Fresh off the press: Everton – News
Everton are 16th at the time of writing, two points clear of the relegation zone with three games remaining. What did you think of what you saw during the second half of the Toffees campaign?
Like most Evertonians, I just want there to be a happy ending to a truly unforgettable season. For long periods, negativity surrounded the club – whether it was the unpopular appointment of Rafael Benitez, the lack of common thinking within the hierarchy, recruitment or the disconnect with supporters – but Frank Lampard brought back a much-needed unit. I was at the reverse game at the Community Stadium in Brentford, and it really felt like the day Benitez lost all the support he could have garnered after his encouraging start. The fans turned on the players and the manager after that terrible performance in a 1-0 defeat in November which really set the tone for a winter of discontent. There remains a lack of quality but what has changed in recent weeks is the mentality, a desire not to let circumstances dictate the future of the club. The players deserve credit for how they turned around a serious situation, but the job isn’t done yet.
How disturbing was it to even have been mentioned in the conversation about relegation over the past few months, given that it’s been over 70 years since the club last dropped out of the top flight?
It was certainly a traumatic time after Everton, let me assure you! Especially after Burnley’s defeat not so long ago which sparked their revival. When they moved up five points after the victory at Watford, you feared the game was over. That was not too long ago so things can still change very quickly, but it looks like Everton are peaking at the right time. Aston Villa’s defeat may have stunned Burnley while Leeds appear to have self-destructed. Both now have key personnel injuries so Everton are certainly in a strong position.
After last Sunday’s win at Leicester, you tweeted that Jordan Pickford was keeping Everton in the Premier League. What was the importance of a figure in this fight against the fall?
He was superb. There have been those in the media who have criticized his focus levels, his temper and even his time-consuming antics in the past, but Pickford has always enjoyed proving his doubters wrong. I spoke with him not too long ago, and having become a father and brought in a sports psychologist, we are now seeing a leader emerge in an Everton group who sometimes retreated into their shell during matches, especially if he concedes the first goal. Lampard has often had to make forced changes to his defense but whoever he chooses at the back knows he has a top-class goalkeeper behind him who can get his teammates out of trouble. Two clean sheets in the last three games is encouraging and without those saves against Chelsea and Leicester, Everton would be in a much worse position.
Which player should Brentford fans watch on Sunday?
Richarlison – it has to be. His finishing and ability to drive opponents puts him in a different category than anyone else on the team. He is so vital to Everton’s attack and really came into his own in recent home wins over Man Utd and Chelsea. He’s been a little ineffectual at Leicester and Watford in his last few outings, but I suspect Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s gradual return to fitness could free him from the target man position so he can really play with it. its advantages.
How is Frank Lampard likely to settle at Goodison Park?
As I just hinted, I think now may be the time for Lampard to move away from the cautious 3-4-3 approach seen in the recent comeback. He was again used in the stalemate against Watford but Everton failed to create many chances against a side happy to sit out. This left fans frustrated as it was a missed opportunity. Lampard has referred to a lack of a point, refusing to admit any sense of regret at his approach, but I think he will now find it difficult to resist the temptation to go more attacking by deploying an additional striker with survival close at hand and backed by a partisan home crowd.
Everton avenged the previous league defeat to the Bees with a 4-1 FA Cup win in February. What’s your score prediction for this one?
It seems a very long time ago! You hoped that first victory under Lampard would be the end of Everton’s worries this season, but the problems he inherited will take time to fully resolve. It is outside where the team has often lacked cohesion. Playing a side looking to impress their new manager was always likely to be difficult for Brentford at the time, and now they’re heading back to Goodison to face opponents with a knife to their throats to avoid relegation, so the added motivation should at again to be on the side of Everton. But we’ve seen how Brentford only go from strength to strength as the season goes on, knowing they’re standing. That freedom of play and the pressure on the hosts will make this deal much tighter, but I’m tipping Everton for another narrow 1-0 home win.