Lampard has the scale of his task laid bare

Lyndon Lloyd 08/02/2022 55comments  |  Jump to last
Newcastle United 3 - 1 Everton

In preparing to take charge of his new squad, Frank Lampard will have studied video of Everton’s recent performances and seen for himself how a team increasingly bereft of confidence had failed to register a Premier League victory since early December. It’s one thing to view it fairly dispassionately with a critical eye on a screen but quite another to watch the confidence that had been ignited by the FA Cup win on Saturday drain out his players before his eyes from the touchline.

This harrowing defeat on Tyneside laid bare the size of the task Lampard faces at Everton, one that is about much more than rebuilding shattered confidence and making this team play a more effective brand of football now that he has lost three players to injury in both of the first halves he has overseen thus far. Worse, two of the injuries have afflicted his two best centre-halves which will compound serious deficiencies in defensive midfield.

The hamstring injury Ben Godfrey sustained against Brentford also exacerbated a lack of cover at left-back; Yerry Mina’s latest injury set-back removes the backbone from Everton’s defence and leaves the new manager with just three recognised centre-halves, one of them still very green as Jarrad Branthwaite demonstrated this evening while the atmosphere inside St James’s Park became increasingly intense.

Worryingly, there was fear in this Everton performance; panic at times, as Allan Saint-Maximin, the game’s outstanding player, tormented them with his pace, drive and sheer unpredictability. The Frenchman set up what was effectively the winner for Ryan Fraser to score his first Premier League goal for Newcastle (15 months after he signed for them) and prompted the clumsy foul from Everton’s Allan that led to Kieran Trippier putting the icing on the Geordie’s cake with his own maiden strike from a direct free-kick.

St James’s Park can be a difficult place for Everton to play and Newcastle have been awkward opponents for Toffees teams over the years, not least last season when they beat Carlo Ancelotti’s side home and away. Tonight, against a side rested after a fortnight off, was another sorry trip to the North East but things might have been different had Lampard’s men been able to consolidate the lead they established in the 36th minute rather than surrender it almost immediately through profligacy at the back.

It was an illustration for Lampard that where this Everton team proved adept at playing through Brentford because Thomas Frank’s side largely let them, against Newcastle’s relentless press, they struggled for space and passing lanes, particularly once the Magpies had gone ahead and couldn't cope.

In that sense, the introduction of Donny van de Beek was instructive because where André Gomes let him and his side down badly with another of those performances that has made his time at Goodison so frustrating, the Dutchman was confident in possession and near faultless with his distribution. He rarely had options ahead of him, however — at one point he threw his hands up with the ball at his feet imploring someone to give him a target — but Lampard will know that he has an important asset there who should walk into the starting XI on Saturday against Leeds.

Whether through a desire to reward the bulk of Saturday’s team or an acknowledgement that they might not have been match sharp, Lampard left Van de Beek and his other deadline signing, Dele Alli, on the bench. He was forced to improvise in the left wing-back position by deploying Andros Townsend there after Vitalii Mykolenko was ruled out after returning an inconclusive Covid-19 test.

The match began in frenetic fashion but Everton had just about weathered it despite awful distribution in their own half in the early stages, particularly from Mina and Gomes. Richarlison and Anthony Gordon almost carved out an early chance but the former failed to spot the latter’s clever run into clear space on the edge of the hosts’ penalty area.

The Brazilian then dragged a shot a yard or so wide in the 12th minute and Townsend saw a later effort take a heavy deflection behind and Mina couldn’t keep his header down from the resulting corner.

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Everton lost Gray to a hip injury, however, after just 25 minutes and he was replaced by Dele who had one shot charged down in an otherwise subdued remainder of the half to start his Blues career.

Newcastle had been feisty and aggressive but they were largely being kept at arm’s length. Jonjoe Shelvey had smashed a second-minute chance inches over after Mina’s slack pass had gifted Newcastle possession and Jordan Pickford had safely gathered after the ball had bounced goal-wards off Chris Wood but Howe’s side didn’t have a clear chance until just past the half-hour mark when Pickford had to make a good save with his foot while Mina lay prone on the turf clutching his upper thigh.

The Colombian did his best to convince the physio that he could continue when clearly he couldn’t and he was replaced by Jarrad Branthwaite.

It was from a reckless Shelvey tackle on the tireless Gordon, one that on another day might have resulted in a red card, that the visitors took the lead. Townsend swung the free-kick in and when the ball broke to Holgate his shot was cleared off the line but into Lascelles who could only watch helplessly as the ball bounced over the goal line.

It was a moment that called for composure from Everton but when Holgate’s first attempted pass out of defence came back off a Newcastle attacker, he repeated the error by aiming a sloppy pass in Allan’s general direction, one that overran its target and was intercepted which required Michael Keane to clear it behind.

Unfortunately, the Blues’ set-piece frailty reared its head again and Lascelles was able to meet Kieran Trippier’s corner and crash it off the crossbar, the rebound hitting Holgate and rebounding into the net to make it 1-1.

Wood might have turned the contest on its head when Ryan Fraser’s deflected shot fell to him in front of goal but he put a tame header into Pickford’s arms while Joelinton mis-kicked when Saint-Maximin’s cut-back skidded invitingly to him near the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.

If Lampard had tried to calm his new charges down and impress on them the need to keep their heads, the advice didn’t seem to be heeded in the second half. Gomes picked up his customary booking for pulling an opponent back once he had gone past him while Richarlison was scythed down in Newcastle’s half by Fabian Schär who was also shown a yellow card.

And it was another individual error that led to the hosts’ second goal. Dele was dispossessed in his own half, the ball was fed to Saint-Maximin who drove past Seamus Coleman to the byline, clipped the ball into the six-yard box where Fraser knocked it home from close range to put the Magpies ahead.

Everton had a decent chance to test Martin Dubravka at the other end just a couple of minutes later when Richarlison was fouled on the edge of the box but the Brazilian despatched a poor free-kick into the wall. Meanwhile, the nerves were getting to the Blues' back line, particularly when Saint-Maximin had the ball at his feet.

He forced one save from Pickford that Wood turned into the net before being flagged offside but when the Frenchman accelerated past Allan and drew a foul from the Brazilian midfielder, it gave Trippier the chance to wrap things up. The former England full-back did just that by bending a free-kick around the wall and inside the post with 10 minutes left.

And it might have been worse because while Everton toiled in midfield, the impressive substitute Donny van de Beek trying his hardest to drive Lampard's men forward in the closing stages, Jacob Murphy hit the post late on and Pickford denied Joe Willock from the rebound and Saint-Maximin almost got the goal his performance deserved when his injury-time effort was deflected just past the post.

It’s unlikely Lampard was under many illusions as to how difficult this job might be in the short term but after the victory over Brentford, he might have been lulled slightly into a sense that the optimism around his arrival and the “new broom” effect had banished the worst of the fears plaguing the group he inherited from Rafael Benitez.

Tonight will have brought home to him that the work he and his staff need to do in the coming weeks will be on psychology as much as it is on drilling the players on his methods. There is talent in this squad, much of it at the top of the pitch and it needs to be harnessed by the application of a system that can provide them ammunition but there are mental hurdles to clear as well.

Newcastle provided the model for Everton to follow, though, when they are at home. Pound for pound, they are no better than the Blues but they ably demonstrated the huge advantage that can be made of an aggressive, relentless performance, a raucous home crowd and individual brilliance.

We’re just a week into the new manager’s tenure. He is still learning about what he has at his disposal. it’s too soon for him to have impressed upon the players the way he wants to play and teething problems in reverting back to a more possession-based approach were inevitable. With 45% of the Premier League season still to go, there’s still time but Lampard needs to find the answers quickly nonetheless.

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Reader Comments (55)

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John Moore
1 Posted 09/02/2022 at 07:23:02
Football is a simple game really, you get a ball pass it to a mate then run into a bit a space and he passes it back. I mean, how hard is that?

We seem to have a few players who can't do the first bit and a few more who, who don't understand the second.

Get them youngsters in who played against Chelsea.

Benjamin Dyke
2 Posted 09/02/2022 at 07:25:17
Thanks Lyndon as always for a calm, thoughtful report.

We're very short on confidence but it's not helped when you have so many players who misplace passes regularly or get caught in possession. This puts the opponents on the front foot.

The whole psychology of the game flipped when we scored – and not in our favour as should have been the case. Holgate believed his own press again for his goal involvement and then became relaxed and far too complacent and gave the ball away leading to their corner and subsequently goal after our usual terrible marking at a corner.

There are many games left but breaking this absolutely shocking run is going to take a miracle or solid home results, hopefully starting with Leeds on Saturday.

Kirk McArdle
3 Posted 09/02/2022 at 08:18:07
Saw the game here on TV in South Africa and couldn't believe the amount of short 5- to 10-yard passes that didn't reach the player. For a Premier League player not to have a simple short-pass ability is criminal. Even with the Newcastle high press, we couldn't pass through the lines.

Defence is a worry but our main core issue is complete lack of any quality in midfield. Allan looks a shadow of himself – he was one of the best players in his position in Italy – and I honestly do not know what Gomes brings to the team. A 6'-2" guy who offers no strength or pace at all.

With Van de Beek having a fairly decent cameo appearance last night then he should slot straight into the box to box role at the weekend.

With so much of the season still to play then I still feel that there are three worse team than us who will finish below but there is gonna be some squeaky bum time over the next 3 to 4 months.

Lampard has a hell of a job on his hands here.

Michael Lynch
4 Posted 09/02/2022 at 08:49:51
I thought Newcastle were excellent but they couldn't have wished for more timid and ineffective opposition. We have so few fit options in defence now, and our midfield lacks anyone with pace and quick thinking. It's hard to see where the necessary points will come from.

Filipe Torres
5 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:01:39
It's almost impossible to keep a clean sheet with Keane and Mina... both struggle to have the focus to perform on set pieces. They are error prone under the pressure that come along with players moving inside the penalty area. They lack the concentration and focus, and they have single handed cost the job of managers since Silva.

And you can add zouma to the lot as well, I'm not saying they don't have qualities... but they are too many with the same default approach. Should sell them and get experienced and more focused central defenders.

Godfrey and holgate are pacey defenders, and can play as left or right-backs, but aren't the most solid too. Get some rough old fashion central defenders to play in the Championship or we will be League One in 2 years time.

Mal van Schaick
6 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:14:26
Lampard has to cull players who are repeatedly making mistakes, especially in defence, or else I fear the worst for us. We are at a tipping point.

His team selection and player reaction in the Leeds game may define our season.

Chris Leyland
7 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:24:03
Mal - the problem is, his selection options are severely limited.

He has no left back available
He has 3 right-backs – a veteran who has seen his best days are way behind him (Coleman), a lad who simply isn't ever going to be good enough (Kenny) and a Rangers reserve (Paterson);
He has 3 fit centre-backs – the calamity brothers in Keane and Holgate, and a young Branthwaite;
He has no proper holding midfielder;
He then has Allan and Gomes and a load of attacking players.

If you cull players who are repeatedly making mistakes, then that is Coleman, Keane, Holgate, Allan and Gomes out but nothing to come in to replace them.

Christopher Timmins
8 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:32:36
Since we drew 1 - 1 at Old Trafford we have picked up 5 points from 14 games, therefore, last night's result is no major surprise. You need to be a very poor to team to accumulate such a small number of points over a third of a season.

The new manager has a major job on his hands to keep us up, a task which even the likes of Big Sam might not be able to accomplish at this stage.

As stated in Lyndon's column Donny van de Beek should be a definite starter at the weekend and, when Doucouré comes back, I am not sure if either Allan or Gomes should be starters.

In the short term, we need Mykoleno back for Saturday and to give him a run of games. We also need to get a number of games into Alli, Calvert-Lewin and Van de Beek in order to get them up to speed. All have played too little football during the season to date. We will have to sit and suffer while this process works itself out.

Watford, Newcastle and Norwich have all beaten us this season and two of those three will probably be relegated.

Chris Leyland
9 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:34:53

Mykolenko had tested positive for Covid, hasn't he? We have no left-back, which is a major issue.

Brian Harrison
10 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:51:20
While that was a very disappointing result last night, I would just add a couple of caveats.

First, Newcastle had a fortnight to prepare for last nights game, and we had played against Premier League opposition in the Cup on Saturday.

Also Lampard has come in where he finds one of our most influential midfield players injured, ie, Doucoure, then losses Godfrey within 15 minutes of Saturdays game, and 24 hours before the Newcastle game he loses Mykolenko.

Then within the first 25 minutes he loses Gray who is instrumental to how we play, then 10 minutes later he loses Mina.

We also know that this squad has always struggled when we only have 3 days to prepare from one game to another.

Having said all of that there were still some poor performances on display last night, but Lampard hasn't got a magic wand – some of these players are just not good enough.

He is also trying to get them to play in a different style to the previous manager, and that will take more than 5 or 6 training sessions for that to start to have an impact.

But what he needs is for the fans to keep faith, as he will need Goodison to be just like it was Saturday if we are to stay in this division. We can't afford to be negative although I know in the back of all our minds is will this be the year we don't survive.

I have a lot of confidence in Lampard and his coaches to keep us up, but we need our better players on the park and not on the treatment table.

Mike Connolly
11 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:51:48
Newcastle away, I wished I had not bothered.

We set off from The Prenton. We got stuck for over an hour on Edge Lane. Arrived at Newcastle and parked the car up. Then this is were you do a fitness test. 20 minutes walking up hill to the stadium just to warm you up.

Into the away end, or is it Kilimanjaro. some one on here the other day mentioned that there were a lot of steps. A lot of steps... me Fit Bit blew up. People were stranded halfway up the stairs and when you finally get to the top there is another load of steps to get to your seat.

Then you start questioning your eye sight... should I go to Spec Savers – you're that far away. We did have something to cheer about even if it only lasted a minute.

I take my hat off to our supporters who make the trip every year. And after all that the team play shit. Leeds Saturday – my Upper Bulllens seat will be a doddle to get to.

Bill Fairfield
12 Posted 09/02/2022 at 09:52:28
It will be something like a miracle if Lampard keeps us up. It'll be the same in-your-face press against Leeds and Southampton, and this squad haven't got the brains and guts to stand up to it.

We are in massive trouble now. Defeat on Saturday is unthinkable.

Rick Tarleton
13 Posted 09/02/2022 at 10:28:26
The point Chris Leyland (7) makes is a key one. The squad is very unbalanced.

Mykolenko's covid adds to the problem, but I haven't been hugely impressed with him so far. A new country and a new system must be difficult, but he isn't the new Wilson or Baines.

Last night, we had a lot of useless possession. We didn't know quite what to do with the ball when we had it, which has been a recurring problem all season.

Van de Beek may provide some much needed energy in midfield, Dele Alli looked like a player who wasn't sure what he had to do or where he ought to be. He needs match sharpness, but we can't afford to wait too long for him to reach the fitness and speed necessary.

Mina's a big unit and we'll miss him. He seems to be one of the Everton long list of perpetually injured or getting back to fitness brigade. They're a long list. Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Davies, Mina, Doucoure, Gray is now injured, et alia. Are we just unlucky?

We need Van de Beek and Alli to come good against the vigour of the heavy-pressing Leeds side on Saturday; we need Calvert-Lewin back and we need Keane and Holgate to up their game.

Writing down what we need is not a great help, but Lampard has got to discover what can motivate our players. I really enjoyed Goodison last Saturday, and had hoped that that display would galvanise the team. I had realised Brentford were awful, but told myself we'd made them awful.

Benitez told us in December to wait for February when we'd start winning. I hope he's right, but his prophecy was based on having a more-or-less fit squad. That is not likely to happen as we now have even more injuries.

John Raftery
14 Posted 09/02/2022 at 11:25:32
Before last night’s match I would have happily settled for a draw. We were fortunate not to be on the end of a 5-1 thrashing. Gomes has hardly ever played well away from home. His performance in the Pickford derby at Anfield was the exception. He is too slow and an utter liability in his own half. The faults in his game were there in his first season, well before his injury.

Mina’s injury was predictable. When will managers or the medical staff, if any are still there, realise this player can only play one game a week? There is a wider issue regarding the injury toll and why so many of our players, including the younger ones, seem so susceptible to muscular strains. I have no idea what the root cause of the problem is but something needs to change.

Van de Beek looked promising. He was tidy on the ball, passed well and looked willing and able to run the hard yards in midfield. I was slightly surprised not to see him in the starting line-up but he has played very little football in recent weeks. Dele looked totally lost after he came on but I thought he showed a little more in the second half. By then it was too little, too late.

Where we go from here with the players available is far from clear. We ground out a draw at Chelsea with a defensive set-up and about 20% of possession. It is hard to see any other approach paying dividends against the better teams, especially away from home. Against the rest we must hope to encounter a few flaky mid table teams with nothing much to play for and that all of our players match the effort and determination shown by Anthony Gordon last night.

Dennis Stevens
15 Posted 09/02/2022 at 11:27:37
Apparently, Lampard is the first new Manager to lose his first League match since Gordon Lee back in '77. On the plus side, it's the first time we've taken the lead in successive matches since August last year.

Much work for the new man & his team to do, but I think it's doable. I wonder whether he'll be tempted to switch to 433, if only to reduce the number of defenders on the pitch by 20% - we're running out of them!

Robert Tressell
16 Posted 09/02/2022 at 11:40:00
Does anyone think we would have lost if the referee / VAR had done the job correctly and sent off Shelvey?
Shane Corcoran
17 Posted 09/02/2022 at 12:02:19
Robert, you might be right but I suppose the point is we’ve been beaten and where to next.

We need points quickly and I fear the worst against Leeds.

We need three in midfield as Allan and Gomes will be overrun again. VDB seems the way to go.

After that, I’m not sure. DCL strikes me as a player that needs a hell of a lot of game time to get to his best. His basic forward skills seem to desert him after a spell out.

I’d be tempted to go Alli up front with Richy and Gordon either side in a 4-3-3 with Andros filling in at left back.

Phil Gardner
18 Posted 09/02/2022 at 12:04:41
In short, Lampard can see that the words of Mr Benitez we're spot on. ‘Individual errors' are costing this team and that is difficult to train out of them.

Nine times in the first 30 minutes, Everton surrendered possession for no apparent reason in our own third… nine times! Mina was responsible for 6 misplaced passes alone.

Basically, they're not talented enough players to be trusted to make a 10-yard pass to their own players… they're shite. Systems, set-pieces etc can all be drilled into them but, if they keep spunking up possession, they'll keep getting beaten.

Clearly, when in the ascendency, losing Mina and Gray doesn't help, anymore than a cowardly referee allowing a noisy, inbred home crowd to referee the game and failing to send shitbag Shelvey off. But this team's problems lie much deeper and I genuinely fear for the season ahead.

Also… Lampard needs a competent and modern medical staff because this shower incur injuries not seen since the Somme, for fuck's sake!

Jim Wilson
19 Posted 09/02/2022 at 12:46:53
It is utter madness to play 3 central defenders when we clearly need another player in midfield.

This is how Benitez got us in trouble in the first place.

433 (or 451 depending on how you look at it) is a must against Leeds. We have to stop them from getting a grip on the game. And Van De Beek must start.

If we don't have a left back available we have to play Kenny. He will give his all even when played out of position.

Jacques Sandtonian
20 Posted 09/02/2022 at 13:15:00
It’s looking increasingly like our hopes rest on the shoulders of Keane and Holgate. At least our hopes of keeping the ball out of our own net. I don’t think Keane has the mental fortitude and Holgate appears to not be premier league quality. It’s weird how we started this season feeling as if we had an abundance of central defenders and now we’re bereft of them. I’ve never been this worried for Everton.
Shane Corcoran
21 Posted 09/02/2022 at 13:36:16
Phil, it’s not that simple as I’m sure you know.

The intended recipient, the player marking him and other opposition players who might fill the space in front of the pass, do not stand still while one of our players hits a ten yard pass.

Joe Corgan
22 Posted 09/02/2022 at 13:46:32
The biggest issue last night was how easily we panicked and folded to a Newcastle team who had clearly been instructed to run us ragged.

Brentford stood off us on Saturday and allowed us to play our game. Clearly, Eddie Howe is no mug and sent his team out to press us and go in hard knowing that we'd capitulate as we've done all season. The problem is that it's an easy instruction to give a team and I expect Bielsa will ask Leeds to do the same at the weekend.

How do we mitigate that? I'm not sure but I think the extra man in midfield in vital. Lampard may be forced into doing just that because of the lack of fit centre-halfs. Having that extra body should prevent extra options when attempting to go forward and provide some extra cover for our shaky, nervous, back-line. Beyond that I'd probably suggest fighting fire-with-fire. Go at the same with the same level of intensity and desire as Newcastle showed against us. Offence is the best form is defence isn't it?

Michael Connelly
23 Posted 09/02/2022 at 13:57:27
Fair play to Lampard getting in Van De Beek before the deadline. At least there is someone there able to put their foot on the ball and play a pass in the middle of the park when under pressure away from home. Because sure as f. Gomes can't do it.
Jerome Shields
24 Posted 09/02/2022 at 15:33:20
Confidence is a nice way of putting it, but this has been the default position many times over many seasons. Newcastle did what Lower Leagues have being doing to Everton for seasons. Everton managed to make them look better than they are. Sheffield United last season and Norwich this season.

Whilst some players are one dimensional like Gomes only to have their other side exposed, there are players that are not putting the work and effort in on the training ground and it shows with clueless positioning, poor concentration, wayward passing, below par fitness and a caving in mentality.

This is the underlying Everton we all know and have seen many times. They needed points and knew it, though they still as a team performanced as if they didn't. How many players looked bothered? Newcastle players looked bothered. Threat of relegation ; the Manager cannot blamed this time, the players are to blame and those who have prepared and
overseen this tripe over seasons.

No matter what happens, false dawns, New Managers, the odd up lifting performance, the real problem is that Everton is a badly run Club, with alot people in positions they not capable incompetent.

Lack of confidence is a excuse. As for Newcastle having a two week break, next thing we will hear is complaints of a match backlog and a extended FA cup run tiring them out. Then we will have Summer holiday mode in March. .

Compared to the lower league teams they have played , they look like a joke.

Bill Hawker
25 Posted 09/02/2022 at 15:54:20
John #1.

I think it was Cruyff who said "Football is the simplest game in the world but it's the hardest game in the world to play simply."

As for Everton, the word it out. Press us at every possible opportunity and we'll either cough it up or pass it to the opposition. Win a set piece against us and you're odds on to score.

IF Frank can get those two pieces of the puzzle fixed, we may have a chance. I keep going back to the 5-2 loss to Watford. That was THE match that let me know how much trouble we're in. I hate to say it but I'm not sure where our next win is coming from. I'd like to think next weekend against Leeds but even that one isn't a comforting prospect, especially with all of the injuries we have.

In my opinion, we need at least three or four more wins out of our last 17 matches. I'm not terribly optimistic.

Howard Sykes
26 Posted 09/02/2022 at 17:41:41
I remember three or four we3eks ago we (Benitez) sold our best (only) left back for peanuts to Villa. to fund buying a new left back and a new right back. I had assumed that Rafa was buying players who could just plug into those positions in the PL. Assume makes an ass of u and me. How can a so called good manager make such a clusterf**k?
Jack Convery
27 Posted 09/02/2022 at 20:43:04
Well, now Frank knows what we already knew. It's not good, is it? In fact, it's ridiculously bad.

The things we must always remember that this is the culmination of utter mismanagement at out club. An incompetent board made up of amateurs, when it comes to running a football club, never mind a Premier League club with a proud heritage in the game. An owner who, when it comes to football, knows sod-all.

After Moyes left a team built with a sound defence, we go and recruit a joker from the Ossie Ardilles school of "We'll score more than them" (He relegated Wigan!!), when we should have recruited a manager who built from the back.

After his tenure, the defence was destroyed and it has never, ever been rebuilt to stand up to the harsh reality of the Premier League. Coleman, who has been a tremendous servant to Everton, is still here. Even he would admit he should have been replaced by now. Yet he was offered a contract extension – who authorised that?

Baines was even asked by Carlo to stay on for another year but declined. This shows a complete lack of forward planning. The replacements for Jagielka and Distin have never performed anywhere near their level. Yet Keane and Holgate had their contracts extended. Why?

Digne came in and did very well but went badly off the boil. Yet Nkounkou was allowed to go loan, thus decreasing the pressure on Digne to perform to a decent standard.

Mina came in but spends more time on the treatment table. Godfrey has done well. Branthwaite I like... but he is still raw.

Kenny should have been sold a few seasons ago. If he could not reach Coleman's standards 2 seasons ago, why is he still here?

Patterson was bought and is not being played. The fee paid for a Rangers reserve was ridiculous – who authorised that amount?

Mykolenko was brought in and it's still to be seen if he will be good enough.

As an aside, Newcastle brought in Trippier – a first-class right-back, who can play left-back too. He takes excellent free-kicks and is a leader. Just saying.

In midfield, we have never had a midfielder of the stature of Gareth Barry since he left. Koeman cocked up big style when he let him go.

We bought 3 number 10s – too much money on one, a complete waste of money on another, and a Kenwright romantic buy. Hardly great management was it? 2 have gone and the other looks like he won't be back.

McCarthy was kept too long as his injuries had caught up with him. Allan was a very good player but we have only seen a shadow of the player Carlo managed at Napoli...

James, again, was past his best. However, what he did have left in the tank created and scored goals. Calvert-Lewin misses James and we have not replaced him.

Doucouré has been okay, given he's not really played in his best position most of the time. Gomes has just flattered to deceive. Gbamin has been unfortunate. Davies should have been sold. Delph a waste of space and yet we knew his injury record when we bought him!! Who sanctioned that one?

Finally Iwobi... I won't even go there – but someone authorised a fee of around £35M be paid!! Beggars belief!!!

Up-front, we all know no-one has really replaced the Jokers best buy – Lukaku. Calvert-Lewin looked good last season, with James and Richarlison. This season has been a non starter for him and we desperately need his goals soon.

Tosun, Walcott and Rondon... least said the better. Koeman wanted Giroud but where was Plan B? It never existed. Yet another example of poor planning.

I won't go into the manager merry-go-round as it's just all to depressing.

We are now where we are. All the poor decisions, the total mismanagement of our club have finally caught up with us. How Frank Lampard deals with this mess will either make or break his management career.

I can only hope it makes it as it is all on him now. We the fans will need to make Goodison the proverbial bear pit for the rest of the season to help get our club over the line and retain our top division status.

Barry Hesketh
28 Posted 09/02/2022 at 20:50:15
Jack @

The fun fact is that the board are no longer amateurs in the true sense of the word, they receive generous sums of money to do their everyday tasks for the club, at least that's according to a graphic that Paul the Esk supplied on his site.

Directors renumeration

Tony Abrahams
29 Posted 09/02/2022 at 20:53:33
There are massive rumours that Benitez never actually wanted either of those players, Howard, which beggars belief if true.
Jack Convery
30 Posted 09/02/2022 at 20:54:42
Barry. yes I know. Just very, very depressing.
David Currie
31 Posted 09/02/2022 at 20:57:25
Chris @8,

No way will Newcastle and Norwich get relegated, Smith and Howe are both good managers who are improving their respective teams.

We are in a real fight to stay up.

Paul Kernot
32 Posted 09/02/2022 at 21:15:34
Robert #16. I was screaming 'that's a red all day' at the TV after the 2 footed Shelvey challenge and what? Nothing.

God knows we needed divine intervention, luck, who knows? The way the game was going at that point though, I'm not even convinced Shelvey walking would have made much difference. They wanted it far more than us.

Nick Bower
34 Posted 09/02/2022 at 21:31:24
I hope Lampard takes a leaf out of Ron Greenwood's 1970s book of football tactics. I loved those West Ham matches which were described as "custard pie" games, often ending 3-2 or 4-3.

If we cannot defend, we will have to try and out-score opponents – it will take some brave and committed players to do it though. Lampard's dad was one of them for the Irons, so our manager knows best what's needed.

Christopher Nicholls
35 Posted 09/02/2022 at 22:04:26
It is a dire predicament with the current injury list, but in no way would I ever want to go back to Moyes school. Superimposing yesterday's tactics on today's Premier League isn't likely to result in a good outcome.

The simple fact is that we have 3 fit centre-backs for the immediate future and an excruciating lack of left-back options. Defending first like Benitiez or the back end of Carlo's time will likely not yield points. We will have to forge a defence from what we have.

We do have talent in the attacking areas and, for me, Calvert-Lewin is a fine centre-forward that we need on the pitch getting minutes right away. We simply do not have a better goalscorer at the club. Richie is better on the left and Gordon can cross a ball. Let's not over-complicate it. Van de Beek and Dele Alli will add quality and movement to midfield.

I'm going to choose to be optimistic, back the manager and yell at the telly as loud as possible (until my wife yells at me for waking her up).

Once a blue and all that.

Ian Riley
36 Posted 09/02/2022 at 22:04:54
I feel for Frank. Relegation on your CV never sits well long-term. Fans never forget and owners rarely give second chances.

I wanted Big Sam short-term as he has experience of fighting relegation and his record is pretty good. I cannot say last night would have been a different result but Sam sets out to defend first. Long ball, yes, when required.

We must play ugly now, work like never before. Frank is trying to win the players over. Every manager in any type of industry goes through it but time may be against Frank to get the wins required.

I am back to looking at other clubs' results and thinking of all the permutations. There is still hope and my goodness we are clinging to it like our lives depend on it. It's a waiting game with no power over it. It's the worst periods we go through in life.

Stay positive!!!

Jack Convery
37 Posted 09/02/2022 at 22:22:20
Norwich pick up a point, as do Leeds. Brentford may be are saving grace, along with Burnley and Watford. Fingers crossed!!
Jerome Shields
38 Posted 09/02/2022 at 22:24:59
Tony #29,

I did get the impression that the January transfer window was conducted without Benitez's involvement.

Patterson was a follow-on from Brands. The deal regarding Digne to Aston Villa, with a loanee for midfield and Mykolenko coming in as a replacement, is too neat. Then Van de Beek loaned from Man Utd, Dele Alli offered, and Lampard giving approval.

I wonder who sourced and decided on these players? Maybe Frank was involved in the move for Dele Alli, but I don't think he is his type of player. So was Frank involved in this as well?

IMO, Benitez sought to leave so readily because of transfers.

Paul Birmingham
39 Posted 09/02/2022 at 22:27:02
The scale of the task for the Leeds is massive.

Professional pride and playing for the shirt, but the bulk of the team last night stunk the place out in terms of the basics needed to compete in any football match.

Leeds will fancy their chances – this is the match of this season in terms of significance, so Everton must go all out to avoid the relegation trap.

Will an Everton team that believes in itself turn up? Let's hope so.

Jerome Shields
40 Posted 09/02/2022 at 23:06:17
Barry #28,

Moshiri isn't a Director and Everton are third in the Premier League after Man Utd and Tottenham for reimbursement of directors. No wonder the extraordinary lengths to retain position and control.

Don Alexander
41 Posted 10/02/2022 at 00:38:45
Jack (#27), well said indeed Sir!

I truly admire your ability to spell out at length (whereas I just blurt out what we both see as the bleedin' obvious) to those of us still seemingly unable to see that our current plight is not merely confined to this month's manager.

No, it is attributable almost entirely to the owner and boardroom (and whichever snide so-and-so they allow to pull their strings) who between themselves over the past 30 or 6 years (take your choice), and still sadly counting, re-define "dysfunctionality" and "unprofessionalism" when it comes to successfully running a professional football club of any status whatsoever, never mind one of a mere 12 founder members of the professional game world-wide, as we are.

I don't blame people for expounding opinions on how bizarre it is that our players so consistently fail to perform even moderately, by citing better "formation", "transmission" (what?) and so on and so on but I'm confident everyone at Finch Farm can see very soon after they arrive that the club is run, at levels extending from the top to the lowest ranks of "coaches", by psuedo, greedy, "I'm only in it for me" characters. Surprise, surprise – they very quickly adopt the same attitude rather than try to change the monolith of incompetence they've just joined.

And why would they, being paid £millions a year for doing fuck-all?

Best of luck, Frank and your coaches.

Jerome Shields
42 Posted 10/02/2022 at 08:37:10
Digne: Who really wanted this transfer other than the player? It resulted in Adgi on loan and covered the cost od Patterson and Mykolenko's transfer in. Was Benitez involved in these transfers?If not who was involved?
Jeff Spiers
43 Posted 10/02/2022 at 10:22:12
ToffeeWebbers, your hand on heart. The three teams going down?
Brian Murray
44 Posted 10/02/2022 at 10:40:01
Jeff. Watford, Norwich, Liverpool – well you didn't mention hand on head!
Jeff Spiers
45 Posted 10/02/2022 at 10:49:39
Brian @44.

You are right, I should have said hand on head!

James Head
46 Posted 10/02/2022 at 10:53:30
It's a fight for survival between us, Burnley, Watford, Norwich, Newcastle and Brentford.

The Geordies look like they're on a roll with their players showing aggression and commitment. Norwich look fitter and better organised than our mixed bag of over-the-hill, can't-be-arsed inadequates. Burnley definitely have a fight in them.

With everyone fit, I think we'd be okay but having to rely on Keane and Holgate to defend our goal doesn't fill me with any confidence.

One positive for Saturday is that Leeds looked out on their feet after pulling their tripe out at Villa last night. Desperate, I know, but maybe the extra day's rest could work in our favour. ( sad isn't it)

Allen Rodgers
47 Posted 10/02/2022 at 11:16:55
In recent weeks, we've played 3 of the 4 teams below us and gifted them 3 points each to help their cause. Had we taken all 9 points, we'd be 11th in the table and able to relax.

As it is, our spineless players seem determined to get us relegated. I dread having to go to Arsenal on the last day, needing to get something.

Phil Gardner
48 Posted 10/02/2022 at 13:22:15
Shane @21.

I watched the game very closely and decided to count the amount of times our defenders and midfield players misplaced passes directly to the opposition. Would you be surprised to know that, after 3 minutes and 25 seconds, we had surrendered possession three times?

Now, I'm not talking about counting long punts upfield that were successfully contested by the opposition, I'm referring to defenders passing directly to the opposing players inside our own third of the field and thereby causing carnage in the defence.

Man City or Liverpool would have punished us heavily for such benevolence, I can assure you. You can feel the panic at the back when trying to play a tippy-tappy possession game because the players don't have the ability to do it… that is irrespective of opponents moving or pressing or filling in the spaces that you refer to.

It's a simple game, mate, and if you are not able to do the basics, you will get punished in this league. Any team who press high and hard against this shower of shite will recover possession high up the field and eventually score.

That's what Newcastle did, and they're shite and that's what I expect Bielsa's Leeds will do. With no long out-ball to a competent front man to hold up play (not Richarlison's game), we're going to continue to get twatted. We're in the shit, mate.

Bill Rodgers
49 Posted 10/02/2022 at 13:40:40
It is shocking that – after countless years of delusion and disappointment – we all fell for it again, and so easily after the Brentford game.

These players cannot pass the ball 5 yards. They will depart injured at the first opportunity. There is zero team spirit and zero pride.

When they have the ball near their own goal, they freeze, panic and give it back. Sorry but they seem to me to be self-evident facts.

Paul Birmingham
50 Posted 10/02/2022 at 21:20:25
Allen, @47, yep agreed the last game of the season 97/98 at Highbury, on a hot Sunday afternoon and Arsenal at that time were a very good team and done a job on Everton. That was real despair as it went to the last game.

At that time there was more guts and backbone in the Everton team, despite the poor season, and it was a great escape a week later v Coventry at GP.

Let’s focus on the next game and beat Leeds. History saves no one, this is time for Everton to get real and toughen up.

Only Anthony Gordon was consistently up for the battle and he took some stick and gave a bit back, but the rest of the squad were anonymous in that context.

Let’s hope the goal keeper and the whole squad sort out their walls and positions and responsibilities.

Rafina excels v Everton, and Leeds seem to have energy levels that few teams have in the EPL.

But from the ashes of a bad defeat, let’s hope for some serious attitude.


Jamie Crowley
51 Posted 10/02/2022 at 23:08:41
Jeff @ 43 -

Burnley, Watford, Brentford.

Paul Birmingham
52 Posted 10/02/2022 at 00:08:05
Jamie @51, let’s hope, but the teams mentioned turn up for a fight, where as Everton, generally this season decide half way through the first half, on average, if they fancy a fight, on the pitch, in football terms.

Full Metal Jackets needed for Leeds, as Bielsa, will have them oiled and tuned for this game, and it could change the balance, significantly for the run in, to this season end, if Everton don’t get a win or at least a draw.

Bielsa, is no mug.

But to beat Leeds, Everton must be shit sharp, but with no natural fast attacking threat without Demari, Frank will need to decide who plays, and that’s from yesterday, after the roll call from the Skunks.

This is the game the 12th man(GP crowd) will be there, but the players must make winning this game a passion.

The stakes are too high, and fekk the crowd who go to our old ground, thinking, believing they are the only team in Liverpool.

Sadly form, facts, results, and etc, don’t help Evertonians, but this season Everton, will do a Lazarus.

Frank knows that’s the minimum, but he has to transcend the squads mindset, from the negativity, of the results this season.

Amazing 12 months to the day, since the 5-4, v Spurs, and days since the 2-0, at our old ground, ( great day).

12 months in our lives, and we are thankful, every day is a good day, but now to, beat Leeds.

Last season, we got the officials bad in this game, this season, to smash Leeds.

“Whats Our Name?”

John Boon
53 Posted 11/02/2022 at 00:48:37
Many posters on different articles have indicated that far too many of our players trot around and seem to stroll after a player who may have beaten them to to the ball. Not nearly enough effort or aggression.

Man City are top of the league because they have very skillful players who use their supreme ability as a team to win most of their games. HOWEVER it is also very obvious that they are also tenacious and are constantly snapping around the feet of the opposition. We may not be capable of competing with them in regards to skill but there is no reason on earth that Everton should not be equal in graft, energy and fitness. We have too many strollers who often just don't seem to really care.

Gerry Killen
54 Posted 11/02/2022 at 05:43:38
Paul Kernot 32, spot on, mate, surely our Club can ask from the VAR higher- ups to have a review of that tackle, it was MEANT to seriously injure Anthony Gordon, cant they review and punish retrospectively ? and was he encouraged by the coach to nail our best player ? This is not sour grapes cos we lost, its much more serious than that, good on you Anthony Gordon, COYB
Conor McCourt
55 Posted 11/02/2022 at 08:05:06
Personally I think Frank has got off lightly in the aftermath of the other night. For me we lost that game because of Lampard's poor in game management, an area which I think has been a major weakness of Frank despite him appearing very intelligent and articulate.

I remember watching the play off final he lost and thinking he had no answers that day while Arteta completely out thought him in the FA Cup final and it seemed with every substitution and tactical tweak Arsenal got better while conversely Chelsea got worse.

What stood out for me against Brentford was that our success was built on the two midfielders getting so much support from Gordon and especially Grey in preventing us getting overrun and helping us boss that area. Without Mykolenko I understand why he went with the same system but it was almost like he had forgotten why it had worked so well.

Howe seemed to know how we would set up and executed his master plan perfectly with Gomes and Alan getting pressed from the outset. Allan was detailed with helping out Seamus deal with St Maximan and Gomes was often left with two midfielders biting away at him. The three at the back were allowed time on the ball but ready to set traps as soon as soon as it was played into the midfield resulting in their first goal.

Personally I thought Allan wasn't as bad as many made out and I thought he stuck to his thankless task manfully though Gomes had a shocker especially with his distribution as he buckled under Newcastle's aggression and pressure.

We had just weathered the early storm and began playing our football when bizaarrely Lampard brings on Ali to replace Grey. Our midfield was crying out for De Beek as Allan was having to operate almost as a right midfielder in a three rather than in a two and Gomes was almost virtually our only central midfielder. Ali was clearly not match fit, offered no attacking threat but most importantly had little energy or dynamism to track back and help our floundering midfield.

This was the turning point in the game and a substitution I couldn't fathom as Frank had already intimidated in the build up that Dele was match short and not what was required at that moment regardless. We needed to compete better to give us a foothold to play our football but this only served to give them more control, alienate our midfield and offer less threat on the counter. It meant all facets of our game (defence,midfield,attack) were unable to function properly.

Our players, injuries and refereeing didn't help us on the day but I felt the biggest factor in the result was that one manager got his tactics and game plan spot on while the other was found wanting.

Peter Carpenter
56 Posted 11/02/2022 at 13:35:46
The most comforting thing about this report is the last sentence; 45% of the season still to be played.

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