Sean Dyche has heaped praise on Dwight McNeil for his progress since the pair were reunited.
Dyche gave McNeil his break at Burnley, bringing him into the first team and giving him a platform to earn vast experience in the Premier League at a young age. McNeil made the move to Merseyside in the summer while Dyche, who departed Burnley near the end of the last campaign, followed his former player in January.
Both swiftly put to bed rumours of a bust-up between the pair and McNeil’s form has dramatically improved - offering credibility to their claims no rift existed between them.
McNeil endured a difficult start to his Everton career amid several false dawns - including the brace he scored in the final friendly of pre-season, against Dynamo Kyiv, and the spectacular winner at Southampton in October. Since the turn of the year he has emerged as one of Everton’s best performers, a rise seemingly turbocharged under Dyche.
After failing to register a goal or an assist in the whole of last season McNeil now has 10 goal involvements during this campaign - seven goals and three assists. He was the best player on the pitch as he scored two and created two in the rout of Brighton and Dyche praised him in detail after the defeat to Manchester City.
Asked what he had been impressed by, Dyche said: “Everything, his commitment, his ability to deal with the ball, his ability to be adaptable - he had to play deeper at times because Mason [Holgate] is not a natural full-back then his ability to still be effective in a change of shape. He’s been terrific since I’ve been back with him and I want him to keep enjoying his football but also taking it on. I thought at Brighton he took it on. He is a player who is still maturing in my view and he is grasping and grabbing it and taking things forward and making things happen and that is very pleasing for him and pleasing for us.”
Despite his side falling to a 3-0 defeat to Man City, Dyche was positive after the game and gave credit to several players. He said: “I thought there were some outstanding performances, I thought Dwight McNeil was absolutely outstanding, I thought Doucs [Abdoulaye Doucoure] was with his constant energy, Conor Coady came on and affected it with a change of shape and Patto [Nathan Patterson] is growing again and maturing as a player and I said that all along, he is earning the right to be a proper Premier League player and he has done terrific since he got into the side and these are good signs - Ama [Onana] came on and tried to affect it. The mentality is important and it is important over the next two games because they are very tough games for different reasons.”
Everton collapse but Man City truth is clear as Premier League fight goes on
- Everton player ratings as one awful and five poor in Manchester City defeat
Roy Keane delivers brutal Pickford verdict after Everton loss