Lampard thrown in at the deep end at directionless Everton
The mood at Goodison Park could not have been lower after the departure of Rafael Benitez. It was clear from the off that the former Liverpool manager would face an uphill struggle. Quality performances on the pitch and a challenge for a European spot would have been enough to turn the tide for the Spaniard, but drab football and poor results ended his tenure.
The timing of Benitez’s dismissal was all the more curious after the sacking of Marcel Brands as Director of Football at Everton just one month prior. Benitez seemingly won the battle behind the scenes at the club for control over transfers, but now that Farhad Moshiri has pulled the plug on his reign, Everton are once more in the cycle of new management.
There was a bizarre period when Vitor Pereira suggested that he had been offered the job before the club eventually opted to hand the post to Frank Lampard. The former England midfielder performed a solid job with Derby County, but did not rise to the occasion at Chelsea before Thomas Tuchel used the same squad to win the Champions League. There will be natural doubts over Lampard’s ability to right the ship at Goodison Park.
Given the situation the Toffees still find themselves in in the top flight, if you’re feeling opportunistic, a football bet of the day would be to back Everton to be relegated from the Premier League for the first time. Due to the chaos elsewhere at the bottom of the table, Everton should be safe from the drop, but the Toffees cannot afford to take anything for granted at this stage, especially due to the injuries to key players that have mounted up over the course of the campaign. Even if the club remains in the Premier League, issues could linger into the summer regarding the key men at Goodison Park.
Despite the appointment of Lampard, there appear to be no clear answers regarding a style or system for the future, such has been the short-term vision of Moshiri in the boardroom. Everton have not progressed since 2017/2018 when Sam Allardyce was hired to replace Ronald Koeman. Lampard has not been renowned for his tactical insight in his positions to date, although you could argue that he has the perfect platform at his disposal to change that perception.
Everton’s issues stem from their perspective of success and they’re not alone in this regard. Big Sam guided the club into eighth place in the table with a strong run in the second half of the season, albeit the football played was enough to send Pep Guardiola into a coma. No manager since has bettered that outcome, even Carlo Ancelotti was powerless in ushering the Toffees towards 12th and 10th-place finishes in his 18 months in the dugout.
Due to the vast amount of turnover in managers, Everton’s squad now resembles a mishmash of the visions of several different architects. Cenk Tosun remains in the ranks from Allardyce’s reign, despite being deemed surplus to requirements by Marco Silva, Ancelotti and Benitez. Tosun epitomizes the scattergun approach of Everton in the transfer market that has resulted in a £550 million spent on a team that has no structure or clear identity of how to approach the Premier League term.
That is why the situation is dangerous both in the short term and in the future. Lampard will not have a lot of room for manoeuvre in the transfer market in the summer, and unless performances improve by a significant amount, the Toffees will surely not be able to qualify for Europe unless they reach the final of the FA Cup. Key players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison will be looking to take the next step in their careers and have been linked with moves away from Goodison Park. Lampard’s priority is ensuring that those players remain with the team for the long term, but unless they stage a dramatic rise up the table, it could be out of his hands.
Moshiri may have doused the flames somewhat with the appointment of Lampard, but the root cause of Everton’s issues is still burning. The relatively young football coach has his work cut out for him.