Marcelo Bielsa could return to the Premier League at Everton after Frank Lampard was sacked and the team plunged into yet another relegation battle.
The 67-year-old Argentine coach has been out of work since Leeds sacked him last February and is being considered by Everton owner Farhad Moshiri as a candidate to save the club’s Premier League status. Former Burnley manager Sean Dyche is another available option and Ralph Hasenhüttl has admirers at Everton. The former Southampton manager was the subject of interest when Rafa Benitez was sacked last January.
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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 in or has support from other Everton directors, with the club reportedly taking a collective approach to managerial appointments.
Everton fans protested again against Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenwright and the board after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to West Ham, but it was Lampard, appointed less than a year ago, who paid with his work for a dreadful streak of 11 defeats in 14 matches. The Everton board met on Sunday to discuss the team’s plight and the former England international was told his reign had come to an end in a phone call from Moshiri on Monday.
The backroom staff of assistant manager Joe Edwards and first-team coaches Paul Clement, Ashley Cole and Chris Jones are expected to leave, although Everton have not confirmed any changes. Lampard is the sixth manager to be sacked by Moshiri in less than seven years, and the British-Iranian billionaire is seeking an eighth permanent manager in his chaotic tenure.
Lampard has overseen one win in 12 Premier League games, only three league wins all season and has been in a precarious position since the Boxing Day home defeat to Wolves who were down. Everton have since plummeted to the bottom with the club’s lowest record at this stage of any Premier League season following a dismal loss to Brighton and another home defeat to bottom-placed Southampton.
Lampard replaced the divisive Benitez on January 31 last year, but despite retaining Everton’s top-flight position in the penultimate match of the season against Crystal Palace, his win rate was worse than any Everton permanent manager save for Mike Walker.
The latest turmoil and the threat of relegation come at a dangerous time for Everton and Moshiri. A new stadium costing at least £550m is under construction at the Bramley Moore dock, the club’s last three available sets of accounts show combined losses of £372.6m and lucrative commercial links have been severed with companies owned by oligarch Alisher Usmanov after the Russian invasion to Ukraine.
Lampard expected support in the January transfer market, given that it was felt across the club that his striking options needed to improve. He identified several potential targets by working with Kevin Thelwell, the third director of football of the Moshiri era, and believed the extra firepower would help draw the team out of danger. A loan deal for Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma is close, although Everton missed striking goals from Kevin Schade, Georginio Rutter and Danny Ings to Brentford, Leeds and West Ham respectively.
Everton sold last season’s top scorer Richarlison in July to help them comply with the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. The next recruits for the final period, Neal Maupay and Dwight McNeil, were poor, and first-choice striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin was plagued by injuries for two seasons.
Lampard helped reunite disillusioned Everton fans with the team during last season’s battle against relegation, but support for the former Derby and Chelsea manager began to wane after two pathetic defeats to Bournemouth in the week before the World Cup break.
Everton opted to side with their last manager, with Moshiri claiming to believe in Lampard’s work and that 13 days of stability was required before sacking him. There were chants of ‘You’re not fit to wear a shirt’ at Lampard’s players, as well as repeated calls for the board to be sacked after the Southampton loss when directors stayed away on the advice of the club’s security staff. However, they were present at West Ham to see former Everton manager David Moyes improve his career prospects at the expense of the former West Ham midfielder.