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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

‘I am a big boy’: Lampard demands Everton show courage in survival fight

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Frank Lampard says the stark reality of Everton’s situation is that he and the team are in a fight for survival and must show “big balls” to drag themselves out of the mire.

The Everton manager heads to Manchester United in the FA Cup on Friday under intense pressure with his side in the relegation zone after one win in 10 Premier League matches. Lampard insisted he did not need a vote of confidence from the club’s hierarchy – not that one has been forthcoming since Tuesday’s calamitous home defeat by Brighton – and has not sought assurances over his future. He also clarified Everton do not have to sell players to buy but acquiring the striker required to improve the team will be difficult.

Lampard offered more realism than defiance as he assessed Everton’s predicament, admitting there is “a lot of work to be done off the pitch to be better in every way” and that the club is not immune from losing its proud top-flight status after 69 years.

“I came here with my eyes wide open,” said Everton’s seventh permanent manager of the turbulent Farhad Moshiri era. “I am a big boy. I do not fear anything. The reality was clear last year. We were in a relegation fight when I got here. Then there is a reality in the summer when Richarlison moves on and we start to rebuild the squad. You can’t replace those goals unless you go to certain levels and we were not able to get there. That is the reality for me. I can be blunt about it. I don’t need to hide behind anything.

“When it is like that you have to fight to get every ounce from everything to get the time to improve. People talk about Everton and say they have never gone down for years and they should never go down. That is not the case any more. We have to be real, show it and do it, like we did in the run-in last season. We have to do that now.”

Everton supporters turned on the board and players during the Brighton defeat. A collection of 17 fan and social media groups issued an open letter to Moshiri on Thursday calling on the owner to “make sweeping changes at chair, board and executive levels” and “bring in competent, experienced professionals who can reverse our decline and make us competitive once more”.

Jordan Pickford and Idrissa Gueye argue after Brighton’s fourth goal against Everton on Tuesday.
Jordan Pickford and Idrissa Gueye argue after Brighton’s fourth goal against Everton on Tuesday. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Lampard said of the hostility on Tuesday: “To play for Everton, you can really enjoy 5,000 people coming here [Finch Farm training ground] before games that helped us get a victory last year and maybe sometimes you have to show big balls as well to play in difficult moments. It is a passionate fanbase and I’ve got no problem with that. At this moment it is on us to bring them with us and stand up and play for Everton.

“I want to be a success at this club. Whatever challenges that come, I will take them head on and actually enjoy them. I enjoy working for this club, it’s a real honour for me. I don’t need reassurances; I’m a big man who is working for a great club.”

Everton have had six months to find a replacement for Richarlison but, other than recalling Ellis Simms from a productive loan at Sunderland, they are not close to adding the striker desperately needed.

Lampard, linked with a loan move for Aston Villa’s Danny Ings, said: “I am not talking about Danny Ings but both loan or buying players are on the table. You want to recruit the right type of player, especially at the top end of the pitch. It is not an easy situation. We want to improve the squad in January but my job first has to be to work with the players we have.”

Nathan Patterson will be sidelined for six weeks with a medial knee ligament injury sustained against Brighton.

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