The pressure is mounting on Frank Lampard after last night’s disgraceful 4-1 defeat at home to Brighton. So, if he is sacked, who might Everton go for now?
First of all, it’s hard to believe we are all taking about this question yet again after so many coaches have come and gone at Everton over the last six years.
The Farhad Moshiri era has been a truly farcical one in terms of managerial appointments with Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva, Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and finally Lampard all sitting in the home dugout. None have so far lasted more than eighteen months.
It’s a seriously embarrasing litany of false hopes raised and eventually dashed and now it seems as though it’s increasingly likely that Moshiri’s latest appointment and the current incumbant, might be about to get the chop.
Results are ultimately everything in football. And, with the Toffees’ on a terrible run of form with only two points in the Premier League since their last victory over Crystal Palace in October, speculation about his future is certain.
Of course, the individuals who should ultimately be accountable for this awful legacy of instabiltiy and underachievement, is the Board of Directors and the owner himself.
Their failure for years to find the right men to turn the club’s fortunes around, has driven Everton to the brink of disaster with relegation barely avoided last season and now looking increasingly certain at the end of this one.
Will Moshiri heed the vocal and fully understandable frustrations of Blues’ supporters evidenced again last night, both at half-time and at the end of the match, with chants of ‘sack the board’ again ringing around the Grand Old Lady? Given past history it seems unlikely.
This frustration at the seemingly inevitable decline of our club, is what we heard so often last season when Benitez’s tenure in charge was falling apart around the same time of year.
Lampard was the eventual choice of the whole board to replace the Spaniard and most Evertonians were glad to welcome the ex-Chelsea star to Merseyside.
The former England international had a lot of goodwill to draw upon when he took over just under a year ago and his early decisions and actions were generally well-received, although signing Dele Alli on deadline day wasn’t one of them.
Things were rocky at times on the pitch, but in the end Lampard managed to steer the club away from the dreaded drop.
In the summer his signings were generally well-recieved. Although, the fact the Blues’ only added one more forward, was a major flaw in his and the club’s transfer dealings and one that would come back to haunt him.
This current season began with Everton looking a more organised and defensively solid side (despite the struggle to score goals) and after a slow start, the team turned in some decent performances, culminating in the 3-0 win over Palace three months ago.
But since then, the situation has got progressively worse and after a 0-0 draw at Fulham, the Toffees’ have been beaten at home by Leicester City, then twice away by Bournemouth and after the World Cup, first Wolves and then Brighton, again both times at Goodison.
In those matches the Blues’ have only scored three goals and let in a staggering fifteen. And, during this run of defeats, Lampard’s own decisions have come under increasing scutiny.
The manager has at times seemed to be unsure of what style of football he wants his team to play, vacillating between higher-energy pressing here and there and then a more deliberate possession-orientated approach, which appears confused and inconsistent.
This has become particularly problematic because the defence has started leacking goals readily meaning that trying to play out more from the back in particular, puts even more pressure on them and leads to more goals conceded.
In truth, Everton simply don’t have the right calibre of players to operate in this way. And, generally, their better displays have been when the side plays high-tempo and on the front foot, or a more counter-attacking game, such as in the draw at Manchester City on New Year’s Eve.
To some extent Lampard’s predecessor Benitez understood this. He opted for a conservative, counter-attacking style of play based on wingers and very direct tactics.
It didn’t work out in the end because injuries intervened – especially losing Dominic Calvert-Lewin for a long spell – and he became ever more defensive and cautious, compunding the problems of a lack of attacking threat by inviting too much pressure on his weak and injury-depleted defence.
Lampard and the club though failed to learn the lesson from this and didn’t do enough by strengthening their forward options last summer.
Anyway, regardless of all the questions over style and tactics, as we know the problems at this football club go much deeper than simply the current manager, or indeed most of his predeccessors.
Lampard’s position does now seem almost untenable after such a poor run recently and with the club once again hovering just above the relegation zone.
There are several names being most regularly linked with the Blues’ job. One of them is ex-Everton youth team pruduct Wayne Rooney.
Rooney was managing Derby County in the Championship when Benitez was sacked and he was tentatively linked with the job. I felt he could well be worth a punt given the excellent job he did at cash-strapped and crisis-riven Derby.
However, he ruled himself out and has since gone to manage in the MLS. I can’t see Rooney wanting to come back to take over now given his lack of interest last year.
The other, perhaps most realistic option, is Sean Dyche. Ex-Burnely boss Dyche was sacked by the Lancashire club late last season as they were battling with Everton to avoid the drop.
It seemed a strange decision to me and it didn’t work as the Clarets were the club that went down, instead of the Blues’.
Dyche isn’t a manager to inspire supporters that they will start seeing expansive and entertaining football. But, he has a strong track record of keeping teams up and getting his sides very well-organised and hard to beat, like Allardyce.
He is also used to working with very little money, something that seems to be the situation at Everton both now and for the foreseeable future.
One other problem is that with the January tranasfer window now open, there is very little time to bring in a new coach and give him enough time to sign new players, which is very evidently essential if there is to be any hope of survival.
I don’t think it will really matter who the club appoint if Lampard goes. Dyche might well be the best and most pragmatic choice to avoid another relegation fight, but without fundamental change from the top down, this club is going to be stuck in a permanent downward spiral.