Everton manager Sean Dyche has insisted that his side’s midweek 1-0 defeat to non-league Chester was ‘all about one man’ – Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The friendly loss played behind closed doors at Finch Farm was allegedly arranged with the primary purpose of testing the fitness of Calvert-Lewin, who hasn’t featured in a competitive game since early February.
With the striker set to make his return in the Toffees’ crucial clash against Crystal Palace on Saturday, he could potentially give Dyche’s team the boost they need to survive relegation – with Everton only outside the drop zone on goal difference.
Despite the result, Dyche has insisted that the friendly against Chester served its purpose.
“If we’d have won it 16-0 and Dom didn’t score and got injured, what would you have been talking about then? Would you have been talking about something else?” Dyche said.
“If we’d have lost 3-0 and Dom got injured, what would be the thinking? Exactly. So therefore it was always about Dom.
“Three-nil would have been an eye-raising scoreline, so’s 1-0 – but it still wouldn’t have been what I’m looking for.
“The outcome I was looking for was: ‘Can Dom play football and run around?’ Which he can.”
Dyche wants a reaction after Fulham loss
Indeed, in typical Dyche fashion, the ex-Burnley boss has refused to be drawn in on the criticism circulating on social media regarding relegation-threatened Everton losing to Chester.
“You have got to stick to the outcomes, because the rest of it sometimes has to be less important than that,” he added.
“That is the absolute outcome on this occasion. On another occasion if he was fully fit and everyone else was, I’d be going ‘hang on a minute’.
“But on this occasion, I had to stay focused on the prize, and this prize was for him to stay fit. And that is really important because look at the noise, look at what the noise has all been about since I came to the club.
“Apart from the ownership all the noise has been about Calvert-Lewin. And we’ve been working really hard with the physios, with the medics, to make sure we give him the best possible opportunity to be as fully fit as possible.”
As mentioned, Calvert-Lewin’s impending return could be a game changer for Everton, with goal scoring undoubtedly their biggest issue this season.
In fact, the Toffees have scored the joint-least in the Premier League, with back up strikers Neal Maupay and Ellis Simms only contributing two between them.
Now, Dyche is looking for a reaction to Everton’s recent 3-1 defeat to Fulham at Goodison Park.
On that, the manager said: “It doesn’t change everything. There’s plenty of football to be played. It’s important to react against what happened because you can’t always control every game.