Sean Dyche has said he wants to light the fire that still burns at Everton by creating a team that embodies the values of Howard Kendall’s great sides of the 1980s.
The Everton manager begins his reign amid difficult circumstances on Saturday when league leaders Arsenal visit him for a game marred by anti-management protests. Despite the acrimony and the team’s terrifying run of one win in 12 Premier League games, Dyche believes there remains a spirit at Everton that could be crucial in the fight to avoid relegation. And he wants to build on the values that underpinned the club’s last period of sustained success.
Asked to describe his dream team for Everton, Dyche replied: “A team that embraces and understands the past, while building the future. I remember the team from the mid-80s very clearly. But they weren’t just great players: they had wrestling, they made a team that you could feel through a TV screen, unsung heroes became heroes, some guys gone from fashion suddenly became these brilliant footballers. You have to embrace that feeling. The fans played their part in that by bringing it all together.
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“We need a future version of that kind of feeling. I thought, ‘Can I do my part to give him some of that?’ I think I can. On top of that you want skill and of course the game has changed but we have to build on the great feeling of that time at the club while building the future. Do not forget the values of the club. I’m not saying it has been forgotten. The fire is still there, we just have to light it.”
Dyche’s last game as manager was on April 10 last year, when Burnley’s 2-0 defeat at Norwich spelled the end of his nine-and-a-half-year reign. Despite all of Everton’s problems, which escalated when they failed to sign in January, he is enjoying his debut at Goodison.
“I’ll have that game day anxiety: are they going to deliver what we’ve been working on? – but of course there will be excitement. It is the Everton football club. I know the story. Imagine the opportunity to turn it around. Imagine the opportunity that I have to do my part, because there are a lot of people involved in this, in reshaping things and turning it around… I’m proud to be here.”
Dyche denied falling out with several players towards the end at Burnley, notably Dwight McNeil, who joined Everton last summer. “I’ve never had a fight with anyone, certainly not Dwighty,” he said. “I gave him his debut and I didn’t leave him out for more than 100 games. It must have been some fight. I didn’t fight with anybody, I just didn’t win enough games.”