The Bollocks to Play

Jacques Sandtonian 22/03/2022 73comments  |  Jump to last
At one point early in Sam Allardyce’s brief tenure as Everton manager, Big Sam himself raised a curious question: How is it that Everton doesn’t have a sports psychologist on the books?

I remember thinking to myself “How indeed?” I would have thought that this was one of the critical roles in an elite football club’s backroom setup, alongside sports science and nutrition.

At the time I never stopped to consider why he posed the question, but it’s possible he was seeing something in the squad that alerted him to the absence of head shrinkage.

Over the period since, we have witnessed Everton players with decidedly questionable mental fortitude. Andre Gomes is an obvious one who, granted following a horrific injury, has often looked like a man who cannot step up under pressure. That’s a diplomatic way of describing it anyway. Michael Keane is another who is clearly battling with confidence to the point of an almost total collapse in form.

Pundits and supporters often lament the absence of “leaders” in football clubs. We hear it levelled at Manchester United regularly. Yet it’s difficult to define what a “leader” really is in this game, we all just seem to know it when we see it. Anthony Gordon has maintained a consistent level of form and commitment through this horrible period at Everton yet we’re not ready to call him a leader.

Seamus Coleman is Everton’s de facto leader, yet can you really say that you’ve ever considered him a “leader of men”? He wears the armband, spouts the rhetoric, and gives everything for the shirt but there’s an intangible element there that seems to be missing when you think of “true leaders”.

Jordan Pickford is another. In a position on the field where leadership is almost a prerequisite, he appears more to bark and gesticulate than to actually lead. When times are good, he provides a kind of light-hearted energy, cajoling defenders. When times are bad, he appears more like a pantomime clown.

Even our manager, Frank Lampard, is one who to me always seemed to be a captain by virtue of being so consistent a player (and long-serving) rather than a player with true leadership qualities. For those, John Terry was unquestionably the real leader at Chelsea.

So, it’s with fearful curiosity now that I have observed Lampard’s shift in tone following the abysmal collapse at Crystal Palace. In his post-match press conference, he admitted there is only so much you can butter up players before you need to ask them “Do you have the bollocks to play?”

Whether it’s taken this long for him to realise, or whether it’s just the first truly opportune time for him to mention it, only he knows. But his frustration was justified as was the timing of such a comment.

Against Tottenham, he would have been rightly frustrated with his own tactical naivety, going high press and gung-ho against a team with their counter-attacking prowess. Against Wolves, he could justifiably claim that we were narrowly beaten by one of the Premier League’s better teams and that we did have a good first half.

But against Palace, he was clearly convinced – as I’m sure most of us are – that tactics were not the problem. Or at least not the cause of such a brutal scoreline. We did have them pinned back in their own half.

Granted we couldn’t finish and we lost Andros Townsend but there is absolutely no tactical reason why we couldn’t revert to that pressure after conceding the first goal. Instead, we wilted and capitulated.

This speaks almost exclusively to mental fortitude and the distinct lack of “character” that managers and pundits like to speak of when teams triumph over adversity. Lampard has clearly seen enough to shift his tone from arm-around-the-shoulder to stand-up-or-get-out. How he is channelling that tone with the players behind the scenes could be a crucial determinant in our fate this season.

The outcome of this shift of tone will depend in part on Lampard’s own ability to rouse his men – something I worry about given my perceptions of his leadership as a player. But it will also depend on what mettle these players have in responding to that motivating force – something we all worry about on an hourly basis if not more regularly.

From our position as supporters, I believe we absolutely must lean into this tonal shift from Lampard and get behind him because what should be abundantly clear to us all is that he is motivated. He cares, even if the players appear not to. We all know that many of these players have hidden behind managers in the past and we’ve let them. We’ve attributed as much to the manager as to the players.

We’ve run out of time – and possibly managers – to do that any longer. We have to be united behind our manager and keep holding these players’ feet to the fire because, unless they can find that fire within them, I cannot see a way for us to continue our existence in the Premier League.

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Reader Comments (73)

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Christopher Timmins
1 Posted 22/03/2022 at 15:03:54
The managers comments could back fire on him but regardless I am glad he uttered them. He told the truth!

If we survive the dreaded drop we should treat the summer as an opportunity to start again. Why not try and do what Palace did last summer.

It's often said by incoming mangers that they are trying to bring about an evolution not a revolution, well with regards to our first team squad we need a revolution!

I would hope that no serious contract negotiations are ongoing with the players who are out of contract in the summer and I can't think of many who are out of contract in June 2023 who should be rewarded with a contract extension.

George McKane
2 Posted 22/03/2022 at 15:22:44
A man went int a cake shop and asked the asistant:
"How much is that Gattocks in the window"
She said "Gattocks?" - - then looked in the window and said "Oh you mean The Gateaux - - well that £8.00 a slice"
The man said "Bolleaux"

A True Blue.

Don Alexander
3 Posted 22/03/2022 at 15:27:41
Moshiri and Kenwright would've bought the lot at top dollar though, George, with no other contenders in sight!
Jay Harris
4 Posted 22/03/2022 at 15:53:46
I think Frank is now feeling the pressure as I understand his contract can be terminated by the club at the end of the season and he doesn't want another failure on his CV so he is lashing out and making excuses.

Ancelotti made the same utterances when he declared he wasn't a magician. Both are very capable football people and will be shocked that players are not able to produce the goods at this level.

I think there is far too much disharmony and resentment throughout the club for any one individual to sort it out and it needs some honesty and unity at the top to salvage anything from this trainwreck.

Knowing the arrogance of the owner and chairman, I can't see it happening... and so it goes on until Armageddon.

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 22/03/2022 at 16:26:03
Jacques, anyone who needs to see a psychologist wants his head examining, as Sam Goldwyn, the movie director once nearly said!!
Ben King
6 Posted 22/03/2022 at 16:40:52
Great article

The mental weakness at Everton is prolonged and real: it’s what prevented us from making that next step under Moyes. It’s what caused that back pass by Distin in the semi re Liverpool. It’s why we couldn’t shut up shop against Chelsea in the final after taking the lead. And it’s what stopped us finishing 4th under Bobby Martinez after beating Arsenal when it was ours to lose.

It’s even what stopped us finishing in the European places last season.

We are WEAK. We don’t sign mentally strong players. We don’t tend to grow mentally strong players.

We don’t seek it from the identikit of a player and grossly undervalue it as a trait.

Excellent article

Please please solve it Frank

Dale Self
7 Posted 22/03/2022 at 16:53:38
I would have thought that was Bolleaux your usual savoir faire George but well played. Personally, I'm a bit disappointed he said it especially on the occasion of an FA Cup match. If you have to say it save your bullets for the true time of need.
Dave Williams
8 Posted 22/03/2022 at 16:56:11
I know that this sort of thing tends to be frowned on within the game but Frank has clearly seen enough.

We all make mistakes, as indeed did Frank at Spurs, but this group of players has consistently displayed a lack of grit and belief for far too long under a number of managers.

Whether this outburst by Frank will help or merely drive another nail into the coffin remains to be seen but no-one can deny that our away record this season is a total disgrace. It was of course very good last seasson in empty stadiums which suggests that the players indeed do not have the bollocks to stand up for themselves in front of a crowd in someone else's stadium.

We seem to buy and indeed produce players of small or slight stature who managers feel cannot cope with the rigours of the Premier League. Looking at Palace, for example, they had a team of powerful, strongly built lads who trampled all over us.

Gomes doesn't tackle; Doucouré is a runner but not built to put himself about; Allan is tiny though most certainly will put himself about; Gordon is aggressive but is still to fill out; Coleman is now old and has lost some pace; Kenny is steady but is not pacey or robust.

Following through on Frank's outburst, will he now revert to a team of scrappers, or as near to that as he can get? Can he spark some life into Alli or is Alli's career effectively gone? Can he bring Calvert-Lewin and Gray back to life in the 2-week break?

Will he give young Patterson a chance – surely a young Glaswegian will dig in and fight for a place in the side? We need a more robust centre-back - will he take a chance on Branthwaite who, at 6-ft 5-in, is very solidly built and with plenty of pace might be just what we need?

Is Isaac Price worth a try in midfield – he is box-to-box with bags of energy and might inject some life into midfield. Why not give Dobbin some serious game time and see if he can create some chances with his livewire approach and ability to run at defenders?

These are players whose confidence will not be affected by the poor results because they haven't played. Are they good enough to be given some proper game time? I'd sooner see a few of them given a try as, at the moment, we are playing with less than a full team given the lack of guts and will to win.

Maybe the question really is “Does Frank have the bollocks to do it?”

Kevin O'Regan
9 Posted 22/03/2022 at 17:00:08
Well, Dave, even if it's tongue-in-cheek, it's a daft statement. As individuals, we're are all about psychology – and most of us can handle the daily challenges and tasks at hand.

However, this is supposed to be a team we are talking about and it's a whole different setup. Football is no longer football, players are more egocentric than they used to be, and there are way more distractions for players than 30 or 40 years ago.

So, whatever the reasons are and whether we like it or not, we should definitely have a sports psychologist – or 2 – full time. This is pretty standard at most top teams.

We badly need to get rid of the fear of losing which makes us lose the ball and do stupid things across the pitch since the days of Martinez. It's in the DNA now and we need to get rid of it in order to play with any level of confidence. And we need our fans to support like they did against Newcastle Utd.

Paul Kossoff
10 Posted 22/03/2022 at 17:10:18
If an over-paid, over-hyped, over-rated supposedly top athlete needs any psychology brain boost, just let them see their bank balance, or the car they are driving, or the mansion they own...

I'm sure that even footballers will realize that they are extremely lucky young men who will probably never have to live in the real world.

Frank needs to give them a good kick up the arse and remind them of that.

Tony Abrahams
11 Posted 22/03/2022 at 17:17:37
The world's gone soft, and so has any Evertonian who thinks Lampard shouldn't have spoken the way he did, imo. How many players in Everton's squad have won a medal in senior football? Yet how many of this same squad isn't a multimillionaire?

Lampard also said the next two weeks on the training ground are vital, and who wouldn't sooner take stick off someone who was prepared to try and make you a better player, or a better person?

I personally think this is something that is embedded into Frank Lampard the person, because after all, we are talking about a man who “made himself” into a great player, through sheer hard work and dedication.

Lee Courtliff
12 Posted 22/03/2022 at 17:44:22
Someone on here said, after the City penalty incident, that Frank and Ashley Cole are now "seeing how the other half lives." Meaning, they were used to those decisions going in their favour at Chelsea/Arsenal.

Well now, Frank is seeing how the other half of players, those who don't win things, cope with pressure and criticism. Those things didn't stop Frank, as he was driven and had unshakeable self-belief.

I, for one, am fully behind his comments. He was spot-on, imo. That's why we need to start signing hungry, young players who see us as a step up. Not a sideways move or a payday.

The likes of Cahill, Arteta, Baines and Pienaar all came to us with either something to prove or were being given their first chance at a 'big club'. I know they didn't win anything for us but we have to completely rebuild, just like Moyes did, before we can even think of winning anything yet.

John Raftery
13 Posted 22/03/2022 at 17:49:44
Most certainly we need to support the manager. There is however a huge quality gap in the squad which no amount of cajoling or psychological support will bridge.

What we must hope is that somehow the players and the crowd can raise their game, as they did against Newcastle, to scrape a handful of positive results together in what remains of the season.

Apart from the win at home to a dreadful Leeds, who hit the woodwork twice, there have been no comfortable victories in the last 6 months. I am not expecting any in the next 2 months.

Tony Everan
14 Posted 22/03/2022 at 18:19:25
The biggest bollocks in any football team are needed at central defence and central midfield. This is the core of a team's mentality, players there who say ‘No' to the opposition. Think your going to roll us over? Over our dead bodies.’ This never-say-die attitude then percolates throughout the team. Having bollocks in these areas encourages bollock growth elsewhere.

We need a player of Yerry Mina's ability who plays every week. Then two younger Allan-type players to add some fear and fight to our powder-puff midfield.

For example as an opponent, I watch hard fighters like Phillips, Rice, and ugly, mean, uncompromising players like Højbjerg and Kovacic, and worker ants like Gana, N'Golo...

These players make midfields function, they overpower or continually win possession and negate lesser teams and then allow their talent to do the business.

Am I talking a load of balls?

Jerome Shields
15 Posted 22/03/2022 at 18:42:46
Jacques,

Everton is an institution of shirkers from top to bottom. Has been for years. They talk the talk and that is the sum total of their motivation. It is embedded in the culture of the club and enhanced by appointments and jobs for the boys.

Even the players are full of it. Wheeled out by the evertonfc. com sprouting, in real terms, bullshit. It is therefore no surprise that is exactly what you get on the pitch –extravagant gestures and poor basics in technical and tactical play. Anyone joining the club at any level will sink to the group norm.

But Denise will come up with a newly appointed Sports Psychologist, surprised she hasn't already, but to add to the bullshit and definitely not as you intended.

Tony Abrahams
16 Posted 22/03/2022 at 19:14:01
It's not just about saying 'No' to the opposition, Tony, but also about making your own players play. I was out on Friday with a few arl mates, reminiscing about when we used to play football together every Friday afternoon.

One of them must have made at least 20 fellas leave down the years because, if he couldn't get to the opposition, he started on his own team, and the end result was usually the same with his dead-and-buried team often coming from five goals behind to either getting a draw or even a last-minute winner.

We had a laugh, reminiscing about how he was hated more by his own teammates than he was by the other team, and it was obvious that none of his opponents liked him either, even though everyone was mates!

The biggest worry about this Everton team is that, no matter how many mistakes a player makes, not one of his teammates ever seems to criticize or cajole. Is this just normal now, or does it point to a complete lack of professional pride?

Brian Murray
17 Posted 22/03/2022 at 19:20:20
Usually a great or good player at least has an air of arrogance or belief. So it goes hand in hand that our players are the quietest I've seen in the Premier League because they are at best average players with very little football brain or able to take any responsibility.

I reckon a cull of 8 or 9 of them, who won't be here next season. I think Lampard, despite his latest criticism, is biting his tongue and has never met people like this before in his career.

Mike Doyle
18 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:02:29
Tony # 11,

I fully agree with you that Frank Lampard was entitled to make the comments he did. I also think – as other posters have mentioned – he's realised this squad is much weaker than he thought, thus the challenge is greater.

I'm hoping that he'll use the international break to give his old boss Carlo a call to compare notes and get a few suggestions on setting up in away games.

I think it is in the Howard's Way film that Trevor Stephen recalls Peter Reid getting on to him to raise his game during the Bayern Munich semi-final. Don't see many of our current mob calling out their teammates – sadly.

Tony Everan
19 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:08:45
Tony, Very true, I was trying to suggest that in my final paragraph. The relentless graft that is an absolutely necessary ingredient of a midfield is something we have not had anywhere near enough of.

Maybe Frank could call his old mate Ancelotti for a few tips on how to get points with a limited side. Carlo, before the last ten games, knew the limitations but still squeezed the wins out. The 4-5-1 hard-to-beat and nick-a-goal has to return, like it or not, as, even when we go more attacking, the goals have dried up. We have to turn the sieve into a saucepan.

Anyway, bollocks is the theme of the thread and, without them, any formation is going to fail.

Bernie Quinn
20 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:09:15
Some very good comments here that needed saying. Frank should be supported for what he said and hopefully he will act accordingly by giving his young players a few games.
Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:20:58
Mike (18),

"Don't see many of our current mob calling out their teammates – sadly”

Very true, Mike, they mostly look at the floor, frightened to look at each other because they'll just see someone as weak, mentally and physically, as themselves.

That''s why it was sad but great to see a 19-year-old, with hardly any experience, clapping his hands and urging his senior professionals to get a grip of themselves and have a go and sort themselves out.

That's why we need more than sports psychologists to make these players grow up and play professionally, like they are well paid to do, and definitely should be able to do.

To organise each other verbally instead of quietly accepting defeat once a goal has been scored against them. They should be ashamed the youngest member of the team was trying to do this for them.

Mike Doyle
22 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:22:14
Tony # 19,

Have to agree. We struggle to get shots on target, let alone score. We have just lost our leading goalscorer for the rest of the season (probably) and our 3 main assist providers from last season (Sigurdsson, James & Digne) have gone.

The money raised from the Digne transfer has been invested in two full-backs that don't seem worthy of selection.

With what we have left, surely the only sensible option is 4-5-1 and try and nick a few points that way.

Other suggestions / better ideas welcomed.

Jack Convery
23 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:30:41
We know the players are weak. We see it... weak-in & weak out!

Until the boardroom is sorted out, by putting professional people in charge, nothing will change. A board is needed to either stand up to Moshiri and tell him to either sod off, or just let the professionals get on with it.

No interference. No bloody players being signed because an agent tells you to. Mr Moshiri – Be an owner who realises "I either trust or I go".

Until that happens, this shit show will just carry on. If Moshiri and Kenwright intend to continue to run EFC as they have done, for several seasons now, we are finished. Who will want to come here? More players like Dele Alli? Because it won't be the grafters and those who want to win things, that's for sure.

Something tells me, Frank won't be here in July. Kenwright will get his wish and bring either Rooney or Moyes back.

I noticed today that reports about Usmanov on the BBC and in the Guardian are drawing Moshiri, nearer and nearer together. Mr Moshiri may well be another who is not here come July. If that is the case, I can only hope that a new owner will show Kenwright the door and run the club like a professional football club and not a three-ringed circus.

Good Times – Ella Eyre:

Dark days
Pulling me down
And it's so grey
Got my heads in the cloud
And you, you feel it too
But I told you
That we'd figure it out
All these old fools
That we're better without
And you, you know it's true, yeah

Robert Tressell
24 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:31:33
Mike, there is no alternative. Ancelotti recognised it. Lampard needs to recognise it too. Away draws and clean sheets will keep us in the top flight.
Christine Foster
25 Posted 22/03/2022 at 20:44:42
Not having any sort of invalidates me from the discussion, but in the interests of the team I will don a pair of underpants for this occasion!

Leadership... hmm... we haven't got that one... to me, it's presence, the one person who stands tall, fearless and cajoling, motivating players and terrifying opposition.

The organiser on the pitch who drags the players into position where needed and does not concede to someone with a plastic playbook on the sideline. He plays it the way he sees it, brutally honest but brilliantly proud of his teammates.

Bernie Quinn
26 Posted 22/03/2022 at 21:35:05
Wow Christine – you do get carried away, don't you? I wish I knew as many big words as you! What school did you go to – St Francis Xavier?
Tom Bowers
27 Posted 22/03/2022 at 22:12:35
Christine I agree with your point about leadership that Everton does not have.

I have said for a long time that Seamus is not a leader.

He has heart and when he and Bainsey were partners at the back they were probably the best in the Prem. especially raiding the flanks.

However since Seamus had that bad injury he has not been the same player although has kept the captaincy.

Compared to other right backs in the Prem. Seamus is way down the pecking order now.

Everton brought in two new full backs after Digne's form waned and Kenny has shown little improvement expected since his loan tenure in Germany.

Mina is the best of the central defenders when fit and Godfrey is still finding his true position whilst Keane plays in fits and starts.

Frank has many problems as we all know and probably the biggest one is the poor midfield performances from everyone who is put in there which is mainly why we fold so easily once we go behind against any team.

If there is a pre-match strategy it quickly folds if we can't score first which is almost every game and that is where a strong leader could really help things along. There is nobody in the squad capable of that this season.

If we do survive this season then the board has to give Frank all the help he needs and I don't mean the dross from other clubs on the cheap.

Bobby Thomas
28 Posted 22/03/2022 at 22:23:06
I like Frank and long term how he wants to play, however the away tactics with this squad are insane and now he's digging out the players.

We all know they don't have the bollocks. So, whats he going to do? Keep playing the same way and dig them out after every battering? Because that's what we're receiving, a battering. 14 against in 4 away games. Anfield is a nailed on massacre with this away set up.

On Sunday, as I read the team on my phone, Lampard was getting interviewed on the radio. He mentioned that there'd been no consistency in performance. How about consistency of selection? When I saw the team, I knew we'd get beat. We don't have the players to play that system. There was absolutely no need to break up the Newcastle back 4 - one I feel provides the best chance of some solidity for the rest of the season.

For me, he's chopping and changing way too much and the away tactics are hanging the players out to dry. Knowing our bunch, some won't be impressed.

I really wish he'd left saying this type of thing to the press till next season. He can start implementing his philosophy and beginning the cultural shift on day 1 after hopefully staying up, Pre-season to set a new tone.

But short term, its his jobs to get the best out of what he has and get some fucking points at Burnley and Watford. Not play some fantasy system that has zero chance of getting results and start digging out the players when it backfires.

Not gonna lie, I'm worried.

Pete Clarke
29 Posted 22/03/2022 at 23:05:26
As much as I like Frank Lampard he is definitely walking a tightrope with both supporters and players by telling everyone they have no Bollocks. He would or should have known this prior to applying for the role simply because you’d have to be ignorant not to know and I think he’s too smart for this.
So he is stuck with what he’s got for the foreseeable future and simply has to work out a formula to get the best out of this mush mash of bang average players. We all know they are crap but it is time for Frank and his team to earn their money too and not simply blame the tools at his disposal ( tools in both senses ) !
The team lack a lot of things but they can put in a good performance now and then just as we saw against Man City. In that game we kept our discipline and shape. This does not require bollocks but good solid tactics on the training field. He needs to focus on these things and get the players to stick to his plan.
I do feel a bit for Frank Lampard because of how he earned his medals but he chose this path so has to learn quickly if he wants to be successful.
Look how quickly Wolves have stabilized since losing their manager and top players. Brighton have kept their head above water and played some nice football despite a full team of average players.
We have 11 games to go and need around only another 9 points to stay up. Beating Burnley and Watford are essential in doing this so if Frank cannot muster those points then he is clearly not ready for the big time.
He is our last hope and I wish him well because I’m an Evertonian first and foremost but a big fan of having such a great icon of our game in charge and building for the future. No more excuses please.
Jim Wilson
30 Posted 22/03/2022 at 23:42:18
It was Lampards fault without any doubt.
He once again changed the team formation and once again this destroyed any chance of the team building any understanding and cohesion vital for the teams progress.
And he thought replacing Allan with Gomes was a good idea.

The back 4 did well against Newcastle and should have remained unchanged. Allan had to be replaced by a makeshift ball winner or a youngster who could do the job.
Or fill the midfield with players willing to fight for 90 minutes in a 451.

Shane Corcoran
31 Posted 22/03/2022 at 23:46:46
I submitted a podcast to ToffeeWeb yesterday where a couple of Irish journalists are flabbergasted by Lampard post Palace.

Granted, one of the lads has had an issue with him since his time as manager of Chelsea and it’s all a bit too sarcy for me, but generally I agree that he’s too quick to hang his players out to dry.

Not because he’s wrong but because he needs them to perform.

Maybe Lyndon or Michael might post the link.

Nicholas Ryan
32 Posted 22/03/2022 at 01:42:28
I REALLY do apologise for yet another cricket analogy, but, in the recently-ended Test match, West Indies were in trouble, when captain Kraig Brathwaite came in and batted for 13 hours. He also lasted 4 hours [not out] in the 2nd innings.

Brathwaite is a limited player of modest ability. His main talents are solid defence and an iron will. But both of those things are basic requirements for any sports team.

So, with all our money, why have we not found at least one Kraig Brathwaite?

Kieran Kinsella
33 Posted 23/03/2022 at 01:57:52
What’s the harm in Lampard telling the truth? Will the players get upset and throw the towel in? What’s new? They’ve been doing that for years. Martinez started this positivity shit trying to boost confidence by flattering egos and where has it got us? Nowhere. As Frank said “confidence” spun differently is having balls. If you play the Confidence angle you’re giving these pricks an out and portraying them as victims which is what they want. If you say “you’re a wimp, a coward,” that’s not something anyone normal is going to embrace. So if they’re angry then prove him wrong. If they don’t they’ve proven him right.
Jerome Shields
34 Posted 23/03/2022 at 02:17:12
Mike#22

The problem is that Frank does not seem able to set up a effective. defensive formation. It is going to take Everton to be able to ride tbeir luck defensively and some individual brilliance to score.

Jerome Shields
35 Posted 23/03/2022 at 02:17:13
Mike#22

The problem is that Frank does not seem able to set up a effective. defensive formation. It is going to take Everton to be able to ride tbeir luck defensively and some individual brilliance to score.

Brian Murray
36 Posted 23/03/2022 at 02:43:01
It’s been said the staff and players will wa t to thrash their problems out in the next two weeks ( aka Kendall taking the players for a Chinese when a lot was said ). There’s no way that will happen as they are happy In their own little world and we have a timid captain just like jags who comes out now and again with the usual bs. Great servants but ingrained in the Everton passive way. So expect more of the same. As frank says. No balls.
Eddie Dunn
37 Posted 23/03/2022 at 06:47:36
Frank's biggest threat is the players he called out.
Imagine their Whatsap group!
Watch your bacl Frank, they have downed tools on every single manager. They all know that a wholescale clearout will cost the club and is highly unlikely. They have seen bosses come and go and yet their lifestyles have stayed the same.
They (mostly) are financially secure for life despite mediocrity season after season. Now the bar is set even lower.
Let's face it, as a professional defender in the PL playing in a back five or four is routine.
They should be able to switch seamlessly into various shapes. That is their job.
What we observed at Selhurst Park was a bunch of wimps, lazy, gormless and technically poor.
They proved that they could implement Frank's instructions for the first twenty minutes. So the plan was doable. Why they dropped off so quickly can't have been fatigue -these are pro-athletes.
They simply lost all hope once they conceded. The couple who still tried had no support.
The more I think about it, the less I blame the manager and the more I blame the players. I don't think there is a coach in the world who could sort these out.
Stu Darlington
38 Posted 23/03/2022 at 13:43:11
I know it's early days yet, but Lampard doesn't seem to be able to get a tune out of this bunch of losers any more than some of our recent ex-managers could.

I know some of his team selections and formations have been baffling (to me at least) but the same old failings are still apparent.

I would not be surprised to see him walk in the summer, what else can you do when you get no response from the people you are working with, from whatever you do?

Unless he has a magic formula that can get these players delivering for 90 minutes each game, doing the basics right and showing pride in being selected to wear the Everton shirt, then the future looks bleak indeed.

I suspect he hasn't and with all the financial factors, rule changes etc, that Everton can't meet, I fear the worst is yet to come.

Ed Prytherch
39 Posted 23/03/2022 at 14:17:40
When Coleman was subbed against Palace, Holgate took the captain's armband. What a statement on leadership! Does the player with the most seniority become the captain?

I would give it to Allan when he returns from the unjust suspension. He and Godfrey may be the only hard players left in the squad who can lead by example.

Clive Rogers
40 Posted 23/03/2022 at 14:50:50
Glad to hear our players are knuckling under and working hard for the next 2 weeks. Or are they?

Yesterday's Sun has pictures of Dele Alli sunning himself while on holiday in Milan. He was perspiring a little though.

Paul Cherrington
41 Posted 23/03/2022 at 16:22:05
I personally have no problem with Lampard speaking from the heart, telling it like it is, and giving the players a long overdue dressing down. These players have hidden behind managers and had excuses made for them for 4 or 5 years now – enough is enough.

You have to have accountability in order to succeed. If players are not held accountable or not given a dressing down when they deserve one, they will slack off and not take on any responsibility. Which is what has been happening lately.

If any of them do not like it, they are not the people we need for this fight and should be told to get out now. Bring in some other players (U23s, fringe players) who do want to put in the graft and do their job properly.

Maybe Frank really has gone hardline and told some to get out and not bother coming back. Might explain why Dele Alli is sunning himself on hols rather than being in training?

Dale Rose
42 Posted 23/03/2022 at 16:43:24
Ed #39. Bang on the money. Allan is the only one with the experience to lead us out of this. He won't however be doing it for a couple of games.

Allan Board
43 Posted 23/03/2022 at 18:27:12
Frank is 100% right in what he said and when he said it.

A proper player would quite rightly take it as a personal insult because they have pride and care how they are perceived by their peers – and would ram his words back down his throat by their sheer determination to prove him wrong by improved performance.

It's called giving a shit about yourself and being proud of your achievements, plus always thinking you can do better.

Clever management by a fella who had all of the above – not his fault the majority of this playing staff are gutless wimps.

Play the kids, Frank – and the owner and chairman need to agree with him.

Ian Hollingworth
44 Posted 23/03/2022 at 20:00:18
Frank is spot on, sadly.

However the biggest problem is that most of them are simply not good enough.

Mike Connolly
45 Posted 23/03/2022 at 21:03:59
Just when you think you have had enough of this shit team. they start promoting another load of losers, the women's team.Just concentrate on one bag a shite at a time.

Someone mentioned that if you start calling the players out they may down tools. I thought they had down tools 6 years ago!

Rob Hooton
46 Posted 24/03/2022 at 07:13:49
This board would appoint a team psychiatrist instead of a psychologist, they are certainly driving me to need the former!

Frank is right, this team have no balls. Can he help them grow a pair? Probably not, if we do survive this season then we might well be doomed next season as we can’t afford to replace 90% of our squad. I really hope they can coach these players because they don’t look like professional footballers.

Rob Dolby
47 Posted 24/03/2022 at 08:06:06
My big fear is that Frank has a philosophy of 5 at the back and will persist with it rather than being more pragmatic with a 5 man midfield.

His frustration at calling the team out is partly his own doing. Any decent manager will identify the teams strengths and play to them.

Frank is playing 5 at the back. We don't have 1 player at the back that this formations suits. The middle 3 don't know their position and aren't good enough on the ball. The key to 5 at the back is having energetic fullbacks with quality. We don't have them so why keep playing that way.

The same defenders that look lost with 5 at the back look totally different with a 4 and a little more protection from a 5 man midfield. The Newcastle game is a prime example we defended deep had midfielders covering us and nicked the win. Why can't he carry on with that formation?

Has Frank got the bollocks to swallow his pride and play 5 in the middle?

Christine Foster
48 Posted 24/03/2022 at 08:30:18
The Sun again, a star player on a packet sunning themselves while the team is in the ****, sounds like de javu again, mind you not the same outcry and baying for blood as last time.. of course he will come right, just in time to save the team from relegation and become an overnight hero..
I think Rondon has more chance of doing that.. can we send him back to Spurs if he doesn't play this season?
Dale Rose
49 Posted 24/03/2022 at 08:45:15
I prefer your first option Christine...
Ian Riley
50 Posted 24/03/2022 at 09:11:02
Frank was wrong with his choice of words to the press! This is purely lack of experience on his part. It's a sign of desperation by a man who hasn't got a clue to manage a squad lacking in confidence and belief. You're picking a formation that clearly is not working as you don't have the players to do so!

You don't kick someone when already down. These are professional players bought by our club. Or young players in fear of playing in a relegation scrap!

So we get relegated and Frank heads back to London. Nothing to do with me? "Didn't have the balls to fight, these players" may be the response. Bollocks, Frank, you took the job. Shut up and coach them to a formation that gets a positive outcome.

Sadly, Frank, you took the easy way out and put the players under the bus. Placing more pressure on them. You, Frank, need to gather everyone, have a night out. Team morale exercise, all as one, in it together mentality! You came into a mess, Frank, to change results! We didn't sack Rafa because we were Top 6 in the league!

Everton get relegated and no-one escapes blame! We are in a battle and everyone fights together as one!

Brian Harrison
51 Posted 24/03/2022 at 09:42:44
I think that we have the most talentless bunch of players we have had for a very long time; then, added to that that, most of them are gutless as well.

Even the team in the '70s weren't great but they battled they never gave up were this lot throw their hand in as soon as the opposition score.

I hear the cry well Frank play a system that will get us points to avoid relegation, but Ancelotti did that and the stick he took on this forum for doing that was merciless. I think he wanted to play a more open game like Frank is trying but when he heard there was no money for signings he upped and left.

And if Frank adopts a similar strategy to Ancelotti, and gets us safe, those same fans would scream "I hope you don't think I am paying to watch that non-football," as some called it. Ancelotti quickly realised he had inherited a very poor side and signed Allan (still our only decent midfielder) and James who may no longer have had the legs but still created quite a few chances – and who can forget the ball to Richarlison at Anfield? Nobody presently at this club would have the vision or the talent to play that pass.

With limited funds being available because of FFP, this will be a very long process and, whoever is manager, there is no quick fix. Also, depending where we finish, it will determine how many players will have to be sold, and that means losing the decent players, so makes Frank's position even more difficult.

Len Hawkins
52 Posted 24/03/2022 at 09:49:52
After a long line of failed manager's Frank had to say it because no-one else other than the supporters seem to mind the dross we have been served since the 1980s.

But where are the supposed hierachy remember the days when Chairmen had bollocks too and kicked the dressing room door open and gave the players a verbal lashing. John Moores, Bob Lord, Sam Longson, Doug Ellis – what do we have? The Damp Tissue fawning over photo of '50s and '60s greats.

Fine, but this is 60 or 70 years on and 'greats' is no longer a word you can use to describe an Everton player and definitely not the team.

The whole club needs 'bollocks' but I fear that this Club is disappearing down the gurgler thanks to irresponsible supposed leaders.

James Hughes
53 Posted 24/03/2022 at 10:08:08
We all know that Finch farm is not a harmonious place at present. There has been posts on here from people 'in the know' about bad blood between Richarlison and Holgate. Then Brands getting them all together after Carlo left and giving them a bollocking, plus other snippets of friction within the camp.

One thing that occured to me was the recent article from Roy Keane about his time as a coach at Villa in 2014. That certain players were scumbags would not train and would not behave properly:

Roy Keane on Aston Villa coaching stint: ‘One or two players were scumbags’

I know I am jumping to tenous conclusions but our very own Fabian Delph was still at Villa at the time. Given his general level of attendance and social media spats with our fans, I am wondering is he one of the culprits for the disharmony.

Apologies for the disjointed ramblings that have no basis in fact but it's something that nags at me.

Jim Wilson
54 Posted 24/03/2022 at 11:44:23
Rob Dolby - spot on mate.
We beat Leeds and Newcastle with a back 4, played well against City with a back 4.

We do not have the players for a back 5/3 and I am baffled as to why Lampard can't see this.

We lost Allan for the Palace game and Lampards answer was to weaken the midfield further by playing Gomes in a 2.

That is why we lost control of the Palace game. Once Palace started playing we didn't have a midfield to compete with them. It was a massive tactical mistake by Lampard.

And what also makes the situation worse is changing the team formation around week on week and not recognising that we must have at least one ball winner in the midfield,

Lampard must put a makeshift ball winner in the midfield or a young lad who can do the job because without Allan our midfield will get over run in the next 2 games.

If the defence is being protected by an inept midfield it will always look vulnerable.

We need a very strong midfield and a settled back 4 and all our energy should be used to get that point across to the management.

Christine Foster
55 Posted 24/03/2022 at 12:13:46
Stuff the politically correctness, the hurt feelings of players, not wanting to hurt their feelings or pride. They know they have been dreadful, they know the position the club is in, they need to stop looking at other players and look at themselves.

Lampard has to decide who wants it badly enough. (They will all say they do but that's bollocks!) He then has to decide who he has to use to get him out of the mess not of his making.

That will probably take 5 or 6 players out of the picture. I think we know who they are already: some not good enough, some don't care enough, and some have the heart but not the skill. I suspect he has already done this.

It doesn't leave him with much, but then I am sure several managers before him thought the same but didn't voice it. Right now, he needs to stop the goals going in, especially away from home.

Ugly football required. Packed midfield of battlers not wingers. One or two up front and make it so difficult for anyone or anything to get through. We may not win many games but we won't lose as many either.

Jim Wilson
56 Posted 24/03/2022 at 12:22:44
Christine,

'Ugly football required. Packed midfield of battlers not wingers. One or two up front and make it so difficult for anyone or anything to get through. We may not win many games but we won't lose as many either.'

That is it in a nutshell and I am totally baffled why a highly paid manager and all the coaches at the club, with all their experience, are not all over this point. It's not complicated, just common sense.

4-5-1 - all day!

Robert Tressell
57 Posted 24/03/2022 at 13:20:49
Completely agree with the thread above. It is not rocket science. We've seen the likes of Allardyce, Hodgson and Ancelotti do this in recent seasons to good effect.

And in a funny sort of way it starts to breed it's own confidence because you go into games knowing you're hard to beat.

Lampard will get himself sacked unless he quickly learns the golden rules:

- don't do zonal at set pieces
- don't do 3 or 5 at the back
- don't do 2 in centre mid
- don't play open away
- don't keep changing formation
- don't play Gomes

Jim Wilson
58 Posted 24/03/2022 at 17:26:00
Robert, I completely agree with you and those 'Golden Rules' should be permanently and clearly fixed to the wall of the managers office because all our recent managers seem to be oblivious of them.

I would also add 'Take responsibility for your mistakes'.

Tony Everan
59 Posted 24/03/2022 at 18:41:49
Robert - “The Six Commandments” any manager should have to sign up to them before we hire him (or her).

I was reading an in-depth analysis of Gomes today, this one line sums it up quite simply.

‘He has been unable to make impactful contributions on either end of the pitch.'

Paul Birmingham
60 Posted 24/03/2022 at 19:46:50
Robert good points and spot on.

Time for Frank and his management team to learn from the past mistakes in most matches in 2022, and get a formation that works as an effective unit.

West Ham is now the game. Hence to start the recovery plan for survival this season.

Martin Mason
61 Posted 24/03/2022 at 20:08:50
Very interesting to read that Everton have a get-out clause in the contract with the manager and they can finish with him at the end of the season if not satisfied.
Christine Foster
62 Posted 24/03/2022 at 20:16:04
Martin, shame they don't have a return clause in the players' contracts, that would be more appropriate. The question is not if Everton would want to keep Lampard, but if Lampard wants to stay at Everton.
Tony Abrahams
63 Posted 24/03/2022 at 20:22:53
The saddest thing about watching Gomes, Tony, is that this also extends to the main area of the pitch in which he’s supposed to operate. Sly foul after sly foul, and all because he isn’t prepared to put the hard miles in for his teammates.
Steve Brown
64 Posted 25/03/2022 at 09:28:21
Perhaps Lampard should start his team talk for West Ham with that great line from Team America - "You've got balls. I like balls!"
Steve Brown
65 Posted 25/03/2022 at 09:30:00
Robert @ 57.

- don't do zonal at set pieces
- don't do 3 or 5 at the back
- don't do 2 in centre mid
- don't play open away
- don't keep changing formation
- don't play Gomes

Can you manage the team until the end of the season? I would have more confidence than I do right now.

Danny O’Neill
66 Posted 25/03/2022 at 09:46:10
Robert, with this team, those points are spot on.

How many times have many of us called for not playing 3 at the back with the defenders we have?

How many times have we called for 3 in midfield given the players we have?

And yes, stop changing formation, seemingly for the sake of tinkering. There is no logic.

Zonal marking - there's a debate to be had there. I'm not averse to it as in theory, the defence dictates where it wants to be. But it requires high levels of concentration, taking responsibility and discipline. So don't do it with the players we have now.

Too many don't dos that a myriad of managers have continued to do with a group of players that can't. Trying to make players fit a philosophy rather than looking at what you have and working to get the best out of it.

I like 3-5-2 but would never play it with this Everton squad. My preferred formation is 4-2-3-1, but we can't leave a fragile defence with only 2 midfielders with this Everton squad. It has to be 4-3-3 or 4-5-1.

Play with what you have. Don't make it fit what you want.

Jim Wilson
67 Posted 25/03/2022 at 12:34:18
I truly believe that for the next two games, while Allan is missing, Lampard has to put a makeshift ball winner in the midfield or a young lad who can do the job because without this our midfield will get over run.

Holgate has done it, Kenny could do it. They should be asked to keep it simple, hassle and harrie, put a tackle in without going over the top.

I would be reluctant to move Seamus but Patterson could be brought in at right back with Seamus playing in front of him at wide right, making the right flank very tight defensively but still with some attacking ability. With Seamus in the perfect position to help Patterson.

The next two games are going to be all about keeping it tight and stopping the opposition from playing. And of course fight and passion.

And a point at Burnley would not be a disaster.

Jay Harris
68 Posted 25/03/2022 at 14:42:48
Crazy as it may seem Delph can offset Allan's loss (as long as he doesnt get stretchered off) for the next two games along side Doucoure and VDB.

Give PAtterson a run out and put Godfrey on Antonio with Brandthwaite in for corners and free kicks. Play JJK at LB as Myolenko hasnt settled yet and we need to take Bowen out of the game.

Front three Richy DCL and Gordon.

If that team cant get a result we might as well give up.


Allen Rodgers
69 Posted 25/03/2022 at 14:43:20
Jim, Fabian Delph says hi ! He's back to save our season. Probable red card in hi second game if not the first.
Jim Wilson
70 Posted 25/03/2022 at 15:06:47
Yes if Delph can stay fit for the two games that would help.
He's a bit like Gibson in that he can come back into the team after a layoff and play ok.

I certainly hope so and I hope the penny drops with Lampard that this is what he has to do.
Four at the back and a stong battling midfield - 451 all the way to the finishing line.

Derek Williams
71 Posted 27/03/2022 at 15:05:20
I watched “Howard’s Way” for about the tenth time last night. It reminded me how many of that great team of the eighties were local, if you allow North Wales as being local, or came through the academy

Big Nev, Gary Stevens, The Rat, Degsy, Reidy, Alan Harper, Sheeds, Kevin Richardson and John Bailey to name but some. All had and clearly still have massive passion for the club. As did those who were bought in, such as Bracey, Sharpy, Psycho, Andy Gray, Tricky Trev and Inchy.

The team had a proper spine, Nev, Rats, Reidy and Bracey with the two Scots up front. Not quite so easy to play against as the current “spine” methinks. Spineless more like!!

It’s become the norm for all clubs to sign big name overseas players but we, more than most, have lost our identity with repeated poor signings of big time Charlie’s on ridiculous wages which seems to have led to them not giving a s**t about the club or the fans. Their millionaire future life styles are secured, we’ve spent so much money on dross.

It may be no coincidence that one of the very few bright lights this season has been Anthony Gordon who DOES seem to care about what is happening.

We’re sleepwalking into relegation as things stand, it can’t be any worse to give some of the younger, hungrier, lads like Dobbin and Branthwaite some game time in what remains of this miserable season. As things stand they’ll be playing for us in the Championship next term if what remains of this season is left up to the current incumbents.

Oh for a modern day Peter Reid in that midfield.

Tom Harvey
72 Posted 27/03/2022 at 20:46:36
Martin Mason @ 61

Good to hear we have a get-out clause for our manager, do we have one for Dele Alli?

When he comes back from Milan he might not have come back with the latest fashion items he really wanted or his tan might not be deep enough, this could depress him more than he already is. He might need another holiday to get over his Milan trip?

Jim Wilson
73 Posted 31/03/2022 at 22:08:45
Some tremendous comments in my opinion.

None better than Robert Tressell pointing out the 'golden rules' for Lampard:

- don't do zonal at set-pieces
- don't do 3 or 5 at the back
- don't do 2 in centre mid
- don't play open away
- don't keep changing formation
- don't play Gomes

I think this is the best advice I have seen for Frank Lampard and I would like to comment on each 'golden rule'.

Don't do zonal at set-pieces
- it never seems to work. Our defenders seem confused on who to mark and it makes our central defenders freeze. And when we play 5 at the back with 3 central defenders it is uncanny how easily we can concede a headed goal.

Don't do 3 or 5 at the back
- it is a system that I have never liked. Why have 3 central defenders (at the expense of a midfielder) when most teams employ one or two forwards and at most one tall forward. The central defenders seem to get in each other's way and don't know who to mark. If the full-back or wingback has made a forward run and we get caught on the break, we are exposed down the flanks, and the central defenders are all over the place.

In a conventional 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 the wide men can protect our full-backs and make us much more solid defensively. Away from home I would play 4-5-1, at home it can be used more positively in a 4-3-3.

Away from home, especially while Allan is suspended, I think there is a case to play Coleman wide right in front of Patterson or Kenny, making the right flank very good defensively but retaining an attacking ability.

Don't do 2 in centre mid
- we have to employ 3 in centre midfield right now, especially while Allan is out with either defensive wide men or attacking wingers on the flanks.

Don't play open away
- While the team is trying to find some confidence and pattern of play, playing an open game away is just asking for trouble and is sealing our fate. 451 against Spurs, with defensive wide men, would have given us a more solid midfield and stopped Spurs from cutting us open so easily.

Don't keep changing formation
- this is perhaps the most important golden rule and if a manager doesn't know this essential fundamental, he should not be a manager.

By playing a settled formation and reasonably settled team the players start to feel comfortable with the tactics and form partnerships and understanding with each other and the passing etc starts to look more assured. The constant changing of formation stops the team from ever developing and when players are not confident or don't know what they should be doing it can make them look like they don't care.

I am baffled that Lampard and all coaches he has do not appear to know this fundamental.

Don't play Gomes

- I thought it was incredible that Lampard thought replacing the suspended Allan with Gomes, and in a two-man midfield, was a good idea against Palace.

Maybe Gomes could be used as the attacking midfielder in a 4-5-1 formation but defensively he is clearly a liability. While Allan is missing, I think it is crucial for Lampard to play a makeshift ball winner in his place.

In my opinion, Kenny could do the job with simple instructions to hassle and harrie and put a tackle in when needed without going over the top. Having a midfield that is mobile enough to stop West Ham and Burnley playing is far more important than putting Gomes in when you know he won't be able to compete.

The problem against Palace was once they got going, we had no one to stop them and break up their play. Our system only worked while we were on the ascendancy.

We must make ourselves harder to beat, starting at West Ham and it goes without saying that we must come away from the Burnley game with at least a point.

Although I think Van De Beek was a good signing it was vital for Everton to bring in a midfield ball winner in the January window, Another massive blunder but the manager must address this problem the best he can.

The team desperately needs a settled formation and a formation the players can get behind and know exactly what they need to do. Four at the back has worked for us under Lampard, against Leeds, City and Newcastle. With a three-man midfield we have looked like a team that can compete with the opposition at home. Away from home this system just needs tightening up and not playing too open.

Lampard criticising his players is not going to help anyone. They need encouragement and motivation and a settled formation with midfielders who can get a grip of the midfield when the opposition start to play. Tactics are good in theory but there are two teams two sets of tactics and we need some battlers in the midfield for when the going gets tough.

I want a settled formation and reasonably settled team and by the time we play Liverpool we have to be looking much more solid.

We may not have the players to compete at the highest level but there is something very wrong with the tactics when the team can crumble so easily. And from what I can see we got rid of Benitez because he was unwilling to change his tactics, which included changing the team formation game after game, only to be replaced by someone who is making the same mistake.

If Lampard can't get a tune out of the players and if we don't get at least a point from the Burnley game, he should go while there is still time for someone else to take charge and keep us up.

The consequences of relegation are enormous so everything must be done to ensure this does not happen. At the moment Lampard is not giving me the confidence that he will steer us clear and blaming the tools is not doing us any favours.

With just a little football common sense and a little luck I don't think we will have a problem. It is on Lampard to show he has what it takes to keep us safe.

I don't believe that the players don't want to fight for the club's survival. They are just looking for leadership and the right tactics they can get behind with determination and conviction.

I just wish Frank Lampard could see those six golden rules and take note of them!

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