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‘Viva Lampard’ Ignoring fan opposition and appointing Vitor Pereira could push Everton over the edge

Pereira Out, Lampard In’ was a blunt sentiment with one caveat: Vitor Pereira, a Portuguese coach last working at Fenerbahce before his sacking last month, has not yet been appointed.

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Frank Lampard would be a popular choice with the Everton fans. Photo by Lee Smith

Frank Lampard would be a popular choice with the Everton fans. Photo by Lee Smith

Frank Lampard would be a popular choice with the Everton fans. Photo by Lee Smith

An unlikely touchstone for a famous club’s fanbase at breaking point, but that is where Frank Lampard found himself yesterday morning, his name scrawled upon the wall of Goodison Park like some overnight graffiti that prefaces the first tremor of revolution – ‘Viva Lampard!’

It was a simple message to the controlling powers of Everton, ostensibly the owner Farhad Moshiri but also his business partner Alisher Usmanov and adviser Kia Joorabchian.

‘Pereira Out, Lampard In’ was a blunt sentiment with one caveat: Vitor Pereira, a Portuguese coach last working at Fenerbahce before his sacking last month, has not yet been appointed.

Well-sourced reports on Tuesday night suggested he was Moshiri’s preferred candidate and Pereira is understood to be in London, but the state of the appointment is in flux.

Certainly, no club ignores the strong sentiment of their supporters without good reason. When Tottenham fans called for the termination of Nuno Espirito Santo’s contract at the home game against Manchester United, and followed it up with a similar request for the chairman Daniel Levy, it was Nuno who paid with his job one day later.

Sacking Pereira would be the cheapest crowd-pleasing move yet deployed in the Premier League this season: he had not even signed a contract at the time of writing.

There may not be enough wall space around Goodison to accommodate all the misgivings Everton fans have about their club.

The ownership have spent around £500 million (€600m) for the privilege of sitting four points above the relegation zone, and an Everton relegation would not just be any relegation. It would be the end of 68 unbroken years of top-flight football, a record that stands second only to Arsenal.

While Everton would doubtless trade more titles for one ignominious second-division season, that offer is not available. Instead, their longevity means something: a precious historic thread. A basic standard amid the decades of tumult and upheaval at other clubs.

Tumult is what they have now. Appointing Pereira in the face of this opposition would be absurd. What little Everton have in their favour is a home ground that can be a difficult place for opponents to play.

No club of any ambition wants to rely upon being carried aloft by their home support, but that does not feel like an asset Everton can afford to lose. Duncan Ferguson may have lost his first game back as caretaker manager, against Aston Villa last Saturday, but it was by no means an abject performance.

Lampard (left) and Wayne Rooney were both sounded out for the job. Both men come with drawbacks, but one might add there are no perfect options at this point of the Everton story arc.

Pereira has won league titles at Porto and Olympiakos – both traditionally dominant teams in their domestic games. He failed to save TSV 1860 Munich in a relegation battle in 2017. In summary, this is not a no-brainer of an appointment. This is not Jurgen Klopp, briefly available and looking for a new job in 2015, a window of opportunity that prompted Liverpool to sack Brendan Rodgers and create a vacancy.

The storm that has followed Pereira to north Liverpool is not of his own making, although his attempts to defuse it with an interview on Sky Sports News felt like the actions of a man who has spent too long alone in his hotel room watching 24-hour news channels.

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Lampard is available and comes with Premier League experience. Rooney has battled admirably at Derby County, the boy who has been famous his whole adult life demonstrating a maturity that had looked beyond him at times. Even Ferguson could galvanise something. All of them are better options than Pereira.

One thing Everton cannot carry is a rupture between the Goodison support and a new manager.

Meanwhile, across the city at the former Unesco World Heritage Site, the Bramley Moore dock is full of sand from the Irish Sea and ready for the construction of the club’s new home.

The departure from a beloved old stadium is never simple and the shock waves – financial, cultural – can continue for years. The likes of Arsenal, West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur have, to different degrees, accepted the reality of it but railed against the consequences.

This is not a new phenomenon. When Manchester United relocated to Old Trafford in 1910 from Bank Street in Clayton in east Manchester, at that time no professional club had moved further from their original home.

By 1932 the club had plummeting gates and bankruptcy loomed.

Which is to say that when taking on a move of that significance, fans need to know that the club are in good hands, that the big picture, those decisions that have implications for years to come, have been carefully weighed.

As things stand, Everton fans do not trust the club to pick a new manager.

The prospect of relegation, a confusion over who makes the big calls – it is hard to have any clear answers.

As Everton prepare to build the new £500m (€600m) home by the Mersey, it is the 130-year-old walls of Goodison that bear a sentiment the club ignore at their peril. (© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2022)


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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]


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