Featured image courtesy of James Gill - Danehouse via Getty Images
It is not often that Frank Lampard has cut a forlorn figure during his playing career, but it is quickly becoming a pattern in his stint as a manager. As the rain teemed down at Turf Moor on Wednesday night, Lampard stood contemplating his side’s fourth loss in five games.
His Everton team lost a crucial relegation six pointer 3-2 against fellow strugglers Burnley, after leading 2-1 courtesy of two Richarlison penalties. The result leaves them just one point and one place above the relegation zone with nine games remaining this season.
Lampard’s opposite number, Sean Dyche, had some damning words about Everton after the game. He said: “It’s hard to explain but sometimes you can of sense that a team might have lost how to win a game. I said to them at half-time ‘I’m not sure these lot know how to win a game lads’, away from home particularly.”
This assessment from an opposition manager, is a sad indictment on how Everton have performed this season. It also comes two weeks after Lampard himself questioned the testicular fortitude of his own players, after Everton’s FA Cup humbling at Crystal Palace. He said: “You’re playing at the cut-throat end of football; this is the FA Cup quarterfinals. If you haven’t got the confidence to play, you can flip it and say: ‘Have you got the bollocks to play?’ Apologies but that’s the football term.”
It isn’t the first time that Lampard has questioned his players’ attitude when in a rough patch. Just before he was relieved of his duties at Chelsea, he claimed the players themselves had to take responsibility for a poor performance and that ‘the message was clear’, absolving himself of any of the blame.
The appointment of the 43-year-old by the Toffees was initially a strange one, when he was hired in January. He hadn’t had much experience in management beforehand; unable to get promoted with Derby, who had a squad full of young talent, and then moving on to Chelsea, where he had a decent start at his boyhood club, before winning only two of eight league games and being replaced by Thomas Tuchel after only 18 months in charge.
There is no doubt it was his profile as a world-class player, rather than his abilities as a manager, that Everton concluded he might be the right man for the job. Particularly when you consider that Tuchel won the Champions League less than six months later with the same group of players that Lampard had led to ninth in the table before he departed.
Despite his previous stints in charge, it may have been the idea that a huge figure within the game, such as Lampard, could motivate the Everton players to pull themselves out of this scrap. However, given his history of blaming his own players for failings and how his teams have always conceded a huge number of goals, particularly on the counter and from set pieces, it does seem that Lampard may not have the same abilities as manager as he had as a player.
It remains to be seen whether Everton do indeed stay up, but one thing that is not in doubt, is that the appointment of Lampard simply has not worked. Regardless of what happens, one wonders whether this might be it for Lampard’s managerial career, and if he is hired again after this, what exactly could he bring to the table that he hasn’t already?