Frank Lampard will begin his reign as Everton manager this weekend, having signed a two-and-a-half year contract to take charge at Goodison Park.
The former Chelsea boss returns to the Premier League after a year-absence from the game and will be tasked with turning around the fortunes of an Everton side who struggled during the ill-fated reign of Rafael Benitez.
Ahead of his first game in charge this weekend, we look at five priorities for Lampard at Everton.
Everton’s wretched record in the transfer market has been well documented, with the Toffees having squandered resources the envy of several Premier League rivals on a series of misfits and poor purchases.
Improving the club’s recruitment and developing a clear transfer strategy will be crucial to Lampard’s hopes of making a lasting impression, with the likes of Leicester and West Ham among the sides to have impressed with their arrivals in recent windows.
Lampard will possess some pulling power when it comes to new additions – as Aston Villa have benefitted from with the arrival of Steven Gerrard – but will need to be shrewd as he seeks signings capable of bridging the gap between Everton and the Premier League’s top sides.
— Everton (@Everton) February 1, 2022
Everton moved late to bring in Donny van de Beek and Dele Alli in the closing stages of the January window, boosting the Toffees option in midfield across the remainder of the season.
Each arrive with a point to prove and represent somewhat of a gamble, but the potential upside could be significant for two talented midfielders who have stagnated in recent seasons.
Fix the club’s defence
Just four points currently separate Everton from the Premier League’s relegation places, a concerning situation despite the optimism that has greeted Lampard’s arrival.
The club’s struggles have largely been down to a leaky defence, with Benitez’s pragmatism having failed to eradicate the vulnerability in the side.
Everton have kept just three clean sheets this season and have remarkably found themselves behind at half-time on a huge 11 occasions, statistics that must improve if the Toffees are to pull clear of danger.
Set-pieces have also been a major problem for Everton with only two teams having conceded more goals from corner kicks and it will take time on the training ground under a new coaching team to fix their faults.
Bring the best from DCL
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s absence has been a major part of Everton’s struggles, the club’s leading goal threat having missed the majority of the campaign through injury.
The 24-year-old scored 21 goals in all competitions last season and began the current campaign in fine form, but was struck down with fitness issues in August and has only recently returned to the side.
Everton have lacked a focal point in his absence with Salomon Rondon having struggled since his free transfer arrival, whilst Richarlison offers a different profile in attack and has often worked better alongside a more traditional centre-forward partner.
Calvert-Lewin’s aerial ability can be a major bonus at both ends of the pitch for Everton this season, with his eight headed goals scored since the start of last season a Premier League leading total.
He will want to regain his form and finishing touch across the season’s run-in as he bids to reestablish himself in Gareth Southgate’s plans ahead of the World Cup in November.
Win the fans over
Lampard’s popularity at Everton has already began with the boost of not being Rafael Benitez, the hugely unpopular and controversial appointment of the former Liverpool boss having failed spectacularly.
Benitez faced a fight to win over the fans from the offset, before a combination of poor results and a negative brand of football made his position untenable.
Everton fans protest the board tonight at Goodison Park pic.twitter.com/cB3tvrcI15
— Toffee TV (@ToffeeTVEFC) January 26, 2022
Lampard should offer Everton a more attractive manner of playing and that will appeal to the club’s fanbase, who want a side they can associate with and demand both fight and intensity.
Benitez’s exit has not smoothed out the toxicity that has surrounded Goodison Park of late, however, with anger and unrest also directed at owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright.
Protests against the board have come from a frustration with the club’s direction and continued failures. Lampard’s first task should be providing a semblance of positivity to their project.
Perhaps Lampard’s greatest achievement at Chelsea was his integration of youth, handing opportunities to the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James after several predecessors failed to bridge the gap between a flourishing academy and the first team.
Chelsea’s transfer ban at the time of his arrival contributed to decisions, but it was nonetheless a show of faith in emerging talent and a situation Everton will hope can be replicated during his tenure.
Anthony Gordon has shown encouraging signs this season after breaking into the senior side, whilst there are high hopes for names such as Jarrad Branthwaite, Tyler Onyango and January signing Nathan Patterson.
Providing a clear link between the system and senior side will be key and could save Everton the fortunes they have wasted in recent windows.
There are few things fans appreciate more than an academy talent in the first team and a show in faith towards Everton’s best prospects could lead to increased patience for the project.