Sean Dyche enjoyed a standing ovation on his return to Burnley before his in-form Everton side silenced Turf Moor with a 2-0 win which increases the Clarets’ relegation worries at the foot of the Premier League table.
Dyche was back at the ground where he spent the best part of 10 years in charge, twice earning promotion and keeping Burnley in the top flight against the odds before being sacked in April 2022 towards the end of their last, ultimately unsuccessful, battle against the drop.
His Everton side are not that far from the current relegation fight but only as a result of a 10-point penalty for breaching financial rules, and first-half goals from Amadou Onana and Michael Keane made it four straight wins. They may sit 16th, but would be ninth without the penalty.
Keane’s 25th minute goal was his first of the season on his first appearance since October 21. Alongside him was Ben Godfrey, making his first league start of the season in a side hastily reshuffled following late withdrawals.
“I was delighted,” Dyche said. “We’re a side pieced together yesterday morning. We lost Myko (Vitaliy Mykolenko) with a tight groin and because we’ve got injuries and suspensions we can’t risk players so we had to change everything in a morning.
“Their acceptance to go and deliver a performance that can win was very pleasing.”
While Vincent Kompany used his programme notes to welcome Dyche back to Turf Moor, it was notable that the man who sacked him, chairman Alan Pace, did not mention Dyche in his own. But Dyche said he had no issues with his old boss, and he was grateful for the reception he got.
“I saw Alan Pace this morning, in the hotel where we were staying, and said hello,” said Dyche. “Football is a weird business, I didn’t throw my dummy out, I’ve done my bit, done my years at Burnley and I shook his hand and said have a nice season, crack on.
“I met Vinny at the end of last season and told him how impressed I was with his work. Said how he hadn’t lost the fabric of it but changed it to his own liking. We can all moan about everyone and everything but people have a lot on their plate. I just try and take care of mine and get on with it.”
For Burnley it was another damaging defeat that leaves them off the bottom of the table on goal difference alone, with only eight points from 17 games.
Kompany’s side played well before falling behind and improved in the second half but rarely threatened Jordan Pickford’s goal.
“We’ve been done on two set plays,” Kompany said. “There’s not too much to say about the overall defending and attacking play. It was more about both boxes today.”
The big positive for Burnley was the return of Lyle Foster, who was back among the substitutes after a period away dealing with mental health issues, and started the second half for his first appearance since October.
“It was a surprise to us,” Kompany said. “We hadn’t expected that he would be able to return but it was the opinion of the experts that keeping him in his natural environment, football is part of his life, is something he needs to do to be happy.
“Forty-five minutes was roughly what he was able to do physically and the second half showed how much of an impact he can have. But it’s important to say this is part of his process of getting back.”