Everton manager Sean Dyche was pleased to see Dwight McNeil’s hard work being rewarded after the winger scored the club’s fastest winner at Goodison Park as his strike after 35 seconds beat Brentford 1-0.
The 23-year-old fired home inside the first minute to end the Bees’ 12-match unbeaten league run and lift his team two points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three.
McNeil, signed by Frank Lampard last season, had been struggling for form prior to the arrival of Dyche – his previous manager at Burnley – and had become a target for fans’ complaints.
However, the forward’s form has improved since starting Dyche’s first match in charge and the last couple of weeks have arguably been his best.
“I think a new manager comes in and I’m a familiar person to him as I gave him his debut,” said Dyche, who has as many wins (three – all 1-0 at home) in his seven matches in charge as Lampard had in 20.
“I am sure he was trying to work for the previous manager but he was still learning and maybe didn’t understand some of the things he was being asked to do but he knows me and my staff.
“I’m pleased for him, I’m pleased to see his work ethic paying him back. He puts a lot of pressure on himself and he’s learning as he gets older to release that pressure.
“He is finding key moments and today he found a moment with a very fine strike.”
Dyche and opposite number Thomas Frank both accepted it was a game of two halves with Everton impressing before the break but the visitors pressing really hard after the interval.
“The first half I thought we were very good. You could argue we should have been further in front with the chances we created,” added Dyche after Demarai Gray had a goal ruled out by VAR for handball.
“Second half, fair play to them, they came back into it. The only thing I’d say was we gave them too many simple turnovers.
“It’s just another step. We have plenty more steps to go. There are strong signs the mentality is growing.”
Frank felt his side did enough to get at least a point from the game.
“I thought they were better than us first half and we were better than Everton second half,” he said.
“It probably didn’t help conceding a goal after 35 seconds.
“We lost the physical battle, the duels and second balls, set-pieces were not good enough and on the ball we were not that good in quality and decision-making.
“The second half was completely opposite: we created a lot more chances which could easily have given us a well-deserved draw.”