Frank Lampard wants his Everton flops ‘to engage the fans’ against Newcastle, but their disastrous season has left many relationships BROKEN… supporters are fed up with a lack of fight and quality, and only a handful of players can hold their heads high
- Relegation-threatened Everton face a crucial fixture against Newcastle tonight
- Frank Lampard has called on his side to ‘engage the fans’ with passionate display
- But their torrid season has seen a breakdown in relationship with the supporters
- Sportsmail looks at the players who have impressed and who needs to improve
Crisis has been a word often associated with Everton this season, but such has been the growing threat of relegation that the cliche ‘every game is a cup final’ may just apply to them until May.
Their D-Day meeting with Newcastle on Thursday evening is the first fixture in a run to the end of the season which will ultimately determine whether their top-flight status will remain intact come the end of the season.
It is not a situation boss Frank Lampard will be accustomed to given his playing career at Chelsea and his managerial stints with the Blues and Derby in the Championship.
Frank Lampard has called on his Everton side to ‘engage with fans’ against Newcastle
The relegation-threatened Toffees sit 17th in the table, albeit with games in hand on 18th place
But his words on Wednesday were from a manager wanting his players to show some steel and resilience for the rest of the campaign.
‘Tomorrow we’re expecting everyone together fighting,’ he said. ‘Every game is so important, there are 12 of them left and they’re massive.
‘At Goodison we want to be together. I want the players to start well, we have to engage the fans and when we do that together we’re a force.’
The truth, however, is that too often this season, the Everton squad have left their supporters disillusioned rather than enthused following a series of abject displays.
It has left the connection and relationship between players and fans at Everton at arguably its worst for decades.
So who is up for the fight? Which players are going through the motions and who simply hasn’t been good enough? Sportsmail looks at Everton’s squad ahead of a crucial run-in.
Without doubt Everton’s best player recently, and while that is perhaps not the praise it would mean in years gone by, he is still one of the first names on the teamsheet at just 21 years old.
The rare spark in an otherwise dismal display against Wolves on Sunday, he is often the player adding verve and panache to a struggling Everton attacking line-up, while his effort has also shown up his team-mates.
His honesty that he has been looking at the table with his side sat 17th is appreciated by the fans too, and there is genuine optimism that among all the doom and gloom, they have unearthed a gem in the winger.
Anthony Gordon (centre) has been the bright spark recently amid a torrid run of poor form
Despite recent calls for Aaron Ramsdale to take the England No 1 jersey off him, Gareth Southgate would have little evidence to justify it.
He was at fault for Son Heung-min’s goal in their 5-0 thrashing by Tottenham, but without some of his saves and all-round performances Everton could even be in the bottom three right now.
Fans have even called for him to be handed the captain’s armband for the rest of the season, and with support for Seamus Coleman waning, he appears a viable option.
The talk of the town at the start of the season with three goals in his opening four Premier League games, but he has struggled to repeat such displays amid the club’s form dropping off a cliff.
His goals against Liverpool and Arsenal in December demonstrated he is still capable of adding a spark and net crucial goals for Lampard’s men, which is a priceless quality in a relegation fight.
With other options floundering, the 25-year-old should therefore – despite his recent lack of end product – be a guaranteed starter as Lampard tries to find an attack that can push them to safety.
Demarai Gray has dropped off after a brilliant start but winger should be persisted with
POINT TO PROVE
Had this been written last year, the defender would have been in the category above.
However, all the momentum the 24-year-old built up in 2020-21 has been lost due to Covid and injuries, the latest of which was a hamstring problem suffered in Lampard’s first game and which kept him out until Sunday’s defeat by Wolves.
Few can fault the effort he is putting in or his versatility, having filled in on the left-hand side of the defence admirably since his arrival at Goodison Park.
But when he has been fit he hasn’t settled into the team or found any form – a worrying trait among a few members of the squad – and Everton desperately need him to back to his best.
Signed on a free from Tottenham in January, fears have already emerged that Alli could – like many in this list – prove to be another mistake made in the transfer market.
The attacking midfielder is still waiting to start his first game for the Toffees, but when he has come off the bench he has managed to contribute very little.
Against Wolves he won only one of his eight challenges as well as being caught offside three times, giving the sense he has yet to find his feet.
His form for Tottenham between 2015-18 means Everton will always be hopeful that the 25-year-old could suddenly spring to life. But currently the overriding feeling is one of alarm following Daniel Levy’s decision to give him away for nothing.
Dele Alli is still waiting to start his first Everton game and has contributed little off the bench
Donny van de Beek
Another new signing, but also another midfielder who generated excitement before ultimately flattering to deceive.
Few were wondering why an underperforming Manchester United had offered the Holland international so few chances before sending him out on loan after he impressed on his full Toffees debut against Leeds.
But that match already feels a long time ago, and despite a decent performance against Man City, the midfielder has nothing in terms of goals or assists to show for it.
Too often has he gone missing during away defeats and positivity towards him has quickly worn off. But there is still optimism he could form a solid midfield trio with Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Donny van de Beek’s impressive full debut against Leeds now seems but a distant memory
Frank Lampard has seen the attack become an overbearing concern in the last few weeks. The Toffees made it four Premier League games without a goal as fears of Premier League relegation intensified following their 1-0 defeat by Wolves.
At the crux of their issues is the lack of goals from a forward who has scored just four league goals this season in Richarlison, whose only Premier League strike in 2022 so far came in January’s defeat at Norwich.
Getting on the end of chances was not Richarlison’s issue at the weekend, but nothing he tried came off and his repetitive failure to get Everton back into the game drew groans from the Goodison Park faithful.
A number of injuries have certainly hindered him further, and a dysfunctional side is not conducive to getting the best out of the Brazilian. But with his partner in crime Dominic Calvert-Lewin out of form and lacking fitness, Lampard will look to him to keep Everton alive in the top flight.
He appeared to start the season as he finished the last in which he scored 21 goals, netting three in his first three matches of 2021-22.
But he then suffered a fractured toe and he has not been the same player since returning from that long-term issue.
The expectation from fans for him to immediately start smashing the goals in again remains and could be extra pressure which has become a hindrance, but frankly staying fully fit and getting back up to speed are his more immediate concerns.
Richarlison (centre) has struggled for goals while Dominic Calvert-Lewin (left) is still finding form after a fractured toe
A well-liked member of the squad who is appreciated for his selfless style of play, few players have worked harder than Allan in recent seasons.
He established a midfield partnership with Abdoulaye Doucoure after they both joined ahead of the 2020-21 season, but while they have shown they individually can be very good players, that pivot has not really worked.
Allan was dropped for the weekend’s defeat by Wolves but he remains one of the better signings made under the current regime.
Perhaps the 31-year-old would excel as part of midfield three, but his current task will be to demonstrate more determination and show he deserves to be the mainstay in a midfield which may need to be constantly tinkered with before the right system is found.
The other half of the midfield pivot who has shown individual moments of brilliance but has failed to play in a functioning system in the middle of the park.
The Frenchman had a very good start to the season before injury struck and his performance against Wolves demonstrated he is still some way off rediscovering his best form.
But again he appears to be another player who would benefit from playing in a three rather than with just one other midfielder.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (left) and Allan (right) have struggled in a midfield two this season
A defender who a couple of years ago was not out of the question for an England call-up now looks so far off a player capable of functioning at international level.
Smashing a clearance into his centre-back partner’s face in the farce against Tottenham summed up his club’s recent form as well as his own.
He gave a passionate interview last weekend in which he admitted ‘there is no hiding place’ for him and his team-mates, but just like them, his performance simply cannot back up such fighting talk.
However, he has shown previously he can operate at the required level and for as long as he is at the club fans will clutch on to the hope he can rediscover that form.
NNOT GOOD ENOUGH
A fantastic servant for the club who simply does not have the legs at 33 years old to perform at the required level.
Everton’s decision not to replace him with a ready-made full-back in January has left many fans baffled, and has seen the Irishman play more minutes than he perhaps would have expected.
His affection for the club is evident but his displays no longer match those which previously made him one of the Premier League’s most consistent right-backs, summed up by his timid attempt to stop Ruben Neves in their defeat by Wolves on Sunday.
As an elder statesman in the side, Coleman has delivered a number of rallying calls so far this season, most recently following the 5-0 drubbing by Tottenham. The fear is that he now cannot respond to his own fighting talk.
Seamus Coleman simply does not have the legs to perform at the required level anymore
Arguably the worst performer throughout the campaign, which is a worrying trait in an incredibly underperforming Everton side.
His poor form has characterised his Everton career, and the mistakes keep coming, most notably gifting Phil Foden the winner for Manchester City a couple of weeks back.
Making such regular errors has no doubt affected his confidence but fans are worried that it could now impact on him having the necessary mental toughness – and quality for that matter – for the relegation dogfight.
He appears to have very little backing among the fanbase for holding down a place in the team, and there is a commensurate level of doubt regarding his future at the club.
Michael Keane continues to make mistakes and few champion him remaining in the starting XI
Mina’s injuries have become so regular that many feel he cannot be relied upon to play any significant part of a season.
Very few doubt he is the best option available to Frank Lampard at centre-back when he is fit, but that particular criteria has rarely been fulfilled this term following two significant thigh injuries.
Everton would ideally like to sell the Colombia international whether they survive relegation or not, but his injury woes may result in a reluctance from potential suitors to sign him this summer.
Another player whose endeavour and fight on the pitch can rarely be faulted, but similarly another man who just is not up to the task.
Has no doubt tried to help Everton out of certain sticky situations by playing out of position at left-back and centre-back under Lampard, but his quality fails to match his effort.
The silly red card he received in the defeat by Wolves after clumsy challenges on Jonny Otto and Raul Jimenez sums up the stage he – and his Everton career for that matter – is at.
Jonjoe Kenny’s effort cannot be faulted but his red card on Sunday showed where he is at
Another signing who generated much excitement at Goodison Park when he arrived from Barcelona, but now has left supporters disillusioned.
No doubt injuries have played a significant part in his drop off in form over the past couple of seasons, but a midfielder who used to silkily glide around the pitch now cannot muster much impact at all.
He has failed to back up any bright appearance he does make, most notably the horrific display off the bench in the defeat by Southampton last month.
Lampard has not called on his services since, and that is particularly telling given that their midfield is currently far from settled or functioning.
Incredibly unlucky with fitness this season, with a knee injury suffered against Tottenham in November ruling him out initially.
He then suffered a thigh problem in December while working his way back to full fitness and then underwent hamstring surgery in January.
It has robbed him of the chance to impress Lampard, though his form earlier in the season gave no indication that he would have in any case. The 23-year-old has struggled to kick on after breaking through into the first team in 2016.
Used sparingly this season, his career at Everton was summed up in the 5-2 home defeat by Watford in October, scoring a goal but then having his lack of mobility in midfield exposed on a few occasions.
With the midfield needing a complete reset, perhaps it is best for the former England U21 star to seek a fresh challenge.
Injuries have played their part but Andre Gomes (left) no longer looks able to impact games
Bar a decent game or two from the former Manchester City man, Delph has underwhelmed when given the chance this season.
The midfielder has continued to struggle with injuries at Goodison Park and only when an injury crisis arose under Lampard’s predecessor Rafael Benitez was he given a few games.
He has only managed to play 30 matches in the Premier League for the Merseyside outfit since joining from Manchester City in 2019, and given that he is out of contract at Goodison Park in June, neither party will be particularly keen for it to be extended.
Another big-money star who has failed to deliver any sort of consistency since being brought to the club.
His performance against Leeds last month was encouraging – albeit frustrating given his lack of end product – and a desire to work hard is ever-present when he steps on to the pitch.
But he was non-existent against Southampton and Man City in matches since and has remained an unused substitute in the last two games.
Fans are fearful he may not be the sort of character required in a bid to preserve their top-flight status, and many would not be surprised to see the £35million star go down as one of club’s worst ever signings following his move from Arsenal nearly three years ago.
Alex Iwobi (right) is another big-money signing who has struggled to find any consistency
Followed Benitez to Goodison Park from China and now the vast majority of fans believe he should join the Spaniard in being shoved out of the exit door.
The Venezuelan was a favourite of the former Real Madrid and Liverpool boss but the summer deadline day signing proves week after week that the Premier League is beyond him now, however encouraging his FA Cup exploits against Boreham Wood.
Lampard requires competition on the bench in the attacking areas, particularly with Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin off colour. Sadly for him, the 32-year-old is a million miles away from being that reliable option.
Another signing who has not only failed but has not even made a Premier League appearance under Lampard.
His £27m move from Besiktas in 2018 now looks to be an expensive flop who few deemed to be of the required standard when he first joined.
Benitez had little faith in him and Lampard appears to lack it too, meaning the forward is headed for a move on a free in the summer.
Salomon Rondon followed Rafa Benitez to Everton but many want him to follow him out of club
A signing who is not held in as much contempt as others given he came in on a free transfer and has been a model professional since arriving on Merseyside. But Townsend simply no longer fits the bill.
He got off to a terrific start at Everton, recording an assist on his debut and scoring three goals in his first seven top-flight games following his free transfer from Crystal Palace.
But since Lampard’s arrival the continuity he enjoyed under Benitez has disappeared, starting just one top-flight game under the ex-Chelsea boss.
That has had an impact on his performances, with the ex-Spurs man struggling to make an impact against Boreham Wood. Pace has never been his greatest asset and at 30, Everton need younger options in his position.
Virtually frozen out by Lampard, the January signing has not been given the chance to demonstrate his talent, leaving fans increasingly baffled by the club’s decision to sign them.
Coleman’s form has highlighted the urgent need for a ready-made replacement but he has made just one appearance for the Toffees, and was hooked at half-time during that game in the FA Cup clash against Boreham Wood.
‘He’s one for the now and one for the future. He just has to stay patient keep working and I’ll find the right time for him to come into the team,’ Lampard said this week.
While the 20-year-old may demonstrate such patience, the fans may not when it comes to addressing that position.
January signing Nathan Patterson has been frozen out, making just one Toffees appearance
Brought in as the Lucas Digne replacement following the Frenchman’s acrimonious exit for Aston Villa, Mykolenko has been restricted to just three Premier League appearances.
The Ukrainian has undoubtedly had more important matters on his mind but the 22-year-old looks a shadow of the player Digne was.
Yet very little frustration is being directed at him, instead towards the recruitment department with the signings not paying off so far.
Anwar El Ghazi
There was complete bemusement at the signing of the Dutchman, and that has caused more ire in the direction of those wearing the suits.
It is therefore no surprise that a player recruited by Farhad Moshiri – despite Benitez not being particularly keen on the signing – has struggled to make an impact.
Just two substitute appearances under Lampard shows he clearly does not fancy him, and there is more uncertainty about just why he was brought in on loan to seemingly just take up a space in the squad.
There has been complete bemusement at Goodison Park over Anwar El Ghazi’s loan signing
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