Our review of the just-ended Everton season starts with a report card for former boss Frank Lampard
While Frank Lampard did not begin the past season as the manager of Everton, by the end of that very challenging campaign, he seemed to have grown into a figure who was quite appreciated around Merseyside. That was a massive change from how things were between the supporters and the man he replaced - Rafa Benitez.
That paragraph above only needed slight revisions from what I wrote about a year ago at around this time, but it did require revision all the same. Frank Lampard did accomplish his mission last year - keeping Everton in the Premier League despite a horrid season - but this campaign, he neither did much winning on Merseyside nor back at Stamford Bridge either.
When he was sacked in January and room made for Sean Dyche, the team seemed as lifeless as it did in the matches before he first took over for Rafa Benitez, and had a worse record than at the point he replaced his predecessor previously as well.
He was given a bit of time off thanks to this sacking, and while he would pop up at Chelsea after some time away with his family, his managerial form would not improve at his old club any more than it had over time with the Toffees despite being handed a near-billion dollar squad.
Everton finished 16th in the Premier League in the 2021-22 season, and only narrowly escaped relegation after a dramatic win in the second-to-last match of the campaign. Frank Lampard had the side headed in that same direction before his sacking in late January, and they say in 19th place at that point in time.
While the offense continued to struggle this season with injuries across the board and a thinner depth than even in the season prior, Frank Lampard seemed unable to convince his players that they could produce as they were going to have to in order to save themselves. That they found the points and organization under Sean Dyche makes it clear that they, indeed, needed a change of boss, and that their new one was better than their older one, just as he had been better than his predecessor, who had been far worse than his own - Don Carlo Ancelotti.
The Toffees looked as pathetic with Frank Lampard as Chelsea would look with Frank Lampard; the only consolation must be that that blue London side paid far more than the Merseyside Blues for a similar result.
No matter the formation - and there were many - there was no creativity, no expression, no idea, and no volition to the team anymore. Perhaps it was all spent to overcome the 2-0 Crystal Palace deficit from the end of the season prior, but the side was unable to keep it together for very long once the 2022-23 campaign began - even with new players.
The Evertonian defence overperformed to historic proportions during those early weeks, with Connor Coady earning himself a call-up to the English National Team as a part of it, but it was - as the Spanish say - nothing more than an engaño. It was covering for the absolutely horrific offense which would soon be exposed once the Toffees backline became too strained and pressured to maintain the remarkable form it had previously kept.
Once this happened, Frank Lampard looked helpless no matter if he had three in the back, four in the back, two up front, three up front, or simply one. Dwight McNeil and Abdoulaye Doucoure - two of Everton’s most important players at the close of this season - could not find themselves either good form or even playing time for the latter.
Perhaps, in the final analysis, Frank only stayed around longer thanks to the winter World Cup, and that delayed decision almost cost Everton relegation.
Having failed at nearly every stop of his journey as a boss so far, it might be worth considering for Frank Lampard whether he shouldn’t take some time, reassess his tactics and communication skills, and then get back to the grind.
Things appeared to be going in a reasonably positive way when he was at Derby - although he couldn’t get the side promoted, to be fair. During his first stint at Chelsea, he was ever so close to winning a trophy, but getting sacked by the club he led to glory as a player has seemingly diminished the confidence and abilities of the man.
His greatest Everton achievement was energizing the side after taking over for Rafa Benitez; for that one shining night on Merseyside, singing with the entire Goodison Park. Yet he could not grow that passion or idea further, and left Everton in what appeared a worse place than where he found them.
Wherever his future lies, it hardly seems likely that it will be in London or Merseyside unless he has a residence in either location. He’s got a future, but like Everton, he’ll have to work damn hard despite the history that accompanies the name.
To quote this self-same author from last season’s manager report card of Frank Lampard, “Lampard did what he was hired to do, which was save the club from almost certain relegation. The football his side played to do that was, at times, a throwback to the 90s, and that would not have impressed anyone...”
I went on to compliment him for the job well done, noted that the board and Kevin Thelwell were backing him, and gave him a B mark for the run that left us safe to struggle throughout this recently-finished campaign.
With what ended up transpiring over his tenure after that was written, the first part of my final review could be said to have been quite correct. The football was not pretty, but he saved the side, and that was all that mattered.
Given more time, however, and no further meaningful innovations were made. Worse yet, the rest of the Premier League figured out how to bash the Toffees around, and it took all of Sean Dyche’s own ingenuity to turn back to tides of relegation fate for at least another year. Frank Lampard gets an F for his half-season, and if his second Chelsea stint were being judged alongside it, he might grade out even lower somehow.