Everton’s survival hopes, Frank Lampard’s time in charge and your questions answered.
Everton’s Premier League survival is in jeopardy as the Blues prepare for their final six games of the season.
Frank Lampard’s team is now in the bottom three and two points from safety, however they do have a game in hand on their relegation rivals. Burnley’s recent improvement has seen the Blues drop to 18th place, despite scooping up four points in their last two home games.
Everton’s next match comes against Chelsea at Goodison Park on Sunday, with the Toffees seeking to jump Burnley into 17th place if results go their way. Joe Thomas of the ECHO took part in a live Q+A on Thursday ahead of the weekend, and here’s what was said.
Joe88: Hi Joe. Let’s start with a really simple one. Are Everton staying up?
Joe Thomas: I think they are. The situation is not good and the bookies have effectively made Everton favourites to go down for a reason. But survival is still in Everton’s own hands and while that remains the case I think they will be OK. Everton’s form isn’t actually too bad – their predicament comes as a result of Burnley picking up so dramatically, which hopefully will not last. I’m optimistic about Chelsea and Leicester.
Chelsea have struggled against sides who have needed results against them recently (conceding four against Brentford and Arsenal and labouring against West Ham) and they play tonight so have a shorter rest period. Leicester outplayed Everton last week but there is no excuse for not being wise to their strengths next week.
They play Everton after their Europa Conference League semi-final second leg – so will likely be on a high and looking toward the final or on a low after their season has essentially come to an end. Positive results from those fixtures would provide momentum going into that crucial run of what, on paper, are easier games.
Fibonacci: Hey Joe, every time Dele comes on he makes something happen but gets booked and doesn’t have the fitness to track back. Is it worth taking a gamble and playing him as a number 10 or so we have to hope he will make a great start next season if we stay up? I watched his celebration v United and he was buzzing, so he’s obviously into us but I just can’t quite figure out what’s missing.
Joe Thomas: I think it might be a bit too much to start him, particularly as I think Iwobi has done so well in that position in recent weeks. But his cameos are proving useful – as well as setting up the goal v Leicester he created a good chance at Anfield on Sunday when Robertson just got in ahead of Iwobi. I’d carry on doing what Lampard is doing with him..
I think Alli needs time to continue his progress and it’s a shame Everton aren’t in a more comfortable position because, if they were, I think he would be getting more time under less pressure. It feels like the Alli deal has real potential if Everton can stay up and then have a full pre-season with him.
RealityMan77: Top o the morning Joe – if we go down, do you think Frank will stay or will Moshiri fire him? I read somewhere we have a get out clause in his contract after this season so what’s your inside info?
Joe Thomas: Let’s be honest, the decision-making process has not been particularly clear at Everton since Moshiri took over. He is capable of dramatic decisions and the club will be in crisis in the case of relegation.
If Everton are relegated I hope the decision over Lampard’s future is based on a long term vision for how the club gets back into the Premier League rather than a reaction to the drop – Lampard would have to take some responsibility but ultimately this is a mess he has inherited. He should at least be considered as an option to lead Everton’s attempt to return rather than just be sacked automatically because of a situation he would not have created.
Fibonacci: With Richy, Gray, Gordon and Iwobi aren’t we playing 4 wingers and just hoping it somehow works out/comes off?
Joe Thomas: I think Iwobi is a natural attacking midfielder and that is why his performances have improved so much since he was moved there. I like Richarlison out wide rather than up top. It’s hard to facilitate that without DCL but it’s why I think consideration should be given to Rondon starting. I’m not going to argue he is the answer to all of Everton’s problems, but I think he might be the best way to get the most out of the other attacking players, Richarlison included. DCL coming back would also allow for that.
Dello: When did it all start to go wrong? I think it was Koeman’s second summer – selling Lukaku, buying Klaasen, and falling out with Barkley. We need to get rid of that cycle of players and build around younger, less entitled lads like Gordon, Patterson, Branthwaite Mykalenko – even if it’s in the Championship.
Joe Thomas: I think Everton do have a fair bit going in their favour if they stay up. They have had a lot of bad luck this season, particularly with injuries, and they have the foundation of a young, promising and more sustainable squad with some of those players you mention. We don’t know much about the strategic review underway but the early signs appear to be positive. In order to realise the club’s potential they need to stay up though.
You look at that cycle of different managers and identities and you quickly see how a lack of strategy, forward planning and patience quickly undermined the club and made it harder and harder for each new manager as he inherited a collection of different styles and ideas. Maybe things started going wrong right at the beginning of Moshiri’s reign – not necessarily because of him.
But perhaps there was a complacency in looking at the 2015/16 table and thinking: we should be looking to emulate Leicester who won the league, rather than looking at Aston Villa and Newcastle being relegated and realising big Premier League sides are vulnerable. Any new-found wealth may have been better spent with a view to safeguarding Everton against suffering their fate. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but strengthening the foundations was always the most effective way to build towards success, rather than thinking Everton could throw money at players without a long term view over where that would lead them.
Fibonacci: Hey Joe, do you think we were too complacent after January even though we sacked Benitez? Do you think we didn’t realise we were in a dog fight even then? And surely a goalscorer and central defender were the main requirements and not 2 (barely played) midfielders.
Joe Thomas: Quite possibly. I don’t think there was a realisation of the danger Everton were in at the time – or if there was there was perhaps too much of an expectation that ‘things would be alright’. The DvdB and Alli signings I understand – particularly in the context of Lampard having such little time left in the transfer window when he joined.
The big question from January remains what on earth happened between Benitez and Digne and how did both end up going? It seems crazy such a big player was allowed to depart by a manager just days from dismissal.
MPBEFC: Morning Joe. If we go down, what are the financial implications relating to the clubs overall stability?
Joe Thomas: Hey, thanks for reading. The financial implications would no doubt be huge. It would have to lead to some big decisions – certainly around the playing squad but also around the wider operation. It would not have to be a fatal blow. As concerning as the recent accounts were, work to improve the situation is well underway and the contracts of several players on big wages come to an end in the summer. But relegation would leave the club having to carefully review its situation. The club has said the Bramley-Moore plans would not be shelved in the case of relegation, however.
Fibonacci: Do you think DCL is feigning injury and preserving himself because a deal has been agreed for him to go to Arsenal, and while you’re here, d’ya want to pick a team to worry Chelsea on Sunday?
Joe Thomas: I don’t think DCL is feigning injury. I think his season has been as frustrating for him as it has for everyone else. As of the international break, when the rumours around Arsenal reared, Arsenal had not submitted any formal interest. I think he must have some awareness that his fate, whatever it will be, is bound up in Everton’s. If he is open to leaving he needs to be on the pitch playing and scoring to attract interest – especially after being out for so long. He must surely have an eye on the World Cup later this year too. This summer will be crucial for England’s preparations and, if he wants to be part of them, he needs to be on that pitch.
His future does not exist in a vacuum. There are questions about whether Arsenal will be in the Champions League next year, whether Everton will be in the Premier League, whether he could get into the World Cup squad etc. I don’t see how any of his ambitions – whatever they may be – are best served with him not playing. If Arsenal is a serious prospect for him then that is particularly true with Eddie Nketiah’s recent form. DCL needs to be playing and I expect he wants to be on that pitch helping Everton.
Source: Liverpool Echo