Everton manager's harsh pre-season methods paying off after strong form
The Everton manager shocked fans with his brutal training methods in pre-season but they seem to have paid off in the long-term.
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When Sean Dyche's 'Gaffer's Day' was introduced in his first pre-season with the club, some questioned the methods but they are certainly paying off now.
In short, Dyche puts his players through their paces in a testing training session early in the pre-season programme. Former Burnley forward Andre Gray claimed "it’s one of those days we all dread" as Dyche essentially gets his side running for near to two hours. There are no balls allowed, a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, a focus on pushing through mental barriers in an attempt to replicate the distance/intensity of a full game.
Dyche looked to implement such methods during his first few sessions in late-January when he arrived at the club, immediately installing high fitness levels as a priority by putting the squad through punishing bleep tests.
The statistics show that the pre-season efforts have paid off, as Everton rank second for most distance (1255km), sixth for most sprints (1,602) and are top of the league for most individual player pressures (2,416). Perhaps that is a huge factor in why they have managed to turn around their form and win six of their last nine games in all competitions.
Dyche defended the use of the methods, at the time saying: "Gaffer's Day is not really about sports science, it's about the mentality to do the work that's on offer. "We then reflect on it and actually show the players the GPS stats. It represents a very high-level Premier League match. But the players don't know that until afterwards when you reflect on it via the GPS. "Gaffer's Day always implies this imaginary picture of them getting flogged to bits. It's not that. There's a lot of sense to it and a lot of planning to it."
We reported not long ago that Everton were second in Europe's top five leagues for direct play, which took into account metrics such as sprints during possession p90, 'call-for-the-ball' runs in space (%) and km covered by the ball in possession.
Combining that with a more settled starting eleven that has all of their key players fully fit and firing has also been a main factor.
Plus, having Jack Harrison as a natural winger has added balance and it's also meant that James Garner has been able to play central where he's free to maximise his full game, rather than playing out of position on the right.
Dyche's no-nonsense methods have brought success simply by improving the basics, and their ability to compete certainly cannot be questioned anymore.