DOMINIC KING: There’s no escape from the Everton vortex with Frank Lampard the latest in a long line of managers floored by poor owners, poor players and poor discipline. Marcelo Bielsa will have to be a magician to save them
- Frank Lampard was sacked by Everton over the phone on Monday afternoon
- He spoke to Farhad Moshiri several times after the West Ham defeat on Saturday
- Several key players at Everton thought highly Lampard, such as Jordan Pickford
The phone call arrived, belatedly, at 3pm. Frank Lampard had known the writing was on the wall but, even still, it did not make it any easier to deal with the pain.
Farhad Moshiri had spoken to the 44-year-old a number of times since Saturday night, even asking him for his views on what was needed in terms of recruitment, but the final conversation between the pair ended with a parting of the ways.
A man with Lampard’s experience of football, from the clubs he has played for and managed, will have known that losing so many games so quickly had left him on a sticky wicket. The identity of the teams who had beaten Everton, rivals at the bottom, exacerbated the situation.
Frank Lampard was sacked by Everton on Monday after less than a year in charge of the club
Owner Farhad Moshiri (right) spoke to Lampard several times since Everton’s 2-0 loss to West Ham on Saturday
Football, with its ruthlessness and relentless demands, is not an environment that generates sympathy but there was genuine empathy for Lampard within Goodison Park — few fans had called for him to go, the desire to see him succeed was obvious.
Lampard, though, is the latest man to find there is no way out of this vortex. A cycle of mismanagement, of bringing in players who aren’t of the right standard, has left Everton staring into the abyss and you genuinely fear for what is next.
If it is Marcelo Bielsa, he will have to be a miracle worker and not just the footballing genius that his devotees will tell you he is. Bielsa is a coach whose views and ideas have helped take the game into a new era, but can he keep Everton in the top flight?
Moshiri was at the game against West Ham after being told to stay away from Goodison Park last weekend
Marcelo Biela is top of the club’s list of candidates to replace former midfielder Lampard
Effectively, he will have to transform a team and club that appear to have learnt no lessons from last season’s harrowing dice with relegation into European contenders. It might sound trite, but that really is what is required.
All coaches are only as good as the players with which they are dealing and this Everton squad, during the past seven years, have regularly strung together the kind of results that raise blood pressure and send managers to the exit door.
You might be startled by Lampard’s run of one win in 14 matches, stretching back to October, but Rafa Benitez had something similar last season (two wins in 15 before his exit). Carlo Ancelotti? Three wins in 13 in the spring of 2021 saw Everton blow a chance of Europa League qualification.
Lampard won one of his last 14 games, but other managers had failed before he arrived too
On the list goes. Marco Silva? Sacked after eight defeats in 11 league matches, through the autumn of 2019. Ronald Koeman endured a run of one win in 11 in his first campaign, then was sacked during a sequence of two wins in 14. Put simply, this isn’t a squad that can get a job done consistently.
There are good characters within that dressing room —nobody will be wracked with more guilt at the moment than Seamus Coleman, the club captain who won’t even leave the house for a pint of milk when things are going badly.
Jordan Pickford was another who thought the world of Lampard, while Alex Iwobi benefited from having a manager who listened to what he had to say. Lampard could never understand why the Nigerian had been pushed from pillar to post across several positions and wanted to help him flourish.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was among those that thought highly of Lampard at the club
But not everyone was pulling for Lampard and the fact he had to banish Abdoulaye Doucoure to train on his own last week, following a row in the dressing room after a defeat by Southampton, gives you an insight into some discipline issues.
If he had the chance, Lampard would have got rid of plenty of individuals who have been at the club for a long time. Perhaps if he had his time again, he would have sold Anthony Gordon to Chelsea last summer, as the England Under 21 international hasn’t been the same since.
Gordon may yet end up at Chelsea, who also like Amadou Onana, the Belgian midfielder signed from Lille last summer for £33million.
Onana said earlier in the season, during a lighter moment, that Lampard remained the best player in training every day.
Abdoulaye Doucoure (right) clashed with Lampard last weekend and was banished to train alone after the clash
Anthony Gordon is expected to leave Everton, with both Everton and Chelsea interested
Therein was an issue. Aged 44 and six years retired, Lampard still had more quality than the squad with which he was working. It should never have been the case, not after the investment that has been made, but it explains why the spectre of relegation is looming large again.
In the main, this squad stop responding. That was clear last November, when back-to-back defeats at Bournemouth sent them into the World Cup hiatus under a dark cloud.
An enquiry was made at one stage during it to see if Mauricio Pochettino would be interested, but he wasn’t.
Pochettino always cites Bielsa as his greatest inspiration and perhaps it will be the sorcerer, rather than the apprentice, who takes this job on. If Bielsa thought Leeds was a big challenge, though, it is nothing on Everton.
To take them away from danger, Bielsa won’t just have to be a coach. He will have to be a magician.
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