It’s safe to say the Frank Lampard at Everton experiment is going very, very poorly.
Everton slumped to another loss under Lampard, this one against the one of only three teams beneath it on the table, as a 2-1 halftime lead produced through soft penalties devolved to a 3-2 loss to Burnley at Turf Moor that leaves the Toffees just one point clear of the bottom three.
[ MORE: Burnley wins thriller over Everton ]
At least the match was entertaining, though the postgame reckoning is anything but encouraging for Toffees fans.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s assertion is that the Toffees just need to score more goals — they nabbed enough to win most games — while manager Frank Lampard insists that all pressure is the same when asked whether it’s different to be in a relegation fight as opposed to a top-four battle.
Jordan Pickford on what Everton needs to do to survive
“We had plenty of chances going forward,” Pickford said. “We could probably be a bit more clinical. We need to defend better as a full unit. It’s about character now, team spirit, mentality as a unit. We’ve got a quick turnaround now. It was always gonna be hard but the main thing is Saturday now. Very disappointing tonight but we’ve gotta keep going. We’ve got nine games left and we’ve gotta keep going and keep going and try to get results.”
“We dealt with it so well and they scored two very similar goals, cut backs. Collectively we need to be harder to beat. We can’t put blame on an individual. We need to get more goals. Richy did well but we need more from the rest of the lads. We need to be able to see it out.”
“It’s all about character now, team spirit, game-by-game, be a tough team to play against, and pick up wins.”
Frank Lampard on the task ahead of Everton
“From 2-1 we should win the game by more goals,” Lampard said. “We were not clinical enough on numerous chances with time in their half, and at that point you always leave the game open and then we make mistakes on their goals.
“I’m not sure it matters what it is, the players have to work to through it. We’re in a battle. We know it now. We’re still above Burnley on the table.”
“All the teams around us are in similar positions. You look at the results, and they’re all the same. It’s not that you string a lot of wins together and move up the table, the Premier League doesn’t work that way. If we do make mistakes we have to be ready to fight.”
“It feels the same to me, whether that’s true maybe. It shouldn’t be in football terms but I understand that. We’re not different to Burnley, or Watford, or Leeds, or Norwich. Players don’t need to listen or read or worry about anything other than coming to work tomorrow and getting ready for the weekend. Work, game, fight, get the results.
“The pressure feels the same because it’s always a relative expectation of what everyone on the outside thinks of you, what the fans think of you, and what you think of yourself. The reality comes to winning football matches and tonight we just didn’t do that
“Doesn’t matter who we play. One of our best performances was against Man City and we’re a bad decision away from getting a point out of that game.”
What to make of reaction from Pickford, Lampard
It’s hard to blame Pickford for being frustrated and just spitting our cliches about working harder, especially on a day he made as many saves (one) as goal-conceding gaffes.
But Lampard’s words should be extremely troubling to Evertonians. The ex-Derby County and Chelsea boss has, indeed, never been in a relegation fight and there’s no more telling line than the first one he uttered in his postgame presser.
“From 2-1 we should win the game by more goals.”
Of course we know what this means but Lampard continues to sound — going back to his Chelsea days — like one of those ex-great players who cannot believe players don’t just operate at the same level he did.
In some ways, it’s a bit like Wayne Gretzky’s short coaching career in the NHL. When adversity hits, you can’t just go be better than the rest of the opposition by pure skill. Lampard is one of the best players in Premier League history, but managerially he’s got a long road to average.
If Everton’s got a problem, though, it’s an Everton problem. When Roberto Martinez, Carlo Ancelotti, and Rafa Benitez are deemed “not good enough,” why would Ronald Koeman and Frank Lampard get the job done (That’s a bit unfair to Koeman, too). Manchester United has an issue giving a manager the keys, but Everton’s basically said, “Hold our beer.”Follow @NicholasMendola