Frank Lampard: ‘Understandable that people think Everton is in relegation battle’

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Everton manager Frank Lampard says he understands why his team is being tipped for relegation but has vowed to banish the pessimism engulfing Goodison Park ahead of Saturday’s opening game against Chelsea.

Everton narrowly avoided a place in the championship by winning their penultimate game of last season. Richarlison has since been sold to Tottenham Hotspur and Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been injured, so with Salomon Rondon suspended, Lampard has no recognized striker.

Lampard says he will need to bolster the squad before the transfer window closes after signing James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil from Burnley and Ruben Vinagre on loan from Sporting Lisbon. But he says negative reviews will serve as motivation.

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“I don’t mind, I know it’s there in certain places,” he said. “When you come out of a relegation battle and you lose a player of great value to the team on the pitch, I think that’s understandable. What we’ve done is bring in three players which I’m very happy with, but I understand when people say we’re probably going to fight again That’s no problem.

“Any trepidation from the outside is fine. For Evertonians, I’d say let’s see what we’re going to do. Let’s see how well we stack up against Chelsea. And when the window closes, let’s see what it looks like.”

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Despite gloomy forecasts from pundits – and the section of Everton fans who protested Goodison’s governance – Lampard believes his team could be a surprise package. He tries to cultivate a sense of togetherness to recreate the spirit that held the side up.

“If you look at a team like West Ham two years ago, they saved themselves from relegation and two or three years later they were in a European semi-final,” he said.

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“There are a lot of stories about differences you can make and the team in terms of how you work, in terms of the club as a whole and in terms of the people you bring in who are crucial to that. If we can improve the squad, that’s our duty, so we have to be positive.

“I have a good relationship with people above me and that’s very important. I understand the responsibility and I feel it is a good challenge and I am in a good place to do it. But I have to go out to do it.”

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