Frank Lampard is the latest manager to fall victim to the seemingly impossible job of managing Everton.
Everton only secured relegation to the Championship in the penultimate game of last season and it was hoped that tenure would represent a fresh restart and a fresh start.
Lampard, however, failed to deliver a comeback and Saturday’s 2-0 loss to fellow strugglers West Ham United, which left Everton 19th in the table with just three wins from 20 appearances, led to the inevitable sacking. .
The 44-year-old’s win ratio was a dismal 23.68%, winning just nine of his 38 league appearances in charge. These stats make for grim reading for one of the great players in the modern game.
Where did it go wrong for Lampard?
In the same place, it went wrong for the five previous managers – Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva and Rafael Benitez – sacked by the volatile Everton owner Farhad Moshiri.
Lampard has failed to deliver results, football’s most valuable currency. No one can make a serious case for suggesting Everton were showing signs of improvement.
He leaves, however, with a great deal of sympathy from many Everton fans. They bonded with a figure who engaged with them and showed an instant awareness of what he saw as the club’s historic place in English football.
After last season’s close shave, Everton embarked on the hallowed ‘strategic review’ to ensure they avoid a repeat. However, all of those plans were stalled below the waterline by the mishandling of the £60m sale to Tottenham’s Brazilian striker Richarlison, whose goals kept them going last season.
A lack of goal threat was a glaring weakness even before Richarlison’s departure, so failure to field a natural replacement was a dereliction of duty, whether on the part of Lampard or director of football Kevin Thelwell.
Everton have been betting big on injury-prone Dominic Calvert-Lewin staying fit – a gamble lost when he suffered a long-term injury just before the start of the season. It left them scouring a B-list of targets, a search that ended with the £12million signing of Neal Maupay, who was unwanted at Brighton and has scored just one goal since joining.
Dwight McNeil was signed from Burnley for £20million in a bid to provide services for Calvert-Lewin, but although he showed fleeting quality, he quickly became a peripheral figure.
Everton’s lack of goals – only Wolves have scored less than their 15 – put pressure on their defense and while James Tarkowski and Conor Coady seemed to have provided stability, they looked increasingly shaky over time. of the season.
Amadou Onana, the 21-year-old Belgian midfielder signed from Lille for £33m, is raw, while returning Idrissa Gueye has looked like a shadow of the player who left Everton for Paris Saint-Germain.
Lampard faced a key fate after the Premier League restarted after the World Cup and to register a grand total of zero points in home games against fellow strugglers Wolves and Southampton, with a 4-1 thrashing by Brighton between the two, helped seal his fate.
The old adage in football is that the three most important words in the game are “recruitment, recruitment, recruitment”. Everton’s strategy has been useless, seemingly without any structure.
Everton’s starting line-up for Lampard’s final game included players signed by five different managers; for the home defeat to last club Southampton it was six.
One of Lampard’s tasks was to somehow assemble something cohesive from pieces assembled by others while adding his own. Like these others, the work proved beyond him.
Is Everton crisis entirely Lampard’s fault?
For a manager whose results have been so poor, there is actually goodwill for Lampard among many supporters, who saw his work as one that defeated more illustrious managerial names.
The fan base’s lack of antipathy towards Lampard also leads to where the wider blame lies – namely with owner Moshiri and those inside the Goodison Park boardroom responsible for the mess that caused this crisis.
Moshiri was unhappy when his ‘Hollywood’ nomination Carlo Ancelotti stunned him into returning to Real Madrid, but doubts were already being cast over whether even the man who has now won the Champions League four times could rebuild Everton.
Everton fans are in open revolt, with the board announcing they could not attend the final home game against Southampton for security reasons, although they are all back, along with Moshiri, at the stadium from London.
Without a trophy since 1995, Everton fans are demanding the removal of Chairman Kenwright. They see him as a constant from the barren years, having acquired the club from former owner Peter Johnson in 1999. Fans also want chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale gone.
Moshiri is often blamed for poor decisions, such as the appointment of former Liverpool manager Benitez in the face of fan opposition, but it was Kenwright who bragged once other clubs turned to him. Everton board to find the right way to deal with the issues. Now, with the growing difficulties of the club, there must also be a leadership responsibility.
At Thelwell, Everton are also on their third director of football to be appointed under Moshiri’s watch, after Steve Walsh and Marcel Brands, as the club have spent over £500m to make the team considerably worse than it was only when their owner bought the club in February 2016.
Due to this expense and Financial Fair Play restrictions, Everton have been stripped of their power to return to the markets to solve their problems. Years of poor decision making have come back to haunt them.
So it won’t be an easy task for Lampard’s successor.
What future for Everton and Lampard?
Moshiri is now seeking his seventh managerial appointment as fans plan another protest in the upcoming home game against Premier League leaders Arsenal.
Those calling for Moshiri to leave will understand that he must first find a willing buyer, which is not easy in the current state of Everton and with a new £760million stadium on Bramley-Moore Dock to finance.
Whether there will be a change to the current board – which includes Kenwright, Barrett-Baxendale, chief financial officer Grant Ingles and former gaming legend Graeme Sharp – remains to be seen. We also don’t know yet if the quartet will find their places in the directors’ gallery against Arsenal.
Recent events, including their non-appearance against Southampton, have only fueled the unease of much of Everton’s backing and that relationship currently appears to be broken.
These are not ideal circumstances to find a manager capable of arresting a slide towards the Championship.
As for Lampard, sacked at Chelsea and now by Everton, one has to wonder if he will get another shot at a top job, or even want one, after the manner of his departures from his last two posts.
While he leaves with the good wishes of many Everton fans, the hierarchy he leaves behind must break the habit of recent times of making a big decision – appointing a manager who can revive the club.