If you want to learn more about the highs and lows of Premier League football, the current state of affairs in Merseyside is the perfect place to start! With a League Cup success already under their belt, Liverpool are riding the crest of a wave heading into the business end of the season and the prospect of becoming the first English team to complete the quadruple is still a possibility — even if it is incredibly unlikely.
However, while the sun isbeaming brightly down on Anfield at the minute, a dark cloud is looming dangerously over the nearby Goodison Park — where things certainly aren’t looking rosy as they are just a mile across the greenery of Stanley Park. There were signs of better things to come under Carlo Ancelotti’s tenure, but the Italian jumped ship last summer — with the pull of Real Madrid too strong to turn down.
Rafael Benítez was the man tasked with filling Ancelotti’simmense void, but given the Spaniard’s previous alliance with the Kopites— spending six years in the Anfield dugout and enjoying FA Cup and Champions League success with the red half of passionate city — the appointment of the 61-year-old was always a recipe for disaster and was never going to end well.
It did start well though, with a string of good results to kick off the 2021-22 season making Everton an outside chance of securing a European football spot with the sports betting sites. But things spiralled out of control as quickly as they started and Benítez was inevitably sacked by the Toffees’ chiefs in mid-January — leaving the club 15th in the table, just six points above the relegation zone and without a win since September!
“I am convinced that we would have been better once the injured players were back and with the arrival of the new signings,” the former Newcastle United and Chelsea boss said in a statement on his personal website following his dismal after a 2-1 defeat to Norwich City sealed his fate.
The harsh reality is that the Everton fans were happy to see the back of him. Not always is the sacking of a manager met which such glee, look at Chris Wilder’s departure from Sheffield United or Marcelo Bielsa’s sacking at Leeds United, for example. But they are managers who were adored by their club’s fanbases, not like Benítez.
Frank Lampard was the man brought in to fix things, while he’s not exactly an upgrade, anybody was better than his predecessor as far as the Everton fans were concerned. But the truth is, Everton are no better off.The glimmer of hope that we saw when the Toffees dismantled Brentford in the FA Cup in Lampard’s first game in charge proved to be nothing more than a one-off.
Fast forward to the current day and the same old, echoing boos are ringing out around Goodison as they did when Benítez was still in charge. The fans are entitled to boo as well, their side have lost five of their last seven league games and are now in real danger of being relegated to the Championship — waving goodbye to the glamour and money of top flight football for the first time in the Premier League era.
Many laughed when Watford replaced Xisco with Claudio Ranieri and then Ranieri with Roy Hodgson, but if Everton can’t take advantage of their games in hand over the Hornets, then it is the veteran manager who could send the Toffees through the trap down and into the second tier.
Perhaps it was an appointment like that that Everton needed following Benítez’s exit. A wise, older head like a Sam Allardyce or a Steve Bruce, not a Lampard who is still learning who he is as a manager and a coach — finding himself in the thick of a relegation scrap after 12 months out of the game and less than three years’ worth of experience on his CV.
The appointment of Lampard has proved uninspiring and some are probably doubting his ability to get Everton out of this mess at this stage. If the Toffees do go down, it will be a massive turning point for both the club and the 43-year-old’s managerial career!