Everton have endured a wretched Premier League season in which they’ve been involved in an unfamiliar relegation battle – but with games in hand they own their own destiny
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Frank Lampard believes the stakes are far higher in Everton’s desperate relegation battle, than for any of his title triumphs.
The Everton boss admits openly that there have been a couple of times in recent months “when sitting on my arse, and doing the bins” seemed like an attractive option. Yet he says the consuming nature of trying to ensure the Blues survival, with the sheer enormity of that so apparent – all the pressure which goes with it – is inspiring and energising him.
Asked as his side stand a single point above the drop zone with just four games left, if the easier option would have been to wait for a job with less stress, he said: “Yeah, possibly I could have waited. I could have sat on my arse and done the bins at home….that has actually seemed quite appealing a couple times in the last few months!
“From a personal level, when you live this experience of a relegation battle it so consumes you, and you so want to do the right thing because you understand what the stakes are. The stakes for this are bigger for me now than when I won the Premier League as a player, because of what it means to the club.”
Everton visit Watford on Wednesday knowing that defeat could plunge them right back deep into the mire, with little time to claw their way out of it. And for Lampard, it is the thought of the lives who depend on him, his staff and his players, from fans to the thousands of people employed by the club, which makes it so massive.
“You know the economics of it are greater than winning the title as well, to a different degree, and individually you think about that,” he added. It’s the idea of what it means to the fans and the people who work here. It’s so important, and so there shouldn’t be any way with four games to go and one point out of the relegation zone, you think we are fine.
“We have spent the last two or three months with those (intense) feelings of what it means, so you can’t treat it like that now, and I have to ensure we understand that.” For all the pressure, Lampard is adamant he is enjoying the job, and learning so much as he fights for survival.
Everton have produced a dramatic transformation in their last two matches, beating Chelsea and Leicester – the latter the first away win for the Goodison club since August. And the former Chelsea boss said: “In this position, the players are questioned, the club is questioned, I’m questioned. And that’s the cutting edge part of the job.
“So I’m having an incredible experience – again I am not talking like it is done, we are in it still, but the idea of coming here and people wanting to challenge me, it’s a real motivation. It’s been an incredible challenge in a good way, which I’ve really enjoyed and will clearly be valuable if we can get to where we want to be.”
Everton are without the again injured Yerry Mina, but both Ben Godfrey and Donny van der Beek could return at the weekend.