Everton put together a performance that Evertonians everywhere could be rightly proud of as they blew away Leeds United in what was effectively a relegation six-pointer at Goodison Park yesterday.
Speaking after the win, new manager Frank Lampard talked to Sky Sports about the unity across his team and with the fans in the stadium.
“It was great, a great afternoon and a great performance, a really great performance against a very strong team. A clean sheet, three goals, and an important win for us. I loved the performance, the atmosphere was very joined up here, the fans were behind the players from the start and it showed in the attitude and the work ethic which these fans demand, and rightly so.
“It was a really good afternoon.”
Pressing the visitors up high was clearly the gameplan, and Lampard confirmed that.
“That’s how I want my team to play and that’s also what the fans demand, and we have the capability to do that. You want to press and get close and make it difficult for a team like Leeds who are very very good on the ball, you have to close distances and sprint, and you have to repetitively keep doing that. That’s what makes me so proud, more than anything the team did today, was the effort they put in.”
What were his comments on the opening goalscorer, club captain Seamus Coleman?
“A warrior, and a symbol of the football club. I heard a lot about Seamus on my way in here, about what a man he is, what a captain, what a leader, a great fella just as a person, and he’s shown that from day one, shown it all the way through, and now I know why he’s thought of so highly here.
“Let’s not forget the talent. Not just his goal, but the way he defended for me one of the best wingers in the world Jack Harrison. Seamus was spot on in every way, and he loves this club and he’s a symbol for it.”
Everton’s setpieces have been an issue this season, with hardly any goals coming in the attacking end while defensively they have continued to be leaky. However, with assistant Paul Clement now coaching setpieces, the Blues are starting to tighten up in their own end while now scoring four goals as a result of setpieces in just three games, with Michael Keane’s header from a corner making it 2-0 in the first half.
“That’s where collective work comes as a staff, Paul Clement working closely with the players on setpieces. We came in here and it was flagged as a problem as we were conceding too many and not scoring enough.
“In the three games we’ve played we’ve scored - we’ve conceded one - but we’ve scored a few goals and that’s through work, diligence and talent.
“In terms of how we set up, that’s where you rely on the staff and the players. The delivery was great, Keano gets on the end of it.”
Richarlison looked to have capped off a fine all-round performance with a late goal to seal the game, but it ended up getting credited to youngster Anthony Gordon for his deft touch, with the youngster making yet another impressive showing. Lampard laughed when he was asked who would break it to the Brazilian that the goal didn’t go to him.
“It’s already been broken to him. He’s a bit disappointed, he’s a funny character Richy. He’s really, really popular in the dressing room for his ways, good lad. He doesn’t have loads to say all the time, but what a warrior on the pitch - the mobility, the strength, the quality, he wants to score goals, so he’s a bit disappointed in there!”
Everton’s last clean sheet came back in early November against Tottenham, and Lampard credited the teamwork for this one, calling out the effort of one player in particular.
“I can’t take a player out of that performance and criticize anything. We’ll go back over it and keep trying to improve. In terms of today, I look at people like Alex Iwobi who comes in and hasn’t played much recently, certainly hasn’t played for me yet.
“He comes into the game because he’s trained brilliantly, and I said to him today before the game how much I believe in him and that he’s special, and he was a machine today. A machine from minute one until the end, not just his quality on the ball but his work ethic for the team.
“And that goes for every man in there today and that’s what got us this result.”
An outstanding feature of this game though was the fans showing up with their flags, banners and voices as one. They truly made an effort to make this a horrible place for the opposition to play in, and it worked as opposing forward Daniel James admitted later.
“Two weeks I’ve been here, and you read a lot and hear a lot, but the fans love this club passionately, I realised very quickly. I knew it before but when you’re here you understand it, it’s their life, that’s what it means to them.
“When that comes in a positive way like it did today, and when they see the players perform, we can come together and do a lot here. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves because our league position is not where we want it to be, but when we do that, we can do a lot.”