Trust in Frank Lampard hangs by thread before Everton’s Boxing D-Day | Everton

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Right, where were we? Police and stewards had formed a cordon to separate angry fans from angry players, Jordan Pickford was ushered away from one confrontation, Alex Iwobi gave his shirt to a supporter and had it thrown back at him and Frank Lampard held his hands up in apology after a second anaemic defeat at Bournemouth inside five days. We pick up with Everton in trouble again.

Six weeks is a long time to brood over events on the south coast, where Everton’s collapse in form was met with an ugly demonstration of a collapse in support for Lampard’s team. One of the major plusses of the Everton manager’s 11-month reign has been the reconnection between crowd and players after the divisive days of Rafael Benítez and the disillusionment that had set in before his ridiculous appointment.

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The union was critical to the club’s Premier League survival last season. To see it unravel at the Vitality Stadium was confirmation that goodwill has limits and that Lampard must correct form fast to avoid another campaign fraught with relegation danger. The visit of bottom-of-the-table Wolves on Boxing Day is loaded with significance before the trip to Manchester City on New Year’s Eve.

“I never presumed that couldn’t happen at a football club like ours,” the Everton manager said of the Bournemouth revolt. “When you come to a club with passionate fans, you as a player, or me as a manager, has to take on your shoulders the ability to deal with the great side – which is me saying how amazing it is that 45,000 fans turned up and helped drive the performance against Chelsea last season – or fans that want to say Bournemouth wasn’t good enough.

“I agree. It wasn’t good enough. There is somewhere in the middle where we need to get a better balance because we need each other if we want to be successful. I feel it’s the players’ responsibility to play at a higher level of energy and intensity particularly, because that is always the first demand, and the fans will go with them. I’ve got no doubt about that. They have showed us that before. We have responsibility there.”

Anthony Gordon trains with Everton
Frank Lampard is aiming to add to his attack in January with options other than Anthony Gordon in short supply. Photograph: Tony McArdle/Everton/Getty Images

Lampard has never hidden his belief that this season would be problematic or that it will take more than one transfer window to correct the numerous errors of the Farhad Moshiri era (not his words, admittedly). Equally, Evertonian patience did not snap purely because of two bad results at Bournemouth, where Lampard’s 11 changes for a Carabao Cup tie backfired in a 4-1 reverse before the 3-0 loss in the Premier League.

“This is Everton and we’re not representing that as a team at the moment,” said a despairing Conor Coady, who is ineligible to face his parent club on Boxing Day. Supporters who made two round trips totalling more than 1,000 miles in five days would agree. Everton are one place and one point above the relegation zone as a consequence of five defeats in seven league games before the World Cup. They did not score in five of those fixtures, which should come as no great surprise to a club that sold last season’s leading goalscorer, Richarlison, placed too much faith in Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s recovery from injury and added only Neal Maupay to its striking options in the summer.

There is, however, recognition from the top that the manager needs backing in January and a new striker – or two – is the priority. But it will not be straightforward. Atlético Madrid’s Matheus Cunha was under consideration before Wolves blew Everton out of the water with a loan deal with an obligation to buy for more than £40m next summer. Mohammed Kudus has been wanted since the summer but tempting Ajax to sell a player who has since enhanced his reputation in the Champions League and World Cup will require a considerable sum.

“We were very aware of the player,” said Lampard of Cunha. “He’s a really interesting player but the number is big and Wolves, to be fair, have made the decision to go for him. Everyone has to work in different parameters and it wasn’t a parameter for us to work in.

“It is not easy but it is our job and it is recruitment’s job to find the right players to help us now. Do we need help at the top end of the pitch? Yes. We are fully aware of that. But it is not easy to do because it is a hard market in January. I think we can do loans and buys – we will look at both – but I want players to improve us now, not just to come in and be squad players. They have to come and help us.”

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