Everton‘s players had barely left the pitch when the phones started to buzz.
It only takes seconds for the technological whizzes to get to work and, sure enough, out into the ether of social media came an image of Sean Dyche. His face had been imposed on to the flying body of Superman, with a broad smile and a clenched fist.
Here he was, swooping in at the nick of time to save the season. Standing outside Goodison Park’s press room, Dyche raised a wry smile when the image was shown to him.
‘My head’s been put on a few of them down the years,’ he chuckled. ‘But they have usually been wrestlers!’
The deeper point, however, was not lost on the new manager. Football is a remarkable business and, on the back of 96 thumping minutes that raised the hopes of Evertonians and stirred their souls, the atmosphere around the stadium had completely changed.
Sean Dyche managed to get the best out of his Everton side in an impressive debut victory
James Tarkowski scored the only goal of the game as Everton beat top of the table Arsenal
Supporters had done what Dyche had asked, in terms of placing the long and legitimate grievances that they had with the board on hold to back the team, and the outcome was a deserved victory.
After the game, the corporate lounge that backs on to the media room was more raucous than at any point in the past 12 months, with cheers of goal notifications from Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat at Wolves carrying through the walls.
Momentum comes in a split-second and Everton will cross Stanley Park a week today rubbing their hands at the prospect of making the biggest dent yet in Liverpool’s season of ignominy. Play like they did here and there’s no reason why they can’t win at Anfield.
James Tarkowski’s 60th-minute header from Dwight McNeil’s corner — a goal made in Burnley — was the only numerical separation between Everton and Arsenal but the truth was Dyche dragged a display from his squad that propelled them head and shoulders above their opponents.
Everton were aggressive and powerful through the middle, with Amadou Onana an immense figure. This young Belgian had been a beacon through the gloom of the first part of the season and his potential is limitless, which Dyche can see.
To accelerate his development, Dyche will set up a meeting with Onana and Steven Defour, a Belgian who shone at Burnley and was once coveted by Manchester United. The idea is to get Defour’s experience of the league and explain to the 21-year-old what he must do to shine.
There was more to it, however, than just running. Everton’s set-piece delivery was outstanding and the power with which their attackers arrived left Arsenal’s defenders rattling like a string of worry beads.
Liverpool, whose vulnerability at free-kicks and corners is well-known, should be very anxious.
He converted a brilliant Dwight McNeil corner to see Everton take the lead in the 60th minute
Dyche has not come to Goodison Park to mess around and it was significant when he stressed that a new week would mean another new start and, in turn, that meant more hard work. He kept repeating the mantra, perhaps playing to the tired stereotype that he is a sergeant major.
‘Look, I am not bothered,’ he said. ‘I will live in whatever box you want me to. I have never been bothered by it, you help yourselves. Just write that I am a tyrant and I have run them ragged and shouted at them.’
This was the only time he missed a point all afternoon. Dyche had been far more innovative than many people would have imagined in his first week at the club, having individual consultations with players, giving Dominic Calvert-Lewin clips to remind him where he could excel and cause damage.
‘I doubt many of my old players would say I’m hard line,’ said Dyche. ‘They’d say high professional standards, high demand. That doesn’t mean you are a tyrant. You can still talk to people, absorb what they are saying and get feedback.
Amadou Onana put in a tireless display during the Premier League clash on Saturday
‘I asked the team at half-time, ‘What do you think?’ They had taken a lot in the week. How can I be sure they have taken anything on, unless I ask them? It felt like we were on to something because they were noticing the things we talked about with them.
‘We’re all cynical in life, or some of us are, about things. (You wonder), ‘Is he on the level?’ That takes time and is about dual respect. I am willing to take time and I am willing to work with them. We have to fast track it because we have to build that quickly.’
With that, he was off to ‘enjoy a few beers’ but, in his mind, preparations had started for the task at Anfield.
Dyche was depicted as Superman on social media and he will be an instant hero if he masterminds a victory against the neighbours. On this form, you wouldn’t bet against it.
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