As of the morning of Jan. 23, Everton has fired manager Frank Lampard after a dismal run of form that has seen the Toffees drop to second bottom of the Premier League table with just 15 points from 20 league matches. The decision is hardly surprising as the writing has been on the wall for Lampard for some time now. Everton has lost eight of their last nine league games with their only point in that time coming in an unlikely draw against reigning champions Manchester City. They have not won in the league since October, and have managed to score just 15 goals in the league since the beginning of the season in August. This comes after the club barely survived relegation last season as they had to wait for a come from behind 3-2 win against Crystal Palace in matchweekmatch week 37 to secure their safety.
The question now is who Everton will look to bring in to right the ship for the rest of the season. The have 18 games yet to play; nearly half a season remains for whoever steps into the manager role next. But the selection by the Toffees’ board will have to be correct; if they pick the wrong man this time, there will be no time to stop this massive club from sliding into the second tier.
There are currently two top candidates to replace Lampard, and in a quite poetic turn of events, they may just be the two managers with the most opposite styles of play on Earth. On one side is Sean Dyche, the ultimate pragmatist who kept little old Burnley in the top flight for over half a decade. He did so on a shoestring budget by parking the bus week in, week out and relying on old school, big bruising strikers to score enough headed goals to keep the Clarets in the Premier League. On the other side of the question is Marcelo Bielsa, the innovator of innovators who brought Leeds United back into the league playing some of the most fluid, attack-minded football we have seen from a promoted side in decades. He lead them to ninth in their first season back in the top flight since 2004. Both have their advocates, and both have doubters. But what no one seems to realize is regardless of who takes the job, Everton is doomed regardless.
Of the two, Dyche will be the more likely to keep the team in the league. The squad is bottom heavy with a much better defense than attack, and Dyche is a specialist at squeezing every last drop of potential out of such a team. But giving a multi-year contract to a coach whose specialty is finishing 14th-17th every year will ensure the team will be molded into the new Burnley over the next few years, which a club the size of Everton simply cannot afford. They want to be back in European competition like they were in the David Moyes era, not jockeying for position with Fulham every year. Bielsa, on the other hand, would be the better option to fix the woeful Toffees attack, but he is known for being a poor defensive coach. That means if there is any lag in the attacking output picking up, then any defensive issues that arise from changing to the less rigid, man-marking system Bielsa employs will see their form drop even further off a cliff and Everton will be relegated, which would be a financial death sentence for the club given their recent history of massive transfer fees paid. And there is hardly any attacking talent for Bielsa to work with; Neal Maupay and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are hardly Ronaldo and Messi-esque. The club is simply so deep in the quagmire that there is no more chance of an immediate fix. If it were up to me, Dyche would be hired, but on a short-term deal. Perhaps a contract until the end of the season would suffice. This would hopefully keep Everton’s head above water until they can start fresh again in the summer and go out and find a long-term manager. But knowing how poorly run the club is, don’t be surprised if this decision is botched and Bielsa is coaching the blue side of Liverpool in the second tier come August.