Everton will be looking for some mid-season tonic when they take on Celtic in the Super Cup in Sydney on Sunday.
It’s been a tough few days for the Toffees after those two crushing defeats at Bournemouth.
Everton have slipped perilously close to the relegation zone over the World Cup winter break, with the manager’s future once again up for debate.
For what it’s worth, I’m in the Lampard camp – for now. We’ve burned so many managers in recent years, I’m afraid a bigger shake-up would do more harm than good.
Lampard has certainly made a few mistakes in recent weeks and performances need to improve, but I still think he has enough credit in the bank to have a chance to turn things around.
The January window will of course be important given the anemic looking attack. But this break could also be vital to give Lampard and the coaching staff time to work on new ideas.
It’s also a good chance to escape the pressure cooker of Merseyside for a while. Things looked close to boiling point at the Vitality Stadium, so a bit of time apart will benefit everyone.
Some positive results and performances below will also help. Otherwise, they might find things still pretty hot upon their return.
The Sydney Super Cup is something of a house party for Australian Celtic coach Ange Postecoglou, who has thrived since taking over at the Glasgow giants at the start of last season.
He was something of a surprise as he had never succeeded in Europe before, but managed to wrest the title back from rivals Rangers, 52.n.d Scottish Championship in its history.
They go into the World Cup break in high spirits, with a nine-point lead at the top of the table and progress to the semi-finals of the League Cup. The only trick was a difficult Champions League campaign that saw them finish bottom of their group with just two pints.
In fact, Postecoglou has performed so well that he has been linked with Everton should the Toffees drop Lampard.
Rangers, meanwhile, were originally due to take part in the Super Cup in Sydney but pulled out after a furious backlash from their fans who felt their team would play second fiddle to Celtic and Postecoglou in his native country.
However, things got off to an inauspicious start for Celtic as the Hoops lost 2-1 to Sydney FC in their tournament opener.
Everton will be without Conor Coady, Jordan Pickford, Amadou Onana and Idrissa Gueye as they are on World Cup duty with their countries.
Alex Iwobi and Seamus Coleman are also missing having been on international duty with Nigeria and Ireland.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin is sidelined with shoulder and knee injuries, while Andros Townsend is still recovering from his own knee problem.
However, former Rangers defender Nathan Patterson is available after being recalled from the Scotland squad.
Everton boss Frank Lampard: “When you take this job you understand there will be talk, especially if you take a job like Everton and where we were last season.
“It’s a bit of a process trying to get us back to where we want to be.”
“The Premier League is so competitive that means you have to go through these patches.
“I’m pretty good at not paying too much attention to it. [future rumours]just understand what it is.
“One week you are the best manager in the world after an amazing result [the opposite] – it can go either way.
“That’s OK. I’m lucky to do the job I do and I’m lucky to have had a really long playing career. It gives me a good context. I try to stay pretty even-keeled.”
Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou: “We just want to put in a good performance, we want to finish well before we have eight or nine days off, which will be great for them, and then we get back to work.
“I’m sure Frank Lampard and Everton will similarly escape from the Premier League cauldron and enjoy their football. They will be ready for it and we hope it will be a good game for everyone.”
It’s friendly, so the result doesn’t technically matter. But a decent result would put everyone at ease – for now.
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