Everton manager Sean Dyche is desperate to change a mentality he believes has contributed to the club’s woeful away form and largely resulted in a second successive relegation battle.
The Toffees have not won away since beating Southampton on October 1 and since then there have been just four draws in 12 matches on the road, with two of those points coming at Nottingham Forest and Chelsea last month.
Nine points from a potential 45 away from home in the current campaign is a continuation of problems from last season, when they won just twice and finished with 10 points from 19 away matches.
It is only their home form, from which they have accrued 18 points from 16 matches, which has prevented them from sinking even further in the table than their current 17th position by virtue of a superior goal difference to Nottingham Forest.
Dyche believes some players have struggled to adapt to the requirements of playing away from the safety of Goodison Park and accepts that needs to change with games remaining at Crystal Palace, fellow strugglers Leicester, Brighton and Wolves.
“It’s a bit different here because I walked into a situation where the record hasn’t been great for a couple of seasons,” said Dyche. “It is more a case of working it out with the players here.
“For sure it’s tactical but it’s also a mentality thing.
“You have players who have to be ready as if it is a home game and deliver like it is a home game.
“Some players find it more tricky than others because of the home support, but generally speaking it’s a mental shift and taking on the challenge.
“The noise has been long enough now that people say ‘They can’t do this away’, ‘they can’t do that away’ so let’s change that story.
“You can’t wait for some magic dust to change it. That’s what I’ve been relaying to the players. let’s change the rhetoric of the story.”
Dyche has looked at all aspects surrounding away matches in terms of training regimes, travel plans, nutrition and even the types of beds his players are sleeping on, but he felt it came down to delivering on the pitch.
“You are trying to look for everything but at the end of the day you can put all that aside because when the whistle blows the mentality has to be right from everyone to be pushing hard to win,” he said.
Everton are boosted by the long-awaited return of striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has made just 12 appearances this season and been sidelined with a hamstring issue for more than two months.
His only appearance for Dyche came in his first match in charge after replacing Frank Lampard, but he played in a behind-closed-doors 1-0 friendly defeat against National League North side Chester this week.
“He’ll certainly be in the thinking, without a doubt. The game the other day was all about him, it was basically for the end of a rehab period,” Dyche added.
Everton are the league’s joint-lowest scorers with 24 goals and expectations are huge on their main centre-forward, but Dyche hopes Calvert-Lewin embraces that.
“You put yourself in a bracket of top player for a reason – because of your delivery of performance,” he said.
“You kind of want that, you want that prestige which comes with people going ‘You’re a top player’, so go and enjoy that.
“I don’t think there is any other pressure, there’s certainly no pressure from me other than him to get fit and join in what we’re trying to achieve.”