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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Andy Hunter

Marcelo Bielsa in Everton’s thoughts after Frank Lampard sacked as manager

Marcelo Bielsa could make a return to the Premier League at Everton after Frank Lampard was sacked with the team immersed in another relegation struggle.

Bielsa has been out of work since his dismissal by Leeds in February last year and the 67-year-old Argentinian coach is being considered by Everton’s owner, Farhad Moshiri, for the task of saving the club’s Premier League status. The former Burnley manager Sean Dyche is another available option.

Moshiri is believed to have already spoken with Bielsa about the prospect of replacing Lampard at Goodison Park. It remains to be seen whether the former Athletic Bilbao coach is interested or has backing from other Everton directors, with the club supposedly taking a collective approach to managerial appointments. The West Bromwich Albion head coach, Carlos Corberán, may also be considered.

Everton fans again protested against Moshiri, the chairman Bill Kenwright and the board after the 2-0 defeat at West Ham on Saturday but it is Lampard, appointed just under a year ago, who has paid with his job for a run of 11 defeats in 14 matches. The Everton board met on Sunday to discuss the team’s plight and the former England international was informed his reign was over in a phone call from Moshiri on Monday.

The backroom staff of the assistant manager Joe Edwards and the first-team coaches Paul Clement, Ashley Cole and Chris Jones have also departed. The Everton under-21s head coach, Paul Tait, and Leighton Baines, now an academy coach, will take first-team training until a new manager is appointed.

Everton issued a statement more than five hours after Lampard’s sacking that read: “Everyone at Everton would like to thank Frank and his coaching staff for their service during what has been a challenging 12 months. Frank and his team’s commitment and dedication have been exemplary throughout their time at the club, but recent results and the current league position meant this difficult decision had to be taken.”

Moshiri has now sacked his sixth manager in less than seven years and the British-Iranian billionaire is seeking the eighth permanent manager of his chaotic tenure. Lampard had overseen one win in 12 Premier League matches, only three league wins all season, and had been in a precarious position since the Boxing Day home defeat by Wolves, who were bottom. Everton have since slipped to joint-bottom with their lowest points tally after 20 league games.

Lampard replaced the divisive Rafael Benítez on 31 January last year but, despite preserving Everton’s top-flight status in the penultimate game of the season against Crystal Palace, his win ratio was worse than any permanent Everton manager with the exception of Mike Walker.

The latest turmoil and threat of relegation comes at a perilous moment for Everton and Moshiri. A new stadium costing at least £550m is under construction at Bramley-Moore Dock, the club’s last three available set of accounts show combined losses of £372.6m and lucrative commercial ties were cut with companies owned by the oligarch Alisher Usmanov after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Everton owner Farhad Moshiri watches the 2-0 defeat at West Ham
The Everton owner Farhad Moshiri (right) watches the 2-0 defeat at West Ham. Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Lampard had expected to be backed in the January transfer market given there was recognition throughout the club that his striking options needed to improve. He had identified several potential targets working alongside Kevin Thelwell, the third director of football of the Moshiri era, and believed additional firepower would help pull the team away from danger. A loan deal for the Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma is imminent, although Everton missed out on their striking targets Kevin Schade, Georginio Rutter and Danny Ings to Brentford, Leeds and West Ham respectively.

Everton sold Richarlison, their leading goalscorer last season, in July to help them to comply with Premier League profit and sustainability rules. The subsequent recruits for the final third, Neal Maupay and Dwight McNeil, have been poor and the first-choice striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been plagued by injuries for two seasons.

Lampard helped to reconnect a disillusioned Everton fanbase with the team last season during the fight against relegation but backing for the former Derby and Chelsea manager began to fade after two woeful defeats at Bournemouth in the week before the break for the World Cup.

Everton chose to stand by their latest manager, with Moshiri claiming he had faith in Lampard’s work and that stability was required 13 days before sacking him. There were chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” towards Lampard’s players as well as renewed calls to sack the board after the defeat against Southampton, when directors stayed away on the advice of the club’s security staff. They were present at West Ham, however, to see the former Everton manager David Moyes improve his job prospects at the expense of the former West Ham midfielder.

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