Saturday had the chance to be a turning point in Everton and Frank Lampard’s season but ultimately hit their lowest point in another dismal season.
Just nine months after euphoric scenes at Goodison Park after Lampard steered the Toffees to Premier League survival, the disconnect between fans and club owners seems greater than ever.
Such was the concern for the safety of the board members visiting leaders Southampton that they were asked to stay off the ground Because of fears for their safety In what the club described as a “very sad day”.
Protests had long been planned around the match, with banners displayed before kick-off, while thousands of Everton fans stayed long after full time to organize a sit-in.
A win and a positive performance could have helped lift the tense atmosphere, but in the end they fell short as the Toffees fell to a devastating 2-1 defeat that left them second from bottom, one point from safety.
There is plenty of time for Everton to turn things around and walk away with another escape, but there is no doubt that there is a sense of desperation among the fans as they find their club in this position once again.
A day of hope turns even more disappointing
While the anger at the club’s owners is the culmination of several seasons of strife and what fans see as poor decision-making at boardroom level, the sense that they are behind the players was strong in the build-up to Saturday’s game.
In scenes reminiscent of yesteryear, when fans were lauded for being Everton’s twelfth man in their bid to retain their Premier League status, large numbers lined the streets around Goodison Park, blue flares flashing at the arrival of the manager.
This positive atmosphere extended to the start of the game as the players walked out, but full-time those players left the field booed, with only applause given to Amadou Onana, who scored the Everton goal, as he made his way into the tunnel.
Onana’s header should have given Everton the boost they needed to run in and get the win, but once again their inability to see the game proved their downfall.
Everton have scored just nine goals in their past 13 matches and only twice this season have they managed more than one goal in a match.
“We have to do better,” said Lampard, noting his team’s lack of attacking threat.
“We’ve talked about it a lot in terms of what a clinical threat can do in matches. Not scoring enough goals is difficult because you can have good periods in matches but if you don’t score it keeps the other team in the game.
It was definitely a problem for us.”
Can Lampard turn him around?
The stats make for worrying reading for Lampard.
They are winless in their past seven Premier League matches – their longest run without a win in the same season from October to December in 2021, when they failed to win eight consecutive matches under Rafael Benitez.
They have also lost their past four home matches in the Premier League; It was the first time they had lost four consecutive home league matches since a run of seven defeats between April and September 1958.
It is now 20 defeats in 37 league games since Lampard was appointed on January 31 last year.
Despite this, Lampard managed to take on an Everton side of low confidence last season and oversaw crucial victories against Manchester United and Chelsea to ensure survival.
It is that experience that he plans to leverage to turn his team’s fortunes around again.
“I’m lucky because I’ve been in the game for so long and you get really tough in the face of these things. It becomes your life,” Lampard said. “The only thing I want to do is bring success to this club.
“In terms of my own abilities, I’m always confident in that. I know I’m not a miracle worker and I know I’m not the best coach in the world, but I know I’m going to work as hard as I can to be as good as I can be.”
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri also appears confident in Lampard’s ability, After publicly endorsing it earlier this week.
But how long this situation will last after this particularly devastating defeat remains to be seen.