Everton In Crisis Q&A: With Frank Lampard Under Pressure, Who Is To Blame For The Mess At Goodison?

Everton manager Frank Lampard has begun preparations for Friday’s FA Cup trip to Manchester United but with his job under increasing threat, who is to blame for the club’s current position?

The mood turned toxic at Goodison Park during the 4-1 loss at home to Brighton, a result which has left the Toffees with just five points from the last 10 matches.

Everton are mired in a relegation battle for the second successive season and, although the manager’s future hangs in the balance, the former Chelsea boss was continuing on Wednesday to prepare for the visit to Old Trafford.

So who is to blame for the current predicament? Sky Sports looks at the myriad of elements to the vicious cycle engulfing Everton.

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Everton slumped to a 4-1 loss to Brighton

The manager

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Everton manager Frank Lampard says he is very disappointed with the defeat to Brighton and the mounting pressure is part of his job.

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O’Connor:

“Frank Lampard helped unite a fractured fan base when it was most needed. He also set Everton up for the unlikely draw at the Etihad. He also showed a blueprint for what an Everton side should be about in the 3-0 win at home to Crystal Palace earlier this season.

“Unfortunately Evertonians have seen little sign of that blueprint ever since. Is that down to the manager? In part, yes, for instance many will argue he could have changed things at half-time against Brighton. Maybe the set-up at home needed to change after the defeats to Leicester and Wolves as well.

“At the same time, he’s not culpable for the lack of forward options or depth in the squad as previously mentioned. So the decision is whether to back him and if so how can they give him the tools to do his job… or if they decide it’s time for change the key element should be that any new appointment is a long-term fix commanding universal support among the fans.”

Lampard will conduct Thursday’s pre-match press conference ahead of Everton’s FA Cup third-round tie with Manchester United this weekend.

How much pressure is Lampard under?

Frank Lampard has been unable to lift Everton
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Frank Lampard has been unable to lift Everton

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O’Connor:

“Frank Lampard arrived at Everton’s training base Finch Farm on Wednesday morning. We understand that at the moment, Lampard is still preparing for the FA Cup third-round game against Manchester United on Friday as normal.

“However, there is the reality that Everton’s results have not been good enough over a number of weeks now.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Everton and Brighton.

“Just one win in 11 games in all competitions and ultimately Lampard is culpable for results. The press wasn’t working at Goodison Park and the mistakes were there at the back.

“We saw it against Leicester and Wolves at home. Lampard said he was happy with the performance against Wolves but I didn’t think it was good enough either. The mistakes that have been creeping in at the back have been there for a number of weeks and not enough is being done to solve that.

“We saw on Tuesday night that the manager could’ve changed things at half-time and shored up Everton’s right-hand side that was struggling in the first half.

“The first two goals came down the right-hand side against Brighton.”

Everton on the slide

Lampard kept Everton in the league at the end of last season, but he has largely been unable to arrest the slide that started under his predecessor Benitez.

Since he took over as manager, the Toffees have scored 33 goals and conceded 55 in 36 matches, a difference of -22.

Lampard’s side have found the net at a slower rate than they did under Benitez, whose reign ended with a record of 24 goals for and 34 against in 19 league
games.

Only Mike Walker, who managed just six wins from his 31 league matches in charge in 1994, has a worse goal difference per match than Lampard among Everton managers in the Premier League era.

The Board

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

“Owner Farhad Moshiri has sacked five managers in almost seven years since becoming the majority shareholder and Lampard now has a win ratio lower than the man he replaced, the hugely unpopular Rafael Benitez, as he approaches his first-year anniversary at the end of the month.

“You only have to look at all the signings Everton have made since Moshiri became the majority shareholder in February 2016 to see how much has been wasted. It doesn’t make good reading for a club a point outside of the relegation zone.

Everton's recent history of managerial turnover

“Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright have to shoulder a lot of the blame for the mismanagement that has crippled any hope of progress. It has been a domino effect that has seen supporter unrest then unsettle the players.

“The high turnover of managers has resulted in a mishmash of a squad signed under various different reigns and so it is unsurprising there is no identifiable playing style. Lampard is only just moulding his team, so while he may not necessarily be the answer, the same mistakes will continue to occur if the next man in line isn’t backed.”

‘We’re a dinosaur of a football club’

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Peter McPartland from Toffee TV dissects the problems that Everton have at the moment and describes the club as a ‘dinosaur’.

Toffee TV presenter Peter McPartland told Sky Sports:

“(The board) keep patting themselves on the back about getting a new stadium. It looks magnificent but it’s 25 years too late. We’re a dinosaur of a football club. Everyone loves Goodison Park but I can’t wait to leave the place. To me, all it is is a symbol of what Everton used to be in the 1960s and the 1980s when they had success.

“We’ve not had success since the 1980s bar one trophy. I don’t understand how anyone grows up an Evertonian anymore. For a kid, coming to watch a game and seeing that while we’ve got neighbours winning things. It starts and ends with the board.

“Kevin Thelwell was brought in last summer as director of football last summer but he’s been working with one hand tied behind his back. There’s no point in sacking Frank Lampard while these people pick his replacement as we’ll just keep on going around in the same circle, and we’re circling a drain.

“I 100 per cent think Everton will get relegated this season. We’ve replaced good players with terrible players and it starts and ends with the board. Farhad Moshiri is going to have to sell as the club is going nowhere. We thought it would change under Moshiri but it’s got worse.”

The players

Everton have struggled offensively this term

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O’Connor:

“Everton are paying the price for years of spending big money in the transfer market with little return on that outlay.

“Last summer did little to solve Everton’s problems with the added complication of being restricted by profit and sustainability rules. That said, on the face of it Richarlison leaving with Dwight McNeil, Neal Maupay, Conor Coady, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Amadou Onana coming in doesn’t look a bad window.

“However, Onana (whilst undoubtedly a player with potential) is still getting up to speed with the Premier League and so far the strengths of Richarlison that suited Everton have not been seen in his replacements.

“With Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured for long periods Everton’s goal threat has been non-existent for so much of this season, a situation that was predictable and should have been addressed in the last transfer window.”

Are Everton suffering from identity crisis?

Lampard has struggled to identify a clear style of play
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Lampard has struggled to identify a clear style of play

The Guardian football correspondent Jamie Jackson told Sky Sports:

“Losing 4-1 at Goodison is a horrible result for Frank Lampard and I saw Everton up close when they got a draw at Manchester City and although it was a very good result, he doesn’t come across as the most tactically inventive.

“Whether they now make another change, I make it six or seven permanent managers since the current owner Moshiri took over in 2016 plus four caretakers. I think there will be a change. They’re a point above the relegation zone and there doesn’t seem to be much of a plan as to how they play.

“Against City in terms of how they played, it was a dour attempt to cancel them out and it wasn’t very proactive. Brighton are a very good team but it’s not looking great for Lampard.

“It feels like they’re going nowhere or backwards fast.”

The schedule and absence of key personnel

Everton's next six Premier League games

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

“There is certainly an element of truth in the fact that Lampard has not had his best players readily available to him at all times. Calvert-Lewin is only just coming back to full fitness while the defeat to Brighton came with another setback.

“Nathan Patterson is set for a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury while even since the return from the World Cup, we have seen injuries to Michael Keane and Yerry Mina. Onana was then suspended against Brighton to provide another headache.

“What Lampard then needs is for the schedule to be kind, but Everton have gone from playing away to the Premier League champions Manchester City to facing one of the division’s most energetic teams three days later. It doesn’t get any easier.

“Their FA Cup third-round tie against high-flying Manchester United has been picked for television on Friday night meaning it is a sharp turnaround and very little time to address matters at the club’s Finch Farm training base.

Why did Lampard change formation?

Everton began the game well against Brighton
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Everton began the game well against Brighton

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

“Lampard seemed to overcomplicate things on Tuesday night. He had to make a change with Onana suspended but the switch back to a 4-3-3 played into Brighton’s hands.

“Why not just make a like-for-like switch with either Abdoulaye Doucoure or Tom Davies?

“Patterson was left horribly exposed by Kaoru Mitoma with Ben Godfrey taken out of the side. Was playing twice in a matter of days too much for Godfrey after his long lay-off?

“If so, there’s Mina and Mason Holgate available to keep the same shape. The constant tinkering certainly isn’t helping build any consistency.”

What does the data say about Everton this season?

Everton’s all-time Premier League goal difference has dropped to zero for the first time in over 10 years.

The four goals shipped at home to Brighton on Tuesday night took the Toffees’ total number conceded to 1,505 in 1,170 matches, with Demarai Gray’s late penalty being their 1,505th goal scored.

Everton’s goal difference remained largely negative in the 1990s and 2000s before David Moyes led them into positive territory with a 3-1 win at home to Southampton on September 29, 2012.

Moyes’ successor Roberto Martinez continued the upward trend until his departure in 2016, around the time that current owner Farhad Moshiri bought his first shares in the club.

Everton’s goal difference hovered around +40 under the next four permanent managers – Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce, Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti – but has since declined under Benitez and Lampard.

Everton are the only one of the Premier League’s six ever-present clubs without a positive goal difference.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all scored far more goals than they have conceded, with Spurs’ goal difference the lowest of the five, at +315.

Does the current squad have enough to stay up?

Everton's shortage of shots on target

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O’Connor:

“I don’t think so because of the lack of goals. If Calvert-Lewin can stay fit or a striker can be found in this window then there’s a chance. But that chance also depends on the service Everton’s ‘number 9’ receives.

“And, if I’m honest, I feel the quality of delivery, especially from wide areas has also been lacking this season and when there’s no goal threat, that puts an awful lot of pressure on the back line to dig you out of a hole and the early season solidity appears to have gone when persisting with a 4-3-3 at home.”

Everton's shot map from the 2022/23 season

Spectre of Moyes still hangs over Everton

Brighton scored three times in seven minutes
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Brighton scored three times in seven minutes

Everton will travel to West Ham on January 21 in need of a result, but with former manager Moyes in the opposing dugout.

The Toffees finished in the top eight in all but two of Moyes’ 11 full seasons in charge, accumulating a goal difference of +65 along the way.

Only Joe Royle and Martinez saw their sides outscore their opponents at a faster rate, albeit for a shorter period.

Royle was manager for 97 league games and Martinez for 113, while Moyes remained at the helm for 427 matches.

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