FRESH FACES: EVERTON'S NEW COACHING TEAM AND PLAYERS CAN TURN THE TIDE AT GOODISON
Everton fans haven’t had much to celebrate over the years which hasn’t been helped by the revolving door of managers ever since the departure of David Moyes. The club has struggled with a loss of identity and change of direction, often aspiring to be challenging the top six but in reality, they are fighting to be in the top half of the league.
This season has been one of particular difficulty and it started with controversy before a ball had even been kicked. The appointment of Rafa Benitez immediately divided the fanbase into those who thought he deserved a chance and those who resented him for his Liverpool affiliations.
Rafa had a tough and arduous summer of recruitment as the club’s hands were tied behind their backs due to the restrictions of financial fair play. This had come as a result of Everton spending big every window whilst seeing little income, since the arrival of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri. Whilst Moshiri had delivered on the financial side of things, fans have since been frustrated with his ever-increasing influence on the club’s aims.
Benitez actually had a good start to life at Goodison with a 3-1 win against Southampton. His game plan was clear with the signings of Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend providing width as traditional wingers with the aim to feed Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison with crosses.
Fast forward to now and Everton have won just once in the league since the end of September. As a result of this abysmal form, Benitez was sacked and it is unlikely that any fans will miss the Spaniard. His poor tactics, strange team choices, and overall stubbornness didn’t help the Everton loyal look past his connections to their neighbours over Stanley Park.
So where were the blues left near the end of the January transfer window? New signings in the form of Vitalli Mykolenko and Nathan Patterson had come in under the management of Benitez to fix our full-back problem.
However, fans were bemused at the decision to sell Lucas Digne just a week before sacking Rafa. Whilst the French international hadn’t been performing to his best for the last couple of months, he was still a fan favourite and one of Everton’s best players in terms of quality and technical ability. His quarrels with the manager led to him being dropped and eventually sold to rivals Aston Villa. When he faced his former club, the left-back got the assist for the winning goal which seemed rather poetic and simply ‘Everton’.
During this time, the board had been making decisions that could well impact the future of Everton football club for years to come. Former legend Tim Cahill as well as others were brought in to deliver a strategic review of the club’s aim and the direction it was going in. Bringing in an external individual who had a devotion for the team was a smart decision as it would allow Tim to advise on what is best for Everton whilst not being blinded by the business side of the football.
The next decision to make was the big one, the manager. There were three candidates who were mentioned with all three having wildly different managerial experience. The first is Duncan Ferguson, a hero at the club who has been an everpresent on the coaching staff and who had previously injected a sense of fight during a short interim role. The second was Vitor Pereira who was reletavily unknown but whose material statistics didn’t impress. Despite this this seemed to be Moshiri’s favourite to the dismay of supporters.
The third and favourite was Frank Lampard. Whilst he still has a lot to learn about being manager, the former Chelsea midfielder had shown promise in the role during his tenure at Derby and Chelsea where he had promoted youth and brought in an expansive style of football.
The deadline day just gone was one of the most important in recent years. Lampard was appointed and with him came a team of experienced coaching staff who would help advise Frank in areas where he’d need support. This team consisted of Chris Jones, Duncan Ferguson, Joe Edwards, Paul Clement, Alan Kelly and Ashley Cole.
Not only did Everton have a new manager but his arrival saw two new signings come with him in the form of Dele Alli from Tottenham Hotspur and Donny Van de Beek from Manchester United. The former arrived on a deal worth £10 million after he plays 20 games with bonuses that could reach up to £35 million.
To many, with Dele Alli not being able to recapture his early Spurs form in recent seasons, this may seem like yet another typical Everton transfer of a player not good enough for a top six team. However this deal could prove to be a shrewd one. If Frank Lampard can be that supportive relatable manager that Alli needs and recover even a slither of the production we saw from 2015-17, then it would all be worth it.
Looking at the other signing, Donny Van de Beek hasn’t quite lived up to his expectations since arriving at Old Trafford. The Dutch international has hardly featured in his two seasons at the Red Devils but it’s hard to see why as when he has played, his quality has been on show. That is why this loan move to Everton could get his career back on track. He will be hungry to play and his ability to link up defence and attack whilst also arriving late in the box will be vital for the Toffees during the time we have him.
To conclude, Everton have had a simply awful season so far seeing them sit in 16th in the table and well and truly in a relegation fight. But the actions taken by the club over that last week have provided a glimmer of hope not only for the rest of the season but for longer term ambitions. Will Frank Lampard and a new look Everton be a success or will we be looking at yet another failed ‘project?