Frank Lampard is my age so I have always kept a keen interest in his career. As a player, I never regarded him to have the same natural talent as Steven Gerrard and Frank himself once remarked that the best player of his generation when he was younger was – a player much maligned on these pages – Leon Osman.

Yet he did ever so well in his career, winning league titles and cups while becoming an England regular. Not only did he come from good footballing stock thanks to his father and uncle, he was well-educated and, therefore, a good communicator.

But Frank knew the value of hard work. Early in his career at West Ham United, he got the unfair moniker that was “Fat Frank”. Frank took to the running track and would stay behind in training to practice shooting and set-pieces. These things benefited him as he became a Premier League midfielder scoring more than most strikers, season-in & season-out, for the best part of a decade.

It is fair to say that Frank got to where he was because he worked hard and, despite his background, took nothing for granted.

He did an okay job in his first coaching role at Derby County, a club that has long been criticised for being poorly run. He then went on to Chelsea, where strangely the owner was overwhelmed by sentiment in recruiting probably the most inexperienced coach he had done before the aforementioned sentimentality wore off and Frank was gone after 18 months.

A year on and Everton, having made the gloomily predictable decision to hire Rafa Benitez and then fire him half-way through the season, had very few options on the coaching front. This was completely the fault of the board as far as I can see. Benitez was not only a controversial hire but a poor one. The board created their own problem by selecting him as they were inevitably going to have to replace him mid-season with less options. Why?

Because Benitez was no longer a coach with a brand of football that would garner winning runs. Secondly, his past meant the fanbase was always going to turn a lot quicker than they might with other coaches. These two factors meant that his sacking after only a few months was highly likely. Why the board could not see this is beyond me.

Yet that is essentially why we ended up with a relative rookie. An experienced man in the Premier League but, as a coach, still wet behind the ears.

Looking back, the narrative around the club did change in those early weeks under Frank. There was positivity with players like the once so-called Real Madrid bound Dele Alli coming in. Frank was so much more polished in the media than his predecessors. The results improved a little and Goodison saw an upsurge in excitement and the feel-good factor.

But the bounce wasn’t as one had maybe hoped so that the decline continued and going down to Brentford in mid-May put us in serious trouble.

Shockingly we collapsed to Crystal Palace in a make-or-break match. This correspondent left his home to pace the streets in despair rather than listen to the humiliation on the radio. Bizarrely, I returned and we were in the process of getting back into the game. Whatever Frank said during half-time must have been special.

Fast forward to the summer and we sign what seemed like sensible acquisitions. There were those who were pragmatic in Tarkowski, Coady and Gueye. New young blood for the future in Onana. Then squad players like McNeil and Maupay.

But with the sale of Richarlison, we hadn’t really replaced his nuisance factor –  much like we didn’t replace the goals when we sold Lukaku. The first full season of Everton under Frank was based on a squad with too many defenders, not enough strikers, and very few playmakers. You see, if you pin your creative hopes on the consistently inconsistent Demarai Gray, you have a major problem.

Frank and his coaches never seemed to get what the solution was as well as they did the Goodison crowd. There was a strange insistence on a back five one week and a back four the next. David Moyes was my main Everton coach simply because he was in charge for over a decade but he tended to play the same four at the back and it served him well. The messing about from Frank, in my view, only served to confuse and subdue the players; hence our awful run of form going into the winter.

Frank is not a stupid man so his insistence on changing the formation was baffling. Playing back fives or three in the midfield essentially meant at times we had eight defensive outfield players. There are some sides who give themselves this solidity, like our neighbours. However, they do so with full-backs who bomb on and a pacey front line that can press and play with freedom because of what is behind them. We had neither so a completely different formation was needed. Yet Frank just continued with these defensive tactics so that we would always struggle to score and, while we could coax the odd decent result, like the draw with Man City, we were mostly going to have to try repelling wave after wave of attacks from opponents.

The man frequently mentioned working hard. As the defeats became more precarious for his job and our position in the league, he referred to working hard to put things right.

Sadly, staying late in training to practice free-kicks, spend more time in the gym or on the track only cut it for personal and individual development. Working harder might have been his mantra but it hasn’t been that of our squad for a long time and there was more needed than sheer graft. Guile and guts were also required and they were in short supply.

Perhaps Frank Lampard was a well-meaning coach who just inherited the wrong set of players. Or maybe he was that guy who naively assumed all players would work as hard as he and his contemporaries did?

Unfortunately, his illustrious playing career, work ethic and great communicating did not a successful Premier League coach make. 

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 26/01/2023 at 07:40:08
If I was Frank Lampard, and having had the playing career I'd had, both in terms of my own ability, what I'd won and who I'd played with as teammates, then I would have stood there baffled at how we have so many brain-dead, can't-do-the-basics footballers.

I wanted Lampard to succeed, he was a clear-talking straight-talking man that knew what was required but sadly his Premier League managerial experience was too limited also to give him the necessary toolkit to deal with this wreckage of a club.

I was against sacking Lampard and, until today, I still don't agree with it even now he's left.

I say that because I don't see any standout candidate that will make this team any better than the 3 wins it's had so far this season. The names we are linked with do absolutely nothing to suggest to me anything will change.

Even if a couple of results improve (let's not forget under Lampard we were 7 unbeaten at one stage in September) this group of players always fall back into old habits.

If players can't listen to Lampard or Ancelotti, who have commanded respect for their achievements, then how will a divisive character like Bielsa, a hard-nosed disciplinarian like Dyche, or another succeed?

Our players don't like hard work, don't like constructive criticism, and player power has long since won over here at this club, that's why they are on easy street and have been for too long.

Mal van Schaick
2 Posted 26/01/2023 at 07:42:43
Working hard, coaching and training obviously didn't have the desired effect for Frank. Yes, there were flashes of good play and good results, but there wasn't enough consistency, particularly this season.

When Richardson left, we replaced him with Maupay who failed to shine, mainly because of a failure to be creative enough to give him goal-scoring opportunities, whereas Richarlison was at the end of half-chances and created his own goals. Calvert-Lewin had his own problems with injury, and even now doesn't look back to his best.

The abject failure by Frank and his coaching staff to coach more creativity for forwards with goal-scoring opportunities is the crux of the matter in my opinion. Watching the ball being pinged around the back four into midfield and back to the back four again, was monotonous. Forward players weren't running off defenders' shoulders into the channels in the final third of the pitch. Having a bunch of headless chickens in midfield doesn't guarantee winning games.

Even now, I don't know what the answer is with this squad of players. Between the board, the manager and the players, they have conspired to bring our club into disrepute, and only some shrewd managing and coaching may give us any chance of staying in the Premier League, but the banding about of ‘Dad's Army” managers and players will not assist that cause.

If I knew the answer, I would be the manager. Good luck.

Darren Hind
3 Posted 26/01/2023 at 07:57:43
Thats a good read, Andrew.

As a player, Frank certainly knew the value of hard work and dedication.

I once watched a clip of Glen Hoddle trying to demonstrate to international players how to take a free-kick. He was at the point of despair. He was showing them and explaining to them how to do it... but they couldn't. This was a man who had played for years and would have come across thousands of players who were not as technically gifted as himself... Why could he not get it?

I sometimes think former players who become managers expect their players to be able to do what came naturally to them. Frank didn't seem to get that our players were not as dedicated to improving their game as he was.

You are right, of course. Hard work alone is never enough, but going forward, we are going to be fucked without it.

David Bromwell
4 Posted 26/01/2023 at 08:16:22
Well, yes, I think we all wanted Frank to succeed: nice fellow, good relationship with the fans etc. But, at the end of the day, he and his backroom team failed and he had to go.

What has happened since is of course the now all-too-familiar fall into chaos and the lack of leadership and sound governance all too apparent.

But at least this morning I am able to read that today Dyche is to be interviewed as a potential replacement. Not of course an exciting potential appointment, but just maybe a sensible one given that more than anybody he has experience of working with a limited squad of players.

Like so many I just want this whole sorry mess to come to some sort of conclusion. Let's us at least have someone in place so that the players can be given instruction and discipline is restored.

Sadly, our fall from grace has been long in the making, we probably haven't yet reached rock bottom, and the whole football world knows that. Dyche looks a decent bloke and if he is prepared to take us on I shall certainly give him my support and will have just a little more confidence when I renew my season ticket. But whatever happens at this present moment, relegation this season looks ever more likely.

Jim Bennings
5 Posted 26/01/2023 at 08:18:16
When is the last time Everton had a hardworking team? When did we ever master the art of high-tempo pressing?

If Frank can be blamed for anything, maybe he needed to be more "Frank" during the summer transfer negotiations.

I'd don't know who signs or recommended players but knowing money was tight and I assume it was conversations mainly with Kevin Thelwell:

Thelwell: "Frank, we've got Maupay and McNeil as possible affordable targets; what do you think?"

Frank: "Kev, I think we need more goals mate than those two bring. Also, Maupay doesn't suit our system, we need a centre-forward, can we have a look at the likes of Guirassy, Brereton Diaz maybe, or something similar to those?"

Thelwell: "No, Frank it's got to be Maupay and McNeil, they tell me; you've spent £35 million on Onana so why did you not put some of that on a centre-forward?"

Somewhere along the line, we have had too many cooks spoiling the broth. Frank could have forced the issue in August and said we need two strikers which we did; we need two now even with Calvert-Lewin "fit".

Why and who sanctioned the McNeil and Maupay deals? Why sign Gana? Even James Garner, was he really worth the money, did we really need him?

Who made the signings last summer? The club should come out and tell us straight.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 26/01/2023 at 08:31:57
For some, playing comes natural and they struggle to coach because they can't understand why players can't do it, so can't explain it. Frank obviously worked very hard to combine his natural ability to get where he got to in the game.

It looks increasingly likely that he ends up in that category of great player, but won't likely make a great coach or manager.

We all wanted him to succeed, even those of us who were not convinced (me included). We all want every Everton manager to succeed.

Your mention of Leon Osman triggered me, especially with the current talk of Anthony Gordon on the other thread. The amount of stick he got used to continuously confuse me. Alongside Arteta, he was our most technically gifted footballer at the time. "Too small, slow and lightweight" was often the call. But he could play football, was committed and weighed in with the odd goal.

If we'd have played him central more often rather than sticking out wide like we did in the 2009 FA Cup Final, we'd have got more out of him. I used to say to my son at the time, if he moved to the continent, he'd have been a star.

One of my fondest memories of him was being sat in the Main Stand, directly in line and watching "little" Leon's salmon-like leap to get the winner at home to Man City having come from behind. Great player and servant to Everton. I wish he would come back.

Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 26/01/2023 at 08:37:47
Nice piece, Andrew, and I would add, like David above, that the backroom staff were very much part of the problem. Dave Clement is a possession-based coach. His time at Swansea was a good example. They were good at it but Tammy Abraham struggled to get his goals for lack of chances.

The emphasis on recycling the ball might work with good technical players in La Liga but the Premier League is played at break-neck speed and our lads can't pass a ball accurately for 5 yards.

I heard from someone at Finch Farm that "It's all about triangles". It can work but you have to be able to trap a ball and pass it and move.

The annoying thing about Lampard was watching him make the same mistakes again and again. His tactics, his subs.

He dabbled with the youngsters, brought back Simms (if it was his decision!) and gave him cameos.

I honestly think that our fans were too kind to him because he had a connection with them and was clearly a very nice guy.

Obviously he could tell us some shit about what went on backstage. He might well have been a saint for staying – a very well-paid saint though.

In years gone by, managers who had tried everything and failed, used to leave by mutual consent. Not anymore.

If he ever gets another job, it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

Paul Tran
8 Posted 26/01/2023 at 09:04:02
Hard work is a prerequisite for success at pretty much everything, but it has to be accompanied with a level of competence, which unfortunately, Frank and his team didn't seem to have enough of.

I remember that clip Darren mentioned, often the most skilful can't coach that well, because they can't explain inate talent, or understand others' lack of it. Watch Roy Keane talk about effort and commitment in that tired, resigned way of his. He can't believe today's players often appear less than engaged.

A good, balanced read, Andrew, in these sad times of bile and clickbait.

Peter Carpenter
9 Posted 26/01/2023 at 09:26:47
Good article. I'm surprised that, once we had got away with it last season, he didn't make more of the job. He even seemed to be hurting himself at times with certain decisions or non-decisions.
Dennis Stevens
10 Posted 26/01/2023 at 13:48:50
I think the only sentiment relating to Lampard's appointment as Chelsea manager was on his part. Where else would they recruit a manager who would not be allowed to spend due to their transfer embargo?
Barry Rathbone
11 Posted 26/01/2023 at 17:29:43
When you look at the historical list of great managers, the ones that have transformed clubs (a very small list indeed), they don't mention hard work as a target – it's just a given.

The special ingredient that lifts such men above their peers is the ability to motivate and inspire and, like most financially strapped clubs, we've been searching for that man for years.

It was always my concern that Frank lacked the gift and in the end, I guess it killed him. At least with Dyche and Bielsa, they look and act like leaders of men, so here's hoping.

Charles Brewer
12 Posted 26/01/2023 at 18:42:53
In engineering circles, there is a maxim relating to desirable properties of materials: "Cheap / Light / Strong - Pick two". Steel is cheap and strong, but heavy; titanium is strong and light, but expensive; aluminium is cheap and light, but not strong.

In football, a similar triad might be: "Hardworking/motivated, talented/intelligent, cheap/available" – the pairs are simply manifestations of one another. As a footballer, Rooney was hardworking and talented, but expensive; as a manager, Frank was hardworking and available – but not talented.

Teams like Manchester City and United and Chelsea (once!) can get the players who are hardworking, talented and expensive because they have money; the RS have a remarkable talent for getting hardworking but less talented players for relatively low costs because they appear to have an excellent scouting team, Brentford, Brighton and maybe even Arsenal have gone with the same approach.

Wolves, West Ham and Leicester – and until recently Dyche's Burnley – seem to have at least managed to get hardworking players on very limited budgets.

Everton appear to have manage to acquire a squad of lazy, unmotivated, talentless but expensive players. All we need now is for Pickford to go and we will have a complete squad of players no-one would choose and who can be relied on to poison anyone new turning up.

Will Mabon
13 Posted 26/01/2023 at 19:35:22
Thanks, Andrew.

I agree that Lampard was ultimately found wanting. However, I feel the fact that he fell short was partly due to the malaise in the club as a whole. This of itself alone might account for 3 or 4 league places, and more long-term.

Short periods aside the majority of managers of recent years have performed somewhat below their general level while at Everton. This with varying squad quality, it sometimes being not quite so poor as all have felt IMO.

No DoF has yet seemed to have any positive influence – or been permitted to.

It's that same old thing, that something in the fabric; the very heart of the club, the culture. Whoever comes in as manager is on a wing and a prayer until that's rooted out.

Will Mabon
14 Posted 26/01/2023 at 19:40:40

Good post, and to the last paragraph, those are effectively the players we seem to have now. Whether they all came or are inherently that way is another matter. Being at the club seems to do it to them.

Barry Hesketh
15 Posted 26/01/2023 at 20:55:43
Lampard has paid tribute to Evertonians. He said: "Coming in to Everton last year I knew we were in a tough moment and I will always be proud of the incredible work and support from everyone involved to keep the team in the Premier League last season.

"Thanks to everybody that played their part as the whole club came together. I will never forget the incredible night against Palace that we shared.

"I want to thank all Evertonians for the welcome that you gave to myself, my staff, and my family. It truly is a special club with a huge heart, and an incredible history.

"I’m disappointed that we couldn’t achieve more together and wish all the players and everyone at Everton FC the very best for the future."

Mike Price
16 Posted 26/01/2023 at 22:31:59
Clearly a likeable person but he just can’t manage. It was clear months ago that he knew the gig was up; he was going through the motions and then his demeanour and post match interviews were screaming, ‘get me out of here’.

He waited for the inevitable payoff and has done very nicely thank you. Unfortunately he burned through some vital time and winnable fixtures that we can’t get back and are unlikely to recover from.

Kevin Molloy
17 Posted 26/01/2023 at 22:33:38
I think we'll see just how lacking Frank was when we appoint an actual coach rather than an ex player.
Raymond Fox
18 Posted 26/01/2023 at 22:55:02
I'm a believer that class players can make a manager look good and vice versa.
We can argue all day about how good or not Frank was because its a difficult to judge is it him or the players who are not good enough.

We didn't replace Richarlison like for like, was that even possible I doubt it.
Then we have been missing DCL for too much of the season.
Its all about results in the end, but he was deep in the do da chiefly because we have been missing those two this season, I think he would still be our manager if they were fit and in the team.

Don Alexander
19 Posted 27/01/2023 at 01:49:22
Mike (#16), I respect your opinion but surely whoever it was who appointed him has a mega-question to answer when it comes, now, to our accelerated descent to the bottom begun YEARS before FL?

That means someone/s from Moshiri/Kenwright/Lil' Miss Dynamite or Ingles.

The ever-nodding Kenwright dog that is Sharp was, and clearly remains, a non-entity in his appointment.

As for Cahill, who knows? The silence surrounding him is deafening.

We've been run, for years, by a football non-entity who's somehow managed to personally get very wealthy on HIS terms by finding the only billionaire football fantasist with way less football savvy than him.

And they're all still there.


Don Alexander
20 Posted 27/01/2023 at 01:49:22
Mike (#16), I respect your opinion but surely whoever it was who appointed him has a mega-question to answer when it comes, now, to our accelerated descent to the bottom begun YEARS before FL?

That means someone/s from Moshiri/Kenwright/Lil' Miss Dynamite or Ingles.

The ever-nodding Kenwright dog that is Sharp was, and clearly remains, a non-entity in his appointment.

As for Cahill, who knows? The silence surrounding him is deafening.

We've been run, for years, by a football non-entity who's somehow managed to personally get very wealthy on HIS terms by finding the only billionaire football fantasist with way less football savvy than him.

And they're all still there.


Kieran Kinsella
21 Posted 27/01/2023 at 02:52:53
I liked Lampard as a player and from what I can ascertain from a distance as a man. He like Sam Allardyce genuinely seemed chuffed to manage us. I think he bought into the club and it’s history. My criticism of him is that he seemed tactically inept. To his credit he tried to surround himself with experts but I fear his number two and Clement weren’t all they were cracked up to be. With money to spend I think he could have had us as a top 7/8 team and had a respectable tenure. But in these circumstances we need a hard nosed genius just to stay up. That wasn’t him. As an intelligent I wouldn’t be surprised if he learns and evolves and becomes a better coach. But in this cut throat world I doubt he will be given the opportunity. I think it’s sad how things went. I think he was better than Mike Walker but on paper his record is almost identical having been appointed in January, survived after a comeback from 0-2 win then sacked the next season. But unlike Mike he had a magnificent playing career for which he was well compensated. So he’s far from Tiny Tim. But had he joined when Koeman or Silva did I think his record would have been much better.
Frank Crewe
22 Posted 27/01/2023 at 13:51:04
We won 12 league games under Lampard. A win rate of 27%. Only two managers have faired worse. Mike Walker with 17% and Kendall in his 2nd spell with 26%. The fact is by the rules of probability we would have won that many games regardless of who the manager was. The best win rate was the much maligned Benitez with a 50%. Lampard simply wasn't good enough by a long chalk.
Kieran Kinsella
23 Posted 27/01/2023 at 14:05:03

I think you're confused. Rafa's win rate was 31.8% not 50%.

Jerome Shields
24 Posted 28/01/2023 at 15:09:30
Frank never got playing the type of football he wanted.The existing players resorted to type but harder working player showed up.The players that where brought in were not suitable, which is not surprising given Everton's requisition form transfer request system and the assholes involved.

Frank tried a repetitive prematch format to get the players to aleast play together and hopefully come up to a limited technical standard.But alas they could not even shape up to that.

Against Southampton they where a absolute disgrace.

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