How Frank Lampard has transformed Alex Iwobi into the heartbeat of Everton

11/10/2022 24comments  |  Jump to last

For the first time in his career, Alex Iwobi has finally been given a chance to play in a central area by current manager Frank Lampard. He has started the season in fine form, with consistently strong performances from deeper, whilst also adding goal contributions on top of that. This strong start even earned him a nomination for the player of the month award, which further proves just how well he has been playing.

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Reader Comments (24)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 11/10/2022 at 10:02:31
No doubt he's become a real player now Iwobi and that kind of goal on Sunday is one that I think he can do more often, for a player with a clear ability to hit a football crisply.

Lampard deseves credit for his transformation and Iwobi has now propelled himself as arguably our most productive midfielder.

Tony Abrahams
2 Posted 11/10/2022 at 10:22:35
Iwobi has got to go further now he's got the backing of the crowd and is now playing full of confidence. Maybe this will only happen when he's got better forward players to play with, but he rushes too much imo, and one such incident helped to give United their second goal on Sunday night.

It's not a criticism, and the fact that nobody really blames him for Man Utd's winner shows how far Alex Iwobi has come in a short space of time. But I'm sure he can do much better, just by bringing a little bit more calmness into his game at times.

Andy Meighan
3 Posted 11/10/2022 at 10:36:21
Never seen a transformation in a player like him. Even when he switched to right-back on Sunday, I still thought he was our most dangerous attacking outlet.

Funny because only last year I always thought his first name was "Thatfuckin. Because in the pubs after the game all I heard was "That fuckin Iwobi".

Jim Bennings
4 Posted 11/10/2022 at 10:40:24
Tony @2,

The more I watch back that second Man Utd goal, especially on the stills on YouTube, Pickford takes half the blame there as well as Iwobi.

I can't really criticize a forward player losing the ball in the opposition half, the fact is Ronaldo should never have been allowed to score from that angle.

Coady has made Pickford's job easy for him, stay in the 6-yard box and cover the near post and that is very unlikely to be a goal.

Don't get me wrong, Pickford has been really good now for the best part of 18 months but there are still moments every now and then and Sunday he didn't seem on it.

Although I agree, I think if Iwobi had forwards that had more mobility in front of him, you'd see an even better player.

Danny O’Neill
5 Posted 11/10/2022 at 11:21:07
He gives absolutely everything, even when it's not going well for him and the crowd are groaning, he never gave in. The lad has spirit and guts.

No told you so moment, but there was always a player there. Now he is playing in his preferred position. I'm not saying players should dictate, but he did say so if I recall.

How many players have been wasted because managers have been fearful of playing them central despite their footballing talent? Play them wide and get them out of the way because they are considered weak and lightweight?

Leon Osman springs to mind. An attacking midfielder and what you would now call a number 10 if I ever saw one. But spent a lot of his career on the flanks as he was considered a risk. Good enough to be on the pitch, but get him out of the way.

I still remember that goal to give us the 2-1 victory against City after going a goal down when he lept like a Gazelle to head home at the Park End. Little Leon against the City centre backs (Lescott??). But in a central position.

Good on Frank and the management team for how they've realised the best position to play Iwobi and get the best out of him.

I actually still think a more central position will be better for Gordon over time. Just a thought, so interested in what others think.

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 11/10/2022 at 12:18:49
The thing with blame Jim, is that it doesn’t take the goal away, and I’d much prefer to see a player losing the ball because he was trying to be positive, rather than because he was scared to make a mistake. I thought Pickford got his angles wrong the second it went in, but credit to Ronaldo, because on a wet pitch, he hit the ball truly, whilst keeping it down, and probably deceived Pickford, with his quality?

I still thought we lost the game because United had much more quality, with the disappointing thing for me being, that for the first time in a while, Everton seemed to be playing in-between two stools?

Ray Robinson
7 Posted 11/10/2022 at 13:19:22
We're a funny lot, we Evertonians. We build players up quickly and we shoot them down just as fast.

Iwobi isn't half as dire as I thought he was but he's no world beater either. I'm amazed by his transformation which is down to his strength of character in the face of constant criticism and as a result of tremendous effort on his part… but is he as good as some people are now making out? Probably not… but I'd like him to prove me wrong.

He's certainly worth his place in the team but is capable of much more. Goalscoring for a start, despite his goal against Man Utd. And he most certainly isn't a fullback. He can get a toe in to nick the occasional ball from the opposition but he can't really tackle. How many times does he get to his man and then, instead of closing him down completely with a challenge, just stands off half a yard?

This isn't his fault (being a collective failing) but doesn't anyone else find it rather amusing and slightly embarrassing when he goes charging all over the pitch chasing the ball? Full marks for effort but it reminds me of a schoolkid in the playground.

A bit more guile, a bit more creativity around the box and a better goals contribution and I'll revise my opinion upwards another notch. There's a player in there certainly but he's not yet reached the pedestal that some have placed him on.

Lee Courtliff
8 Posted 11/10/2022 at 14:32:32
I can't remember being as pleased for a player as I am for Alex. But, as much as I like him and as much as I always said there's a player in there somewhere, he's not a world beater by any means.

He's a good, progressive, quick-footed midfielder who makes us much better than we were before. And he's brave... the goal on Sunday came because he lost the ball by trying to make something happen rather than just playing the safe option.

I'll never criticise a player for that, especially when it's 80 yards from our goal.

Jim Bennings
9 Posted 11/10/2022 at 15:17:10
I think we all accept Alex Iwobi is not a world beater, we know he isn't and never will be Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, he's one of the few in our midfield that likes to carry the ball forward and at least try and make things happen. I heard someone say at the end of last season that he's Ross Barkley without the goals.

Hmm... maybe some comparison there but I think Iwobi works so much harder off the ball than Barkley ever did. If he can add 7 or 8 goals to his game this season, then that cranks him up another level.

Danny O’Neill
10 Posted 11/10/2022 at 15:29:44
That's a very important point Jim.

In my experience as a player and a follower of football, you often have to do most of the hard work off the ball rather than on it.

Iwobi hasn't suddenly become Messi. He's improved massively. He still makes mistakes, like most players of his standard. But he's working hard, showing desire and commitment. And he's playing without fear. He shows for the ball.

The supporters can see that.

Ray Robinson
12 Posted 11/10/2022 at 16:33:56
Interesting comment about Barkley vs Iwobi. To improve his output, Iwobi needs to become more Barkley without losing the work rate.

Onana, Gana and Doucouré are never going to provide many goals from midfield, so the one guy seemingly capable of scoring more, needs to do so.

Jay Harris
13 Posted 11/10/2022 at 17:02:38
Although I was very disappointed in him losing the ball for that Man Utd goal, I still think it was far enough up the pitch that we should have been able to cover it without too much damage.

I thought Gana had a mare on Sunday, and it obviously affected Coady and Tarkowski too who both made serious mistakes.

Where did the confidence go at 1-0 up?

Mike Gaynes
14 Posted 11/10/2022 at 17:16:43
Danny #10, yes, and his teammates can see him too.

Have you noticed that he's suddenly everybody's first choice for midfield passes or short releases out of the back? Everybody who wins a ball seems to look immediately for Alex.

Dale Self
15 Posted 11/10/2022 at 18:00:27
Yeah, Mike, and with what little possession, style, timing, command – something that Iwobi's got that others lack –
he is presently the heartbeat of the team. He's not quite at Valderama's level but the rest of the team is getting their offensive cue from his positioning and activity.

The goal he gave up was down to trying too hard to compensate for the lack of courage for the ball elsewhere, it was a good effort that just went wrong.

I've been watching two things specifically about Iwobi, the footwork in possession and his ability to disrupt on defence. He has improved immensely on both fronts to the point of satisfaction.

The reason I think there is more upside is that I've seen some moments where he just stepped in and did some Nigerian micro-mamba and left the defender stunned. I even saw one dude crack a smile after he got burned ,it was so smooth.

As we mature and develop some cover in terms of where Iwobi can take the ball to reset possession, Chuka can make some things happen from anywhere 40 yards in.

I'm believing. Chuka! Chuka!

Mike Gaynes
16 Posted 11/10/2022 at 18:34:24
Dale #15,

I think he's always had that. I remember seeing one of those club website interviews a year ago when the interviewer asked the two players -- I can't remember who they were -- who did the most things in training that just amazed them. Without hesitation, both players replied "Alex" and I just shook my head, wondering where it was in games.

Now we know.

Bill Gienapp
17 Posted 11/10/2022 at 18:49:14
Early days, but when people were questioning where the goals were going to come from this season, I wondered if Iwobi's newfound confidence and influence would translate to more of a goalscoring output.

Based on the quality of that strike (easily his best in an Everton shirt), I'm hoping the answer is yes.

Paul Kernot
18 Posted 11/10/2022 at 20:16:26
Tony #2.

Can't blame Alex, as you say. The rushing thing I think is generated by an entire team energy via the players around him and the team as a whole.

We're not scoring enough and that has translated to rushing shots and over hitting through balls. Easy to say we all just need to relax. It will come with confidence and results.

Compare us with Man City who are almost too relaxed sometimes. The key difference being they switch gears at absolutely the right time and through balls are penetrating and inch-perfect.

Once again, it will come. We just need to get the whole team more confident in their ability to control games.

Andrea Jacobs
19 Posted 11/10/2022 at 21:29:20
I'm think he's still bang average, shite even. He does one good thing and then about 65 rubbish things.

Our expectations and standards of what makes a good player have slipped so dramatically that the turnaround of Iwobi has become one of the few good things we can cling to.

He's an important squad player no doubt but I don't think he should be starting in the future team Lampard has in mind.
He's a stopgap player, like most players in the side.

This is an unpopular opinion, sorry for going against the spirit (and grain) of the Iwobi revival but I only rate Pickford and Onana as properly decent footballers, the rest are lightweights.

Patterson could potentially improve to a Top 6 player but the rest are not that good, Gordon is massively overrated and Iwobi is all bustling energy with moments of pure quality that are far too rare to consider him a high-level player.

Brent Stephens
20 Posted 11/10/2022 at 21:39:31
"I'm think he's [Iwobi] still bang average, shite even. He does one good thing and then about 65 rubbish things."

One good thing versus 65 rubbish things! Well, what a comment. Bang average! Shite!

Mike Gaynes
21 Posted 11/10/2022 at 21:43:23
Paul, there's also a teeny-tiny difference in player quality there too.
Bill Gienapp
22 Posted 11/10/2022 at 22:25:08
Andrea (19),

It's fine if you don't rate Iwobi as highly as others but, if you truly think he's shite, it may be quite a long time before you get an Everton side that meets your standards.

Lee Courtliff
23 Posted 11/10/2022 at 22:46:13
A VERY long time!!
David West
24 Posted 11/10/2022 at 23:06:48
I'm guilty of thinking he had no future just 12 months ago. Now IMO he's the one player we have no direct replacement for. How much would we miss him if he was missing?

No other player will take the ball in tight spaces and keep it without being scared to play, to look for the right pass. Hope that goal gives him even more belief in his ability.

I'd like him to be more direct with his passing sometimes, but I suspect that's hard when the movement in front of him is so stagnant. A fully fit Calvert-Lewin may change that.

Gordon should look at the energy Alex shows and say "I'm nowhere near that level." How Gordon is goosed after 50 minutes and Iwobi is sprinting round chasing everyone is worrying.

Well done to the lad, he's not scoring loads, but he's working his arse off and, as Frank would say "He's showing he's got the bollocks to play."

Jim Bennings
25 Posted 12/10/2022 at 06:59:10
David 24

I've noticed that about Gordon this season too especially in the home games.

I do wonder if the same hunger is there since the "will he won't he" transfer to Chelsea never materialized.

I read the interview he gave a few weeks back and it didn't seem that he was over the moon to still be here, more an acceptance that the move never happened and he didn't push it but then again the lad probably felt that it was a big move, Champions League and we need to remember he's not a massive boyhood Evertonian so primarily it's just business.

It concerns me more how on earth a winger has picked up five yellow cards and is suspended in early October.

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