Everton’s early-season improvement, based around Lampard’s recruitment of Conor Coady and James Tarkowski, produced a rearguard that briefly had the division’s best defensive record. Yet some of his early-season successes, like Alex Iwobi, Nathan Patterson and Vitalii Mykolenko, have regressed. The best part of his legacy may be Amadou Onana, but Everton stop resembling a coherent team.
A talisman of their spring surge was Richarlison. Everton’s overspending, which predated Lampard, meant the Brazilian was soon sold. Their difficulty in funding up-front fees meant his replacements ended up being Dwight McNeil and Neal Maupay; it is an indictment of the striker that the winger has outscored him in the Premier League, but neither has offered any potency. Neither really felt his first choice in the market, but Everton’s recruitment became based on who they could get more than who they really wanted.
Frank Lampard has been sacked after less than a year in charge at Everton
Yet their fees will amount to a combined £32 million and Everton paid a price by becoming the second lowest scorers in the division. They ought to have accepted Chelsea’s inflated summer bid for Anthony Gordon: instead, Lampard’s defiance meant they kept a local lad who ended his reign on the bench. That Lampard has never really had a fit and firing Dominic Calvert-Lewin has exacerbated their problems in front of goal.
As Everton unravelled, there were recurring themes. Senior players have a tendency to go off Lampard in time. His Chelsea teams could get caught on the counter-attack and so did Everton. He struggled to find the balance between defence and attack and, when Everton showed solidity earlier in the campaign, Lampard looked to tweak his tactics to add more goals. Instead, Everton conceded more.
Frank Lampard applauds the Everton fans at the London Stadium
With disarming honesty, Lampard recently admitted: “I know I’m not the best coach in the world.”
For a while it seemed as though his evident good intentions, his good relations with both his employers and the supporters, his attempts to add leadership on the pitch and encourage some younger players might be enough.
Yet though he brought a sense of responsibility, he never really recovered from the loss of Richarlison. Now Everton’s alarming slide invites questions where he will manage again and if they are unmanageable.
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