After yesterday’s terrrible 2-0 loss at West Ham plunged Everton deeper into crisis, the rumours of an impending managerial change are building.
Everton were again dreadful in defeat at the London Stadium, and while changing manager once more, certainly isn’t the long-term answer, there isn’t anything else that can be done now to arrest this catastrophic decline.
First of all, it needs to be said that Frank Lampard is obviously not the primary reason why the Toffees’ are mired in such a mess.
He took over the club when it was in a similar crisis a year ago, after the failed experiment of Rafa Benitez had finally run its course.
The ex-Chelsea star inherited a highly dysfunctional team, which was the result of so many different previous managers spending freely on players before they were sacked to make way for the next man.
Lampard was faced with a bloated squad of under-performing players on long contracts and huge wages and the financial constraints imposed by the Premier League after years of extravagant spending had accumulated massive debts.
When he took the job, Lampard’s first priority was of course to keep the Blues’ up and despite some very inconsistent performances and results, eventually he did that.
During that spell of games in the second half of last season, he had tried to instill a more progressive and positive way of playing.
But with the players he had, that wasn’t possible and so in the end Lampard reverted to a more defensive and direct approach to get results.
Last summer he got the chance to bring in some of the players that he wanted with new Director of Football Kevin Thelwell working with him, despite the financial constraints.
Initially, Lampard’s transfer moves were largely well-received and seemed to be part of a properly strategic approach to recuitment, something which hadn’t really been seen for a long time.
Starting at the back, he added two central defenders without any transfer fees before moving on to strengthen the midfield, a chonic weakness for so long.
All this seemed a reasonable and sensible approach to improve the spine of the side from defence, to midfield and then attack.
But, Everton had been forced to sell Richarlison to Spurs earlier in the summer to stave off financial penalties and provide Lampard with some additional money.
So it was clear to everyone, that having shored up his defence and injected some much-needed athleticism and energy in the centre of the pitch, bringing in a replacement for the Brazilian forward was essential.
However strangely, the club didn’t seem to be in any great hurry to replace Richarlison’s goals (which had been crucial in keeping the club in the Premier League) with rumours of this and that forward joining only for nothing to materialise.
Lampard did sign Dwight McNeil from Burnley, a decision that baffled many supporters and appeared to make little sense given his inability to score goals.
And then the club only added one striker, Neal Maupay, at the last minute, someone who seemed to be basically a panic buy very late in the day.
That almost criminal failure to add more desperately needed firepower was to rebound on the manager and his team, straight away.
As a result of these decisions or lack of them, the Toffees’ were left depending almost entirely for goals on an injury-prone striker who had spent most of the previous campaign on the sidelines.
And then, just before the season kicked-off Dominic Calvert-Lewin of course got injured again, leaving Everton without any recognised centre-forward, apart from ageing Benitez signing, Salomon Rondon.
It was a disaster to have to start the campaign like this and forced Lampard to deploy his other forwards in a mix and match way in the hope they could combine to score enough goals.
Although the team were able to get a few decent results and the defence was largely solid and reliable – despite Lampard losing two of his centre-backs as well on the opening day – this was never going to be a strategy that would work in the long run.
Once the defence began to wobble, that lack of goals really began to hurt the team and after a superb 3-0 win over Crystal Palace in October, results started to decline again.
For some reason that I can’t fully understand, Everton haven’t been able to reproduce that performance against Palace since.
Whatever the reason or reasons, it’s now been ten Premier League matches since that win at a sunny Goodison Park three months ago and the Blues’ find themselves in very serious trouble, yet again.
Recently during this run of bad results, Lampard’s tactical changes and team selections have been under increasing scrutiny.
He seems to be unsure about whether to stick with the 4-3-3 formation that he ended up with after the injuries to Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey forced him to abandon a three-man defence.
As results have gone wrong and Mina and Godfrey returned, he has gone back to that, most notably to good effect in the 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
In the meantime, often Everton have played a passive possession game, particularly at home, knocking the ball around at the back, an approach which has lacked urgency and necessary forward momentum.
All this indicates that Lampard is not certain how to get the best out of this, albeit limited, set of players.
His in-game management also seems to be lacking, with very late substitutions and a lack of obvious reasons for who he brings on.
Yesterday for example, why didn’t he throw on Ellis Simms and Neal Maupay in the secodn half and go for goals?
There was no point in Everton just limping to another tame defeat, so he should have tried anything he could to get something from the game.
There was perhaps a good case for Lampard to be replaced after the two heavy defeats by Bournemouth just before the World Cup.
But, after so many managers have come and gone (costing a fortune in compensation of course) and given that this club always seems to take a long time to make these decisions, it was likely that he would be given more time. So he was.
Now though, I do think a change has to be made given that there is a two week break again before the Premier League returns and the Blues’ host Arsenal.
Who that should be, I’m not sure. I think probably the only realistic candidate who could possibly get the Toffees’ out of this mire, is Sean Dyche. Would he take the poisoned chalice of becoming manager of this club?