Everton’s points deduction could bring out their best

Sport

Everton were already preparing for a fight against relegation. Having narrowly avoided the drop last season, the Toffees were once again in the relegation picture near the bottom of the Premier League table when news of a 10-point deduction for violating financial rules broke. Everton’s fight against relegation could now be a desperate scrap for survival.

An appeal could see the punishment reduced, but the deduction could bring the best out of Everton as a team – and a club. Goodison Park has been a toxic environment at times over the last two seasons, but the Everton fanbase will almost certainly unite behind their side to create a siege mentality around the club.

In a sense, the timing of the 10-point deduction is good from Everton’s perspective. Had the Toffees been handed a similar punishment last season, they would have suffered relegation given they only finished above the bottom three by two points. It would have been the same the season before when they avoided the drop by just four points. Nonetheless, the challenge is clear with Everton now second bottom of the table.

Sean Dyche is the perfect manager to have in a situation like this. The 52-year-old will use the siege mentality to further strengthen the resolve of his players which had already hardened after a good run of form which saw Everton win six of their last nine fixtures in all competitions. The Toffees have turned a corner.

This has been clear in the recent performances produced. Dyche has set his team up with wingers who get forward down the wide channels to get crosses into Dominic Calvert-Lewin as the focal point of the attack. Behind Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucoure is there to provide drive through the middle and pick up second balls.

At the back, Everton have two physical central defenders in the form of James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite with Andre Onana and James Garner giving the Toffees a solid basis in the centre of the pitch too. Dyche has recycled the blueprint that worked so well for him over a number of years at Burnley. Dyche-ball is back.

It might not be pretty, but Dyche’s approach is highly effective and it has received buy-in from players and fans. The latter is important because not every Everton manager in recent times has been able to establish a connection between the team on the pitch and the supporters in the stands. Rafael Benitez and Frank Lampard failed in this regard.

Everton fans are generally realistic about the club’s current situation. They know challenging for European football is out of reach at the moment. They’re aware of the financial pressure constructing a new stadium is placing on the club. They appreciate that, for the time being, merely staying in the Premier League is the aim. Everton simply can’t afford to drop down a division.

There is anger at the way the club has been run since Farhad Moshiri’s takeover in 2016, but that has been bubbling away for a long time. Moshiri already knows what the fans think of the mistakes made over the last seven years. That Everton were under investigation for financial irregularities in the first place is a failure of the Moshiri era.

Now, though, Everton fans have a different target to aim their fury at. The club as a whole must channel its frustration into positive performances to ensure the 10-point deduction doesn’t send them down. Sunday’s home match against Manchester United could set the tone for a rousing fight – not just against relegation, but the Premier League.

Author: Mark Hayes