Sean Dyche is loving the challenge of leading Everton’s fight against relegation from the Premier League.
The 51-year-old has taken two wins from his three matches in charge of the Toffees, and will look to make it three in a row at Goodison Park when Aston Villa visit on Saturday.
However, Everton remain in the thick of the relegation scrap. They sit in 16th place, only one point above the drop zone and three above basement boys Southampton.
But Dyche said the response shown by players and staff at the club since he arrived could be the platform for success.
“I’ve walked into an environment where people work hard which is a great start,” Dyche said. “With the players equally there’s an open-mindedness to it and that’s a great start.
“It’s not about easy or hard – no job is easy, it’s always about hard work. We’ve got a way of working that can develop between the people here and my mini-group that has come in, then working with the players.
“That’s the end product that you want, to get the players in the best shape mentally, physically and tactically to give performances. So far it’s been very enjoyable. Yes, it’s a big challenge but it’s very enjoyable.”
Home wins over Arsenal and Leeds, either side of a derby defeat at Liverpool, have lifted Everton out of the bottom three and lifted the sense of gloom – at least on the pitch – at Goodison.
Dyche’s cause has been further boosted by confirmation on Friday that England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract.
“It’s massive to sign this new contract at such a special club for me,” Pickford told evertontv.
“The past few seasons have not been what we wanted but we now have a manager who I believe will point us in the right direction and get us up the table. It’s definitely my aim to be successful at this club.”
However, amid a backdrop of continuing fan protests against the club board and with so many sides caught up in the scrap at the bottom, the job of getting out of trouble will take much more than a couple of wins.
It is a challenge Saturday’s visitors faced themselves earlier in the season, with a poor start leading to Steven Gerrard’s exit in October.
Villa were just one point above the drop zone before kick-off in Unai Emery’s first game in charge at the start of November, but a 3-1 win over Manchester United that day began a revival which has lifted them up to 11th.
However, they come into the match on the back of three straight defeats, going down 4-2 to Leicester at the start of the month before being beaten in consecutive matches by title contenders Manchester City and Arsenal.
“The new manager went in and changed things, certainly enough in my eyes,” Dyche said. “I was at their first game against Manchester United and I saw some changes immediately as he tried to instill his ways of working.
“They’ve had a bit of a sticky patch but they’ve played two of the top sides in the last three and Leicester were very good on the day.
“Everyone probably thought they had a tough start but they were better than that and they’ve been better than that. It’s a tough league for everyone.”
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