Frank Lampard has warned Everton against another relegation battle without signings and internal improvement.
Everton have completed only one free transfer, the defender James Tarkowski, and sold the hugely influential Richarlison for an initial £50m to Tottenham to help improve last year’s accounts. The 27 Campaign – an alliance of several Everton fan groups – has organized a protest outside Goodison Park on Saturday over what it describes as the “complete mismanagement” of the club under the owner, Farhad Moshiri.
A strong Everton team were dismantled 4-0 on Wednesday by Minnesota United, managed by the former Blues stalwart Adrian Heath, their second defeat in two matches on their pre-season tour of the US. Lampard admitted the performance showed there could be a repeat of last season’s canvases unless the squad improves.
“The players have to understand we were in a relegation battle for a big portion of last season,” an angry Everton manager said. “We had an amazing night [May’s comeback win against Crystal Palace to secure safety] and an amazing run but as soon as that finished I put it to bed very quickly, so the players have to put it to bed as well because we were in that fight for a reason. And if we don’t want to be in that situation again – they have to be better and I have to be better.”
Of the Minnesota defeat, he added: “As a club, it reinforced the situation in terms of what we need to do with the squad, because it has to be stronger than what we saw.”
On Everton’s need for signings, having so far failed with offers for Morgan Gibbs-White at Wolves and Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet, Lampard added: “There is no doubt about it. When you think of where we were last year, we have lost a big player in Richarlison … we wish him well, but our club now continues. We know there is a void in forward areas, we are short in numbers there. Also, through the team there are things I want to strengthen and I can be honest about that, because a club like Everton has to have a competitive squad.”
The 27 Campaign has arranged its protest for noon on Saturday to avoid any distractions for Lampard’s team, including next Friday’s “Match for Peace” friendly against Dynamo Kyiv that will raise funds for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. But the campaign has called on Moshiri, who recently quashed talk of a takeover, to overhaul the Everton board after six chaotic and damaging years as owner.
It said: “The current leadership of Everton, including the chairman (Bill Kenwright), board and executive, fall well below the requirements of a modern football club in terms of skills, commercial experience, governance and ambition. This conclusion is evidenced by the complete mismanagement of footballing operations (only now being addressed through [director of football] Kevin Thelwell, Frank Lampard and his team), the financial performance of the club (leading to record losses & significant restrictions on current and future transfer activities) and concerns over the future ownership and funding of the club including Bramley Moore stadium.
“More timely, with only two weeks to the start of the season, the club finds itself struggling in the transfer market, having sold its key playing asset in Richarlison and no indications of the squad strengthening desperately needed by the manager and fans.”