Frank Lampard has been appointed as Everton's new manager, and the Toffees are 4/5 to reach the 40-point mark this season.
To put it bluntly, this season has been a disaster for Everton, and has culminated in the sacking of Rafael Benitez with fans protesting outside the ground at how the club is being run.
The fans at Goodison can be tough to please, and you can imagine that even Carlo Ancelotti would have copped some flak from the Gwladys Street End considering his home record at the club – his only full season in charge saw them lose to the likes of Newcastle, Fulham, Burnley and Sheffield United scoring just once in those games as what should have been a European push ended up as a mid-table finish.
In Benitez’s defence, he was fighting an uphill battle from the off. His comments about Everton being a small club when Liverpool manager weren’t forgotten and his cautious managerial style would’ve needed to produce results and fast.
To be fair, he did that, winning three of his first four games and drawing the other. But injuries to Dominic Calvert-Lewin – and later Richarlison – saw the wheels come off rather quickly.
One win in 13, the 5-2 loss to Watford, the 4-1 loss to Liverpool and ultimately, the loss to Norwich. They didn’t even have the defensive stability you’d expect of a Benitez team. The only surprise was that the end didn’t come sooner.
So what of the new man?
Well you wouldn’t expect Lampard to necessarily shore up the defence in a hurry, if the Toffees even have the requisite personnel for that. But we should see more freedom going forward.
In his first season at Stamford Bridge, Lampard made good use of 6ft3 Tammy Abraham and 6ft4 Olivier Giroud as lone front men. The pair netted 23 league goals from a combined 37 starts, and the 6ft2 Calvert-Lewin could fit the bill perfectly.
After starting the season with three goals, Calvert-Lewin hasn’t scored since his return from injury. He’s 7/2 to end the season with five or fewer league goals, and 13/8 to score six or seven.
He’s 15/8 to score eight or none, and 9/2 for 10 or more.
Lampard wanted Chelsea to build from the back, and Jordan Pickford’s distribution should be a very useful tool in that respect, and he’ll likely look to employ a strong pressing game, something not seen at Goodison Park since Marco Silva’s tenure.
The 43-year-old’s first managerial job saw him take Derby to the play-off final, where they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa, though the underlying numbers behind that campaign suggested they were fortunate to finish in the top six.
That summer, Lampard joined Chelsea with the club under a transfer embargo.
The inability to sign new players forced him to introduce the likes of Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount into the first team, and although they shipped 54 goals (not aided by the below-par performances of Kepa Arrizzabalaga) – the ninth-highest in the league – they were an attacking side, whose xG that season was better than champions Liverpool.
The second season, however, saw the transfer embargo lifted as a squad reliant on youth became a squad reliant on stars. Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Edouard Mendy came in, but results didn’t improve, they worsened, and Lampard was let go halfway through the season.
Lampard's first task will be to put any talk of relegation to bed and establish foundations for next season, with a top-half finish realistically the best the Toffees can hope for this season, currently priced at 10/1.
By Steve Freeth