Everton face the biggest two months they’ve faced in a very long time once the current international break is over.
With less than two months remaining of the 2021/22 Premier League season, relegation to the Championship remains a real prospect for the top-flight perennials.
However, Everton’s fixtures over the coming weeks are by no means easy with games against Manchester United, Leicester (twice), Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal still to play.
Frank Lampard has managed Chelsea in the Champions League and Derby in the Championship play-off final but we don’t think the former midfielder has faced a test quite like this in his managerial career.
We cannot imagine how much Farhad Moshiri is sweating over the possibility of relegation.
On 17 March, Telegraph journalist Sam Wallace wrote that “relegation would be a disaster for Everton” and that Lampard is tasked with preventing it from happening.
From what we saw at Selhurst Park in the last game before the international break, Everton would struggle to put up a fight against most teams in the Championship, let alone the Premier League.
Lampard’s men rolled over and whimpered to a 4-0 defeat against Crystal Palace on Sunday. The only saving grace about that game was that it was in the FA Cup, a competition that unfortunately needed to have been ignored this season.
Evertonians don’t want that. While they don’t demand the world, they demand the club puts up a fight in domestic cups and regularly challenges for spots in European football.
All you have to do to be reminded that’s a massive possibility is to look at what David Moyes is doing right now with West Ham.
While West Ham have been touted as top-four challengers, are in the quarter-finals of the Europa League and in the top seven spots again currently in the Premier League, Everton are 17th and just three points clear of Watford in 18th.
Watford don’t have the easiest of games remaining but their run-in is certainly less daunting than the one Lampard’s facing.
Burnley, who are 19th, are the ones to watch, however. Sean Dyche has been here plenty of times before and has shown he’s more than capable of defying the odds.
On 6 April, Burnley will play Everton. However, the Clarets do still have games against Manchester City, West Ham and Tottenham left to play. But, again, their remaining fixtures are not as difficult as Everton’s.
Moshiri’s walking a financial tightrope at Goodison Park and, as reported by The Telegraph, relegation would “wipe out around £70 million of Everton’s broadcast income at a stroke”.
And, perhaps more worryingly, only some players at Goodison Park have clauses in their contracts that would see their wages decrease amid relegation [The Athletic].
It makes you think, what motivation do some of these players have to drag the Blues out of the relegation mire?
If they’re going to get paid the same in the Championship as they would while battling against relegation from the Premier League, why bother?
Of course, there are other motivations to stay in the Premier League that goes without saying but do these players look as though they’re a motivated bunch?
Anthony Gordon and Jordan Pickford clearly are. Are the rest?
Lampard really hasn’t faced a task like this in his entire career. He’s used to trying to win things – not avoid relegation.
He’s the man we’re counting on right now because the players are repeatedly letting us down and Moshiri is too.
If Lampard does this and avoids the drop, he’ll be treated as a hero by Evertonians for some time.