February 28, 2024

Sean Dyche maintains his commitment to his own opinions regarding substitutes by making adjustments to the game.

In the aftermath of Everton’s draw with Brighton & Hove Albion, supporters debated the Blues boss’ usage of his bench, or lack thereof. The late own goal by Ashley Young cost Everton three crucial points.

Roberto de Zerbi, the manager of Brighton, kept rotating his team in an attempt to find an equalizer, but Dyche didn’t start using his bench until Kaoru Mitoma’s unfortunate deflection of a cross restored parity.

Asked for his thoughts on his use of substitutes, Dyche said ahead of Everton’s trip to Crystal Palace: “When the team is operating in a manner that I want it to operate in then I am not going to change just for change’s sake. That is it in a nutshell. When the team is operating in a manner that I want it to operate in and that I believe in, then I don’t change things for the sake of changing.”

Dyche can point to statistics and passages of play largely backing him up, at least when Everton are protecting a lead. Although he did not look to fresh legs on Saturday, for all the talent of Brighton’s starting 11 and the four players who entered the fray before the equaliser, the away side rarely looked like breaking through at Goodison Park. And Dyche has not lost a game from a winning position since his appointment on Merseyside back in late January – though his teams have struggled to come from behind to take points.

Dyche has more data on this subject than just his time on Merseyside; during the previous season, he told the ECHO, “I don’t tinker too much if the team is operating in the manner that I think is right, other than fatigue or injury of course.” My statistics and the information therein have paid off. I believe in a method of working, so unless someone is acting really strangely, there may be an injury, or it’s just plain tired, I usually leave the side alone if I think it’s functioning properly.

Lack of bench options during his time at Burnley and the first few months of his Everton tenure could have been one contributing cause. He guided the team through a serious late-season injury problem the previous season. At the beginning of this season, he also had a long list of fitness concerns.

But advancements in that role haven’t changed his strategy. On Saturday, Dyche had legitimate choices in Nathan Patterson, Arnaut Danjuma, and Beto, but he only went to Patterson and Patterson in the last minutes. “I have put that 11 out there for a reason, because they are the best 11 to win the game,” was a statement that Dyche made in defense of his stance. That’s where I’m starting from. Which 11—whoever that 11 is—has the ability to win this football game?

This opinion has not changed despite the longer games brought on by more stoppage times. As a result, Dyche has modified training plans to increase physical fitness. In terms of squad management, he feels that Everton’s current situation does not warrant the use of substitutes to shield players, even for teams playing in European competition. “We keep moving from there, with the focus remaining on the next game being the most important,” he stated.

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