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31 Jan, 2022 16:16

Lampard in at Everton a year on from Abramovich sacking

Chelsea icon Frank Lampard has been unveiled as the new boss of Premier League side Everton
Lampard in at Everton a year on from Abramovich sacking

Chelsea's iconic former player and manager Frank Lampard has been tasked with helping Everton avoid relegation from the Premier League as the ex-England midfielder takes his latest step in coaching a year on from being axed by Blues supremo Roman Abramovich.

As had been heavily reported in the media in recent days, Lampard has inked a two-and-a-half year deal at Goodison Park, where he replaces the fiercely unpopular Rafael Benitez, under whose stewardship the Toffees' Premier League survival had come under serious threat amid.

Lampard re-enters management a year after being deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, ending an 18-month tenure during which he was credited with overseeing an influx of academy talent into a Chelsea first team which now counts the likes of Mason Mount, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi as among the first names on the team sheet. 

He was replaced in late January 2021 by German boss Thomas Tuchel – who won Chelsea's second Champions League trophy less than four months later.

Lampard emerged as Everton's preferred candidate in recent days, beating Portuguese boss Vitor Pereira and assistant coach Duncan Ferguson to the role. Ferguson will be retained as a member of Lampard's coaching staff.

The hunt for a new manager appeared to border on the farcical at times during the two weeks following Benitez's ousting. A social media poll by the nephew of Alisher Usmanov – the Russian billionaire with strong links to Everton owner Farhad Moshiri – confirmed that supporters were in favor of Lampard's appointment.

However, that drew heavy criticism in some quarters amid accusations that Everton were 'crowd-sourcing' their new manager.

But with the ink still drying on his contract, Lampard has eschewed any such criticism, outlining in his first comments in the job said that he understands the scale of the task awaiting him.

"It is a huge honour for me to represent and manage a club the size and tradition of Everton Football Club," he said.

"I'm very hungry to get started. After speaking to the owner, chairman [Bill Kenwright] and the board, I very much felt their passion and ambition. I hope they felt my ambition and how hard I want to work to bring it together.

"You can feel the passion Everton fans have for their club. That will be hugely important. As a team – the competitive level that the Premier League brings and the position we are in the table – we certainly need that. It's a two-way thing.

"I think Everton is a unique club in that you can really understand what the fans want to see. The first thing they want is fight and desire and that must always be our baseline.

"My first message to the players will be that we have to do this together. We'll try to do our job and I know the fans will be there backing us."

Moshiri, meanwhile, stated that he looks forward to the "boost" the appointment will have on first-team affairs.

"I am really delighted that Frank has joined us," he said. "He is an impressive young man and off the pitch. He has played at the very highest level of the game and has football in his blood.

"He impressed us all greatly during the thorough interview process and we're all ready to give him all of our support as he looks to give the team an immediate boost."

One of Tuchel's assistants, Joe Edwards, has left Chelsea to join Lampard’s coaching staff at Everton, having been promoted to his role when the manager took over at the Blues in 2019.

Edwards had spent 27 years at Chelsea as a player and coach and the club said he will not be replaced.

Before managing Chelsea – who he led to Champions League qualification and an FA Cup final defeat against Arsenal in 2020 – Lampard guided Championship outfit Derby County to a second-tier playoff final in which they were defeated by Aston Villa in what was his first season in professional management.

Everton are currently languishing just four points above the Premier League relegation zone and have managed just one win from their last 14 games in the league, losing their last three including defeat at Norwich – the side directly below them – in Benitez's final match in charge.

The response online to Lampard's appointment has been largely one of cautious expectation.

"He looks so determined and ready to do the job. Wish him all the luck," said one Everton fan.

"I'm actually chufffed to have him as our manager. Got that good feeling again, let's go," said another.

A third football fan, though, wasn't quite so sure: "So, Carlo [Ancelotti, current Real Madrid boss] and Rafa were not good enough?

"[There were] protests with 'we demand the best' and you answer with Lampard? Are your fans happy with that?"