, Tarkowski and his ability to pick out people with a long ball, Everton can have the two wide players to receive it on the counter, or obviously Calvert-Lewin.
Calvert Lewin fits the mould for a ‘Sean Dyche striker’ with solid aerial ability and a good physical presence. This also means that when the wingers can progress, he will be a threat from crosses, especially from the likes of chance-creator Iwobi.
Maupay is probably the favourite to start alongside Calvert-Lewin due to his previous success in the Premier League at Brighton. This isn’t to say that Ellis Sims – who got recalled from his loan – doesn’t also suit Dyche’s mould of striker. Demarai Gray could also be a long shot to start up top.
Everton fans must recognise that in a relegation scrap, they might have to play this ‘ugly’ football at times to grind out results. Despite this, they might buy into the fact that Dyche is dominant, ‘alpha-male’ type manager who will get the team working hard and not giving up.
It will be interesting to see if Sean Dyche can be successful at the Toffee’s, but this seems like a step in the right direction.