As if the Premier League season wasn’t crazy enough each year anyway, a winter World Cup of sorts, along with the passing of the Queen of the United Kingdom, have each inserted further wrinkles into the action. For Everton, coming off of a hard-fought draw against Liverpool in the most recent Merseyside Derby, the team looks to be catching its stride after a difficult start to the campaign between fitness and depth concerns.
And so when Frank Lampard took to the table to answer some questions at his most recent press conference yesterday, it included a few notable thoughts and updates on not only the injuries that have blighted the club in the month-plus since play resumed, but on new players, momentum, West Ham United, the Premier League’s short period off, and much more.
The recent injury to Jordan Pickford - “...a really big loss” - has gotten everyone around the club down since that news broke, of course. Yet while the boss acknowledged how good the England number one is, Asmir Begovic has the full confidence of Frank Lampard too.
“We’re fortunate to have a very strong number two in Begovic at the club who trains brilliantly, performs brilliantly - and is a number one for me in terms of his performance levels anyway so that’s a plus.
As the discussion turned to the fitness of some of the players that have recently come to the club, it inevitably turned to thoughts on the timetable behind the return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Neal Maupay’s name too was brought up, with reporters interested in Frank Lampard’s thoughts about his team debut against the Reds two weeks ago; the boss credited the Frenchman for his box-to-box play, amongst other things, while keeping his cards close to his chest regarding the future of a possible Dominic Calvert-Lewin - Neal Maupay forward partnership.
“...We knew we were in need of a striker and a number nine and a box player; he’s more than just a box player, but he’s certainly proven himself to be a finisher in the Premier League...
With four successive draws continuing a less than desirable start to the season, the team is certainly on to something; while Frank knows the team deserves more points than they’ve collected thus far, there are positives to be taken from the energy that supporters and coaches alike can feel now.
“From where we were and analyzing last season and obviously the joy of staying in the Premier League but then the reality of where do we want to move forward I think you have to start with the base of the team and the core of the team probably, so I think we’ve added there, through the spine of the team. We’ve deserved more points than what we’ve got; I think that feels pretty clear within the camp, but it doesn’t mean anything we just have to sort of look at what’s ahead of us but it’s been a nice feeling so far...”
On the struggles of West Ham United who have had a poor start to the campaign too, Lampard was not buying into their early season struggles either.
“Yea I don’t make too much of that. It’s obviously the start - you look at the table and in those first six to ten games potentially people are jockeying and for different reasons, I’m sure David Moyes would have a lot of answers for those reasons...All I know is that they’ve got a great coach and a very talented team which they’ve shown over the last 18 months; lots of good invidivduals - a dangerous team...I don’t look at their form and see anything other than a strong team that will be a really dangerous opponent.”
Finally, as the presser was winding down, Frank Lampard was asked about Chelsea’s new owner - Todd Boehly - about his comments regarding an American-style “All-Star game,” which has drawn grins and derision since the American owner was reported to have said it.
The boss, however, wasn’t as down on the idea as many others have been, despite that he himself couldn't help but smirk a bit at the same time.
“I don’t - I think practically its very difficult because of our calendar and our schedule here. We play so many games - players are contracted to the team so to go and play a game like that is probably a high risk game in terms of potential injuries to big players, but I don’t quite see the sort of reaction of a smirk and a laugh as if it’s a ridiculous idea; I think we should always look at ideas of bringing our game forward...”