New Everton boss Sean Dyche takes charge of his first game on Saturday at home against Arsenal; Toffees only Premier League club not to sign any players in January; Dyche: "There were loads of phone calls made and offers put in but they didn't get to the place where we wanted them to be"
Thursday 2 February 2023 16:39, UK
Sean Dyche has defended Everton's failure to sign any new players in the January transfer window, while he has called on disgruntled fans to "stick by the team".
The Toffees were the only Premier League club not to bring in any players during January despite their need to inject life into a squad which is next-bottom of the table having won just three times this season.
Numerous attempts were made to bring in players on Deadline Day, the day after Dyche was officially announced as manager, but they were beaten by other clubs or could not get deals over the line.
Despite criticism of their failure in the transfer market - owner Farhad Moshiri gave an interview last week in which he promised they would sign a striker - the former Clarets boss said it was not for the want of trying.
In his first press conference as Everton boss, Dyche said: "One thing I can assure you since I've been appointed and since getting here Saturday is that all I've seen is hard work, particularly in the recruitment area.
"I've been leaving here late at night. The owner, the chairman and Kev [Kevin Thelwell, Everton's director of football] have been on the phone constantly. I can assure you of this - I was physically there seeing it all. There's absolutely been hard work.
"I think the thing that gets overviewed is that they've [new signings] got to be better than what we've got here. I think we've got some very, very good players. They may have lost their way but there's some very talented players here. They may not have shown that but we need to remind ourselves of the good players here. We've got to polish them up a bit.
"I've never been one for signing players for the sake of it and then you never see them again. They've got to affect what we're doing and they've got to be good enough to affect what we're doing, otherwise I don't see the point in it.
"We worked very, very hard. I was here, I was watching it, I was involved in it, I'm ringing agents and doing everything we could do to find the players that could help.
"There were loads of phone calls made and offers put in but they didn't get to the place where we wanted them to be for whatever reason - that's the way sometimes it goes."
Asked about the possibility of signing free agents, Dyche responded: "There's a list of players we'll be looking through.
"But do they fit what we need, do they fit what we need to achieve going forward and can they do it pretty quickly? We need players that are going to activate now."
Everton fans have been critical in recent weeks about the way the club is being run and the board were advised not to attend the home match with Southampton due to threats made around their safety.
Dyche said he had walked into the situation with his eyes wide open but called for everyone to pull together to get them out of relegation trouble starting with his first game against Premier League leaders Arsenal on Saturday at Goodison Park.
He said: "I'm excited [about his first game]. I'm aware of the recent noise around the club and all that sort of stuff.
"I'm learning about the Evertonians, I'm learning why there's some noise around the club.
"One thing I know about the Evertonians is that they stand by the club and protect it and look after, and that's what I need now. Myself, my staff and the players need that full support.
"The message is clear - unity. It's a given. Even the most disgruntled Evertonians, give us a chance to stick by the team," he said.
"They [fans] are important, players respond to fans and when the pressure lifts all of a sudden they feel the backing and support.
"I'm reaching out to them; we'll give you honesty, work ethic, all we ask is give us a window to breathe, get ourselves going. Play your role in that.
Dyche also admitted he is a "Marmite" choice who would probably not have got the job had the club not been facing a second successive relegation battle.
The former Burnley boss takes over with the club only staying off the bottom of the Premier League on goal difference after nine defeats in their last 12 matches.
He was not owner Farhad Moshiri's first choice - nor would he have been that of the majority of fans - as the billionaire owner wanted ex-Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa, only for negotiations to break down over the Argentine's terms.
Dyche, sacked by the Clarets last April after nearly 10 years at Turf Moor as the club headed towards relegation, accepts he may have to win over fans but is ready for the challenge.
"I'm a Marmite manager anyway - not everyone wants you," the 51-year-old said.
"Possibly if it [the club] wasn't in the shape it's in I wouldn't get the chance. I don't mind that. I'm a custodian. I won't be here forever but I'll look after it.
"I've got to earn my spurs and I'm willing to put the hard yards in to earn their respect."
Maybe one day the reasons for a blank transfer window will become clearer, but for Evertonians the dawning of a new month brings with it the same feeling of despair and of questions left unanswered.
"Fans have held onto the belief that if players were brought in this window, we may have had the chance of staying up," former captain Alan Stubbs told Sky Sports.
"But to see them sell someone for £45m and bring no one in it is just another in a catalogue of errors made by this inept board."
If Sean Dyche was not already aware of the scale of the job he has taken on at Everton, then he certainly will be now. The end of the transfer window brought nothing but disappointment against a backdrop of mounting fan fury.
The club banked £45m from the sale of Anthony Gordon to Newcastle but their attempts to reinvest that cash, and improve a squad in dire need of strengthening, proved fruitless.
The list of rejections and near misses seemed to lengthen by the hour on Deadline Day, with reports emerging of unsuccessful moves for Hakim Ziyech, Conor Gallagher, Iliman Ndiaye, Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Udinese striker Beto, among others.
On Wednesday morning came further news of a near-miss as Everton tried to sign Anthony Elanga in the final days of the transfer window.
They were hopeful, even as late as deadline day, of agreeing a loan deal with Manchester United for the 20-year-old but Erik ten Hag could not be persuaded to allow him to leave. They also made a loan offer for Watford forward Ismaila Sarr in the final hours that was rejected.