By Andy Hampson, PA
Frank Lampard recognises he is facing an immediate battle for Premier League survival after taking over as Everton manager.
The former Chelsea boss returned to the game as Rafael Benitez’s successor at Goodison Park earlier this week.
The Merseyside club may have bold ambitions – with work on a new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock under way – but Lampard admits his first priority is to avoid relegation.
"I have been very impressed with the players, but the next steps are the results."
Watch live: https://t.co/9iVCC0Yf9e pic.twitter.com/gGZ45460mu
— Everton (@Everton) February 3, 2022
Everton have endured a miserable season to date and have slipped to 16th in the table, just four points above the bottom three, having won just one of their last 14 league games.
Speaking at his first press conference in the job, Lampard said: “In pure footballing terms we know we are in a position the club doesn’t want to be in, but I have got a lot of belief in the squad.
“I have been watching the games closely from the outside, so I am under no illusions, but I believe we have a squad that can improve quickly.
“I understand in the short term the job is to improve our league position.
“In the long term, it is clear it is a club with big ambition, big history, a huge fanbase and a desire throughout to improve towards the new stadium and towards being a Premier League club fighting in the top half of the table.
“I would love to be part of that, but I cannot get too far ahead of myself. We have important jobs on our plate in the next two, three months. Then we can start dealing with what the future looks like.
“There is a lot of work to be done, but I am very proud to be given this opportunity to be at the front of it as the manager.”
The challenge facing him is different from that he was charged with in his last position at Stamford Bridge, which brought pressures at the opposite end of the table and in the Champions League.
The 43-year-old said: “I can assure fans I’ll give absolutely everything.
“You can say about Chelsea that I had some very good times there, but I’ve certainly had some difficult times.
“Before I went to Chelsea I played at West Ham. I managed at Derby County, where the Championship was a real marathon through the year, and you can have good periods and bad periods.
“I don’t concern myself about what position we are in the table. Of course you’re aware of it, but we will be defined this season in the next 18 games by the work and the focus we put in on the training ground, and by how we can be united between players, club and fans.”
𝐃 𝐄 𝐋 𝐄 😁👍 pic.twitter.com/ifqhag98vn
— Everton (@Everton) February 3, 2022
Lampard’s influence has already been evident in the deadline-day signings of Dele Alli and Donny Van De Beek, both highly-rated players who are hoping to kick-start their careers after stalling at Tottenham and Manchester United respectively.
The arrival of England international Alli on a permanent deal was particularly eye-catching.
“He’s a fantastic player,” said Lampard. “Maybe he’s had difficult times. I will make no bones about that – nor would he – but there can be so many reasons for that.
“My job now is to start with a fresh slate with him, to have him in an environment that suits him and supports him, and also pushes him to extract that player we just know is there.
“I’m very excited to have him and Donny. They are two fantastic players and hopefully give us a lift.”
Lampard is the seventh manager appointed by Everton in the six years of Farhad Moshiri’s ownership but that high turnover does not faze him.
He said: “This is the business that we live in and we work in. It’s not my job to analyse things that happened before me too much because you don’t know the circumstance.
“I have to put that to the side and just work and understand and actually appreciate the fact that I’m working for a great club and give it my all.”
Lampard has also confirmed Ashley Cole, his former Chelsea and England team-mate, will join his backroom staff as first-team coach.
The new boss also revealed striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin will miss Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Brentford with a “small knock”.