Since calling time on a glittering career as a player with Chelsea, Frank Lampard had two stints as a manager before being appointed as the sixth permanent manager at Everton in as many years in January 2022.
He first took charge at Derby County in 2018 where he took the Rams to the brink of the Premier League but lost in the play-off final to Aston Villa. He then made a hero's return to Chelsea whom he guided to a 4th-place finish and an FA Cup Final in the 2019-20 season.
However, things turned somewhat sour in his second season and a 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park in the pandemic-affected 2020-21 season began a sequence of five defeats in eight matches which prompted Roman Abramovich to dismiss the then 42-year-old and hire Thomas Tuchel instead.
Lampard was out of work for just over a year but according to those close to him, he was keen to get back into management and had used the time off to reflect on his two previous roles while expanding his coaching knowledge.
He eventually topped a list of five candidates to replace Rafael Benitez as Everton boss after the Spaniard, who had been appointed following Carlo Ancelotti's abrupt departure in June 2021, was sacked following an awful run of results and joined with the distinction of having played under both of his two immediate predecessors.
Lampard assumed responsibility for an Everton team that had won just one Premier League match in 14 games and had plummeted from the European qualification places in September to 16th to sit just four points above the relegation zone with 18 games left.
Injury problems for key players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina and Abdoulaye Doucoure, battered morale, and restrictions on the amount of money available for last-minute transfers on the day he was a appointed meant that he faced a significant challenge to keep Everton in the Premier League over the second half of the 2021-22 season.
As a breath of fresh air following Benitez's dour, unadventurous tenure, Lampard made an optimistic start, hammering Brentford 4-1 in an FA Cup tie in his debut match as boss but the Blues' cripplingly weak away form ensured that they would remain mired in the relegation dog fight until the final week of the campaign.
Harnessing the power of Goodison Park and Everton's unmatched supporters, who would do as much to keep the club in the top flight as anyone with raucous welcomes for the players' coach at home games and thunderous atmospheres inside the Grand Old Lady, Lampard oversaw crucial victories over Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester United and Chelsea down the stretch before the decisive penultimate game against Crystal Palace.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Lampard made the piviotal decision to bring on deadline-day signing Dele Alli and the former Tottenham star helped drive the Toffees on to a thrilling 3-2 victory, secured by Calvert-Lewin's diving header five minutes from time.
Though the club and fanbase were united behind the notion of "never again", Lampard struggled badly in 2022-23, not helped by the sale of Richarlison to Tottenham, Calvert-Lewin succumbing to another serious injury just days before the season kicked off, and the club's failure to land a striker of any description until transfer deadline day, by which time five Premier League games had passed without Everton winning any of them.
That the man they did bring in to provide cover for Calvert-Lewin and effectively replace Richarlison was the wholly unsuited Neal Maupay from Brighton only made Lampard's challenge harder.
Things appeared to come together in October 2022 when the Blues dismantled Palace with a slick display at Goodison Park but it proved to be a mirage. A home defeat to struggling Leicester and back-to-back defeats at relegation favourites Bournemouth in the League and Cup heading into the mid-season hiatus to accomodate the World Cup, had the alarm bells ringing among supporters.
Despite having had six weeks to focus and prepare for the resumption of the Premier League campaign, Everton looked just as bad coming out of the international break, losing at home to bottom side Wolves and then getting thrashed on their own turf by Brighton in the first game of 2023, that despite a hugely creditable draw at Manchester City on New Year's Eve.
As mounting angst at owner Farhad Moshiri and the Board thrust the club into crisis off the pitch, things continued to worsen on it as Lampard's charges lost another home game, this time to the new bottom club Southampton and were defeated in a further "six-pointer" at West Ham.
He was finally sacked mon 23 January, 2023, almost two years to the day after he was fired from the Chelsea job, as Everton bowed to the inevitable and faced up to a desperate battle ahead to avoid the drop.
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* Everton deducted 10 points for PSR breachView full table