Is Frank Lampard the right man for the Everton job after failure as Chelsea manager?
Everton are a club with big ambitions. They spoke of finishing in the top six and challenging for Champions League qualification when billionaire businessman Farhad Moshiri completed a takeover of the club nearly six years ago. Instead, the Toffees now find themselves facing a fight to merely stay in the Premier League.
Rafael Benitez’s position as manager was made untenable by a run of results that saw Everton win just one of 14 fixtures. Frank Lampard has been appointed his replacement and there is renewed optimism at Goodison Park that the club can turn things around and enjoy a more fruitful second half of the season.
Lampard needs this job just as much as Everton need Lampard to save them from the threat of the drop. The 43-year-old’s last role saw him sacked by Chelsea just months before his replacement, Thomas Tuchel, led the Stamford Bridge club to Champions League glory. That in itself was enough to call Lampard’s reputation as a coach into question.
While Lampard did a lot to bring through a number of young players during his time as Chelsea boss, re-establishing the link between the academy ranks and the first team at Stamford Bridge, his team was defensively vulnerable. Chelsea instead looked to Tuchel to give them the structure needed to get the most out of their undeniably talented squad.
Only a handful of Premier League teams have conceded more goals than Everton this season and so Lampard’s appointment as the man to stem that flow doesn’t make much sense. The former midfielder was also criticised during his time at Chelsea for a perceived lack of tactical nous. This was further exposed by the immediate success enjoyed by Tuchel.
This might not necessarily be a bad thing for Everton. Under Benitez, the Toffees were too rigid. The Spaniard didn’t do much to shift away from his favoured 4-4-2 shape when it clearly wasn’t working. Whether by design or not, there will be more fluidity to Lampard’s side. This could be good news for a number of players in the Everton squad.
With the fallout from Benitez’s tenure still floating around Goodison Park, Lampard is entering a toxic situation. He doesn’t just have to win hearts and minds in the Everton dressing room, but in the stands too. This is a club that has seen the connection between the players and the fans fragment in recent times and Lampard must address this.
At Chelsea, Lampard’s use of the youth academy helped in root his team in the local community, and in the community of the club’s fanbase, and he might be wise to do something similar at Everton. Anthony Gordon has made his first team breakthrough this season and there are others who could follow the precedent he has set.
There isn’t much time for Lampard to turn Everton around with pivotal Premier League fixtures against Newcastle United and Leeds United on the horizon. The Toffees need this appointment to work because the stakes have rarely been higher for a club that simply can’t allow itself to drop down to the second tier.