By Carl Markham, PA
Everton manager Sean Dyche has drilled into his side the need for a “relentless mentality” as he seeks to improve their game management.
Despite taking the lead twice at Nottingham Forest last weekend, they were pegged back in a 2-2 draw.
Their two victories under the former Burnley boss, who replaced Frank Lampard at the end of January, have both been 1-0 and Dyche believes his players have to recognise crucial moments in matches in order to get the balance right.
“A manager’s dream; if you speak to the best managers they love a 1-0,” he said.
“You can never guarantee any score, the only worry about scorelines is how you are managing the game.
“What I do know is the relentless mentality I want from the players and we have been speaking about that with them.
“Anything is achievable at any given moment so we take on the game until the last breath.
“These are all learning curves. You have to remember these players are wise players, a lot of them have been in the Premier League for a long time and they know the details and that is the frustrating thing.
“You want to play and enjoy it but you know there is a professional responsibility and the players should understand that.
“You win because you get everything right all the way through a 90-minute match.
“We have never wanted pure football every time, it is ‘how many times can you affect the opposition?’.
“It is reading the game, understanding the nature of the game and game management as you mature as a player and a group.
“Knowing the moments when to be more attacking, that is on-pitch stuff. You can only coach so many things on the training ground.”
After two wins, both at home, in Dyche’s first three matches, the draw at Forest was the only point Everton have taken in three subsequent games.
However, the manager insists progress is being made and he knows that will be tested in Saturday’s home clash with Brentford, who have not lost in the Premier League since October.
“All of us would take a lucky one now and again but you can’t build on lucky ones, you have to build on something that is real,” he added.
“I see something that is real, I see the team working efficiently, the shape getting better and finding better ways in the attacking third.”
Having struggled without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has just returned to training after a month out with a persistent hamstring injury, Dyche got a performance out of Demarai Gray as a makeshift centre-forward against Forest.
The winger’s penalty made him the club’s top scorer this season with just four goals but his manager believes there is something to work with.
“I thought he did well. We are asking him to change a little but I think Demarai showed signs of what he can do,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed his open-mindedness to it because he has played there but it is not always familiar to him.”