Everton's empty philosophy has finally caught up to them

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Everton's empty philosophy has finally caught up to them

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Amal Joyce

04/03/2022

Sustained midtable finishes and aspirations for being among the European elites in the Premier League is a long way away for the Toffees as they navigate through the trials and tribulations of a relegation tussle. Their lack of know-how and incompetence could be their undoing this summer.

Everton are enduring their worst ever season in the Premier League and that has come as no shock despite the fact that they are one of six English clubs that have never been relegated from the Premier League since its creation in 1992.  The others are Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham, and Chelsea, so they are part of an elite group. Well, that could be about to change as the Merseyside club are facing a fight for survival at the moment with them currently outside the bottom three by just three points. 

A successful renaissance under Frank Lampard hasn't happened yet as they have lost five of their first seven Premier League games under the Englishman. If they do not manage to avoid the drop then this has been a lesson that has been a long time coming. If they do manage to manipulate the shark-infested water at the end of the season then this will prove to be a lesson that they would need to inculcate for their future.

This is a self-sabotage strategy of the highest order. Owing to five years of atrocious ownership from Farhad Moshiri that has driven Everton into the ground as over the same timeline they have spent close to £500 million on new players and have found very little value in their ventures as their disjointed squad lack an identity. The lack of any footballing oversight or intelligence has been mind-boggling.

Basically, the strategy seems to be that of acting like a big club in the hopes of becoming one; to buy the shiniest toys in the market and then building a squad of famous players with a famous manager but without any real direction.

Over the years, their approach to hiring managers has been puzzling, to say the least as there has been no continuity or widespread implementation of a tactical vision. This has led to why Everton have such an unbalanced and lopsided squad that features players suited Ronald Koeman to Sam Allardyce to Marco Silva to Carlo Ancelotti to Rafael Benitez to now Frank Lampard. In hiring the former Chelsea coach they have found the perfect scapegoat for their empty philosophy.

Lampard landed his first managerial gig within 12 months of retiring and has spent very little time learning his craft. The English manager took Derby County from sixth in the Championship to sixth in the Championship but he was awarded for this achievement by being rewarded with the Chelsea job. He came in during a difficult time for the London club and managed to inspire a generation of youth players who idolized him into a fourth-placed finish in the PL which was a step down as they finished 3rd the previous year.

He was fired in his second season for their poor form despite their high spending on players who later proved that were a Champions League winning squad. Not only that, Lampard's lack of detail and his inability to set up a defense has carried on to his Everton side as they play with vague ideas. They are easily counter-attacked, their high line is just a high line and is not organized with proper defensive coaches to stop the opposition on a consistent basis.

The Toffees' boss has already deployed three distinct formations -  4-4-2, 4-3-3, and 3-4-3 – across his first eight games in all competitions, switching from one to the next whenever Everton loses. Trial and error is no way to formulate a plan and considering this is essentially 11 players tasked with avoiding relegation, the least they need is some consistency to start finding their own patterns of play.

Hiring Lampard was a puzzling decision from the Merseyside club's point of view as he had no prior experience in engaging in a relegation tussle nor did he show any examples of overcoming adversity throughout his short career. It does match up well with Everton's philosophy;  act like they are building a big club by completing marquee transfers like Dele Alli and Donny Van de Beek- two players who play in the same position that nobody else wanted.

Any hope of a new manager bounce is long gone and any hope that Lampard could find a way forward now is slowly fading rapidly. The return of Dominic Calvert Lewin hasn't changed anything and there are still exist pre-existing flaws which are now exaggerated by new management. Everton fans could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief after beating Newcastle in a high-stakes match that could decide relegation but they shouldn't hold their breath.

It was always going to be hard turning things around mid-season but the club's lack of vision has been a long-term problem that has now made its way to the spotlight. So bad that even the threat of potentially losing their Premier League status for the first time in their history didn't see them change. Instead, the Toffees' management kept riding forward, saw the iceberg and drove straight into it instead of taking time to find another route.

But it could be seen as a boon as it could allow for the total restructuring of the club without massive long-term effects because if they do get relegated and manage to keep the core of this squad, then Everton are favourites to bounce back up. If they don't get relegated then at the very least this club needs a long hard look in the mirror and an overhaul of changes in the hierarchy will be necessary to avoid a repeat scenario.

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