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Business as usual for Sean Dyche

Tuesday 31st October 2017
Monday night football in the Premier League saw Burnley win but pundits tapping Sean Dyche for the vacant Everton job are surely barking up the wrong tree.

The Premier League's last match before Hallowe'en was both trick and treat. Trick: both Burnley and Newcastle are in the table's top half. Treat: both clubs entertained Turf Moor fans with positive football.

Jeff Hendrick signaled his intent less than a minute into the match when a route-1 pass from the Clarets' half caromed into his path. He peeled off his man but sent his angled shot well wide of Toon's far post.
On the quarter-hour, Christian Atsu won a Michael Flatley look-alike contest against two Burnley defenders, only to river-dance his shot well over the bar. Seconds later, the Ghanaian set up Jonjo Shelvey for a top-of-the-18 volley, forcing Burnley's stand-in keeper, Nick Pope, to leave his feet to knock it down.

As the half-hour approached, Burnley fashioned a diagonal move to the Newcastle goal's right. Robbie Brady tried to chip over Rob Elliot's head. Rafa Benitez's number one backpedaled, then leaped to make the catch, rather than punching over to concede a corner. Elliot fared much better than Benfica goalkeeper Mile Svilar did against Manchester United in the Champions League in not carrying the ball over the line.

After the break, Ayoze Perez forced a diving save from Pope with a brilliant curling shot. At last, on 75', Hendrick found the ball at his feet from the second of Elliot's desperation saves. Unmarked at the far post, the Burnley midfielder teed the ball up and swept it into the gaping goal for the game winner.
Victory lifted Burnley over Newcastle and Watford into seventh place, level but a goal shy of Liverpool. That Sean Dyche can pace the Reds, early as it is in the season, only adds to his appeal for Everton fans and pundits looking for a better option than David Unsworth, following Ronald Koeman's dismissal.

Burnley and Newcastle each managed to put five of their respective dozen shots attempted on target. The Magpies edged possession and fouls but the Clarets could be considered the more aggressive party, having been called offside four times to Toon's one and earning two more corners than the visitors. In the end, it was a deserved win for the boss, ratcheting up the celebration of his fifth anniversary with the club.

If the Toffees take the milestone as a sign the so-called Ginger Mourinho is ready for a new challenge, they'll probably be disappointed. The outlandish broadcast rights the Premier League commands and, more importantly, distributes almost equally, mean that, for once, size doesn't necessarily matter. Every top flight English side is a big club in this era.

Burnley's share of the spoils in 2016-17 was nearly £108 million. For finishing 16th. Everton raked in just over £132 million for finishing seventh. At the moment, however, the tables are turned. Dyche's Clarets are seventh. Everton is languishing in 18th. After spending the last half-decade bringing Burnley into the Premier League, then staving off relegation, why would the bullet-headed gaffer want to leave a project that's just about to pay off?
Although there are bosses like Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp, and Roy Hodgson, who have made their names flying in to rescue teams from the drop, no manager wants to spend his career losing more than he wins. They prefer trophies.

Dyche's current challenge is to get Burnley into the Europa League. If he can maintain the club's present standing, it's entirely possible he will. That will not happen at Everton this year.

The manager who is awarded the Goodison Park job permanently faces a rebuild whether he preserves the Toffees' Premier League status or fails. If the club goes down, those players on Premier League contracts will have to be let go for budgetary reasons. If, more likely given the talent in the squad, Everton stay up, the first team will be packed with players over 30. Phil Jagielka will be 36 next season. Ashley Williams will be 34. Leighton Baines and Wayne Rooney will be 33. Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon? Spring chickens, by comparison, at 31. In his first full season back from a double leg break, Seamus Coleman will be 30. Gylfi Sigurdsson. Idrissa Gueye, and Yannick Bolasie will all be knocking on the door as 29-year-olds. Counting second-choice keeper Maarten Stekelenburg, 35, that's an entire XI on the downhill side of their respective careers. These days, the Prem is no bunny slope for old men.
Granted, there are some promising youngsters at Goodison Park. Ronald Koeman didn't get it all wrong. Tom Davies, Mason Holgate, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez, and Nikola Vlasic are all under 25. So are Jordan Pickford and, for Dyche, familiar face Michael Keane. Everton's current predicament is not its future.

Yet, the Burnley manager is still young himself. He surely remains interested in his own development. He is not about to turn his back on an opportunity to take his present team to the next level. Yes, while it would mean trading a year or two, the chance to maintain that improvement would be easier at Everton. There would be greater exposure, as well. Dyche has never seemed to be one for whom facilitation and notoriety are requirements in a potential job, however.

So, when Sean Dyche says he is "flattered" by the attention, he assuredly means exactly that. The remark is polite. It's courteous. It respectfully acknowledges Everton's tradition and standing in English football. It is not, however, a synonym for interested.
Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin contributes frequently to Stretty News and is the author of the short story collection strange bOUnce. He has appeared in several other blogs which, sadly, have ceased to exist. He is old and likes to bring out defunct. Although football is his primary passion, the geezer enjoys many sports and pop culture forms. Expect them to intrude upon his meanderings for It's Round and It's White.


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