It’s fair to say that Everton’s supporters made their opinion pretty clear over the last couple of weeks. Since the departure of Rafael Benítez, the fans have been desperate for Frank Lampard to take the reins of the Merseyside club, rather than Portuguese coach Víto Pereira. Well, after the latter made some strange comments in the media about being desperate for the role, the Everton fans got what they wanted, with Lampard being offered a two-and-a-half-year deal to take the job.
It’s an exciting time for Everton fans. The doom and gloom of the short-lived Benítez tenure has evaporated, making way for budding hope and excitement. The former Chelsea legend will bring an attacking style of play and a sense of warmth to the role — something that was lacking under the stony-faced Spaniard — and that in turn will breed greater confidence in the squad.
However, this will be no walk in the park. Everton’s dip in form over the last few months has been alarming, and the team now find themselves hovering dangerously close to the Premier League drop zone, thrust suddenly into a relegation dogfight that, in truth, they shouldn’t be anywhere near. This will represent a new challenge for Lampard, who has never managed a team battling the threat of relegation.
Everton’s fans will think of the open, attacking football Chelsea played when Lampard managed the Blues for 18 months, and also his penchant for including young, promising players in his starting 11. However, with the Toffees needing points fast to avoid getting dragged into the relegation mire, there will not be as much scope for the 43-year-old to experiment.
Defensive solidity will be the order of the day to navigate Everton away from the bottom three, but this is an area where Lampard has struggled as a coach. His Chelsea side conceded goals at an alarming rate, and in the end his inability to build a strong defensive foundation for the team was the reason he was ultimately given his marching orders from Stamford Bridge. Everton fans will be hoping that Lampard has learned from his mistakes and can help them overturn the odds on Betdaq.
Their new coach is an intelligent man, and it’s been clear that he has weighed up his options very carefully in the last year or so. There were opportunities to snap and jobs that came up sooner, but Lampard bided his time and has put himself forward for a role that he thinks will suit him best. In some ways, it’s make-or-break for his managerial career, but you can bet that he’ll have a plan in place to maximise his chances of success.
This is not like the Chelsea job, for the simple reason that results are needed in short order so that Everton do not suffer the first Premier League relegation in the history of the club. It’s almost unthinkable that Everton could be relegated this season given the struggles of some of the teams below them, but a lot could happen between now and the rest of the season.
It looks as though Everton have got the man they wanted, but the battle is only just beginning to ensure that this season does not go down in history for all the wrong reasons.