As the Premier League approaches its final stages, the bottom eight teams are embroiled in a fierce relegation battle, which could be one of the greatest ever seen, writes the LiverpoolEcho. For the second season in a row, Everton finds itself in the mix, indicating that their miraculous survival last season was not a one-time occurrence. Last season, the Blues relied on the spirit of Goodison Park to come from behind and defeat Crystal Palace to avoid relegation to the Championship.
Despite hopes that Frank Lampard would show his true managerial talent with a full pre-season and transfer window, Everton struggled in the league and only had three wins before the World Cup break. Following back-to-back losses to relegation rivals Bournemouth, one in the League Cup and one in the league, a change seemed necessary. Although many feel that Everton’s decision to sack Lampard was too late, considering the context of the season and the panic among other teams, bringing in Sean Dyche may have given Everton an advantage.
Since Dyche’s appointment in February, Everton has shown grit and a willingness to learn his ways, which has kept them clear of the drop zone. This change in mentality has transformed Everton from being one of the favorites for relegation to arguably the form side in the bottom eight. Dyche has picked up 12 points from nine games, including three wins and three draws, and Everton is unbeaten in their last four matches.
As the run-in approaches, other teams are beginning to panic, and some are already considering hiring “firefighter managers” to give them a short-term boost. Even former Everton boss David Moyes is under pressure due to West Ham’s poor performance this season, and Southampton has sacked two managers and hired the unproven Ruben Selles. Meanwhile, Leeds United brought in Javi Gracia, and Crystal Palace rehired Roy Hodgson, all after Everton brought in Dyche.
Although Everton may have waited too long to make the decision to sack Lampard, the team now has a stable platform to build on for the rest of the campaign with Dyche pushing the players to never give up. This is something that almost every team fighting relegation could use, but instead, they will be scrambling to find someone to give them a short-term boost.