Everton manager Sean Dyche will allow his players to briefly enjoy their escape from relegation but he has already laid down the law that major changes are needed at the club.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s 57th-minute thunderbolt gave the Toffees a 1-0 win over Bournemouth and the victory which ensured they stayed up and extended their stay in the top flight to 70 successive seasons.
For the second consecutive season there was a pitch invasion at the final whistle – although nowhere near as many numbers joined in as 12 months ago when safety was secured with a game to spare.
There was a feeling inside the club that they did not want to be seen to be celebrating avoiding failure and that probably came from Dyche himself.
“It’s a horrible day for all concerned, there is no joy in it for me other than getting the job done,” said the former Burnley boss, who only took over in late January.
“I came in here to change a mentality and I think there have been signs of that. There is still more to go.
“I said to the the players ‘We shouldn’t be here. Enjoy this today and you’ve earned it but at the end of the day it has got to change’.
“There is no point in sitting on it and saying ‘Look how great we are’ because it is not like that.
“There is loads to change here and a lot of work to be done but it was a big step to secure it.”
Dyche was able to speak from a greater position of strength after avoiding what would have been only the club’s third relegation in their 145-year history.
Your support > everything. 🤩
From start to finish today, you were incredible. Thank you, Toffees. 💙 pic.twitter.com/ONXmWi1R8g
— Everton (@Everton) May 28, 2023
That gave him the confidence to dish out some home truths in his post-match press conference which he had been reticent to do so previously for fear of creating more instability and detracting from the task in hand.
“Don’t think I thought this was an easy fix because it is not, far from it,” he added.
“It’s a big club, make no mistake. Big history, big club, but we are not performing like a big club. We have to find a way of changing that. This is two seasons now.
“I’ve played my little part in two seasons of this but there is a massive amount of change to build to a new dawn, a new future, a bigger future if you like.”
That future is likely to see him make significant changes to a totally unbalanced squad which somehow avoided relegation despite playing the whole season with their main striker – Dominic Calvert-Lewin – featuring in less than half of it and his back-up – Neal Maupay – managing just one goal (in September) in 29 appearances.
Asked if he would have to sell players, with the club having made more than £430m of losses in the last four years, Dyche added: “There’s a chance. I’ll find out about that.
“There’s not been any depth, there have been peripheral talks based on ifs, buts and maybes but that will come over the coming weeks when we find out the truth of what we have got, what we can do, what we can’t do.
“We had to get this (safety) sorted out, we’ve got it over the line. It was absolutely the key focus. Now it is time to immediately re-focus on the rest of it.”
Bournemouth boss Gary O’Neil was disappointed not to have got something from the game.
“I thought we were the better side and had control for the most part but there is still a lot to progress on,” he said.
“We knew we were coming into a tough atmosphere against a direct team and I thought the lads stood up to it well. We maybe didn’t create enough.
“We maybe got a little too desperate towards the end but there was a lot there I liked. It’s just a shame we didn’t score, I always thought we would get one.”