Frank Lampard insisted he would go back to the drawing board, get on his knees in training and that the World Cup break was the perfect time for cooler heads to prevail at Everton.
It all felt a bit like the captain of the Titanic was announcing plans for his new lounger arrangement.
The truth is that Lampard is now under enormous pressure, Everton are sinking and their dismal form is so bad that the goodwill he gathered from fans last season in their struggle for survival has evaporated.
Frank Lampard’s Everton was comfortably beaten by Bournemouth on Saturday
Fans reacted angrily to the final whistle and appear to be losing faith in Lampard
That was evident in the end’s furious reaction to their second thrashing by Bournemouth in the space of five days, as Marcus Tavernier, Kieffer Moore and Jaidon Anthony lifted last week’s aggregate score to 7-1 in favor of the Cherries. .
Worse for Lampard, the notoriously trigger-happy Farhad Moshiri now has six weeks to make a board change. But Lampard insisted: “This is a long season, we’re 15 games into it and it’s not the worst thing for all of us to take stock and get away from it a bit.
“It would have been really nice to start off on a positive note, but we’ve got a lot more games to think about.
“It’s a good time to reflect on what’s been good and what’s not so good, where we want to go and how we’re going to get there. It is an opportunity to gain some clarity on those points.’
Unfortunately for Lampard, reflecting on what hasn’t been so good can take up most of the next month and a half.
His side struggles to score goals – they have 11 of 15 league appearances this season – and if they fall behind it is almost always game over. Despite having won first in all competitions in nine games, they have fought back for a result in only two of them.
Farhad Moshiri (L) has not shown much patience with managers during his ownership
The solidity at the start of the season that accompanied the arrivals of James Tarkowski and Conor Coady in the summer is now also gone, although those interested in underlying data won’t be surprised.
The impressive form of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has resulted in Everton conceding eight goals less than their ‘expected goals against’ – the biggest difference in the division. Pickford, however, had a big mistake for the first of three goals on Saturday, a worrying sign for Gareth Southgate on the eve of Qatar when he fiddled with an easy save on Tavernier.
Lampard tried to allay any World Cup fears by saying: “Jordan is amazing and he’s made incredible saves for us since I’ve been here. There’s a reason Gareth and I trust him so much.”
He was also philosophical about his own team’s alarming drop to just one point above the bottom three.
“Last year we were in a relegation battle for a reason,” said Lampard. “Perhaps a transfer window where we lost a great player (Richarlison, to Tottenham) will not put us in the position where we are now. That’s not how the Premier League works.
Lampard must now hope he gets time to turn the tide after the World Cup
“Everything I read before the season was, ‘Everton is in this fight.’ I was a favorite to be fired first – five managers have now left – but that’s the nature of the beast. We have to keep working because the picture is changing fast. Two weeks ago they were talking about the top half.
“When you do this job, you have to be prepared for anything. When you win it makes you feel good, you go out to dinner and you are happy. You don’t make a loss, you stay inside.’
Bad news for the Merseyside restaurant industry. Lampard has won just 27 percent of his 33 Premier League matches.
This last loss was as emphatic as any of them. Bournemouth was excellent, married grit and trickery and deserved their win.
Gary O’Neil’s time as interim boss at Bournemouth appears to be over after Saturday’s win
If Lampard is on his way out, Marcelo Bielsa appears to be heading in on the south coast. That’s no small matter for agent Gary O’Neil, who over the past three months has made his reputation the world by taking Bournemouth from the bottom up to the middle ground.
O’Neil hinted that his time at the club was over on Saturday and Bielsa’s appointment would receive his approval. He said: “I don’t want to comment on things that have not yet been confirmed by the club. I am in constant conversation with them.
“I have enormous respect for Marcelo Bielsa, what he has achieved, his reputation and the work he has done. If he came to Bournemouth I’m sure he would do a great job.
“The noise must be about the boys. I am comfortable with where I am, I am in control of my future. You live and die by the decisions you make.’
A message that may have resonated on Merseyside.
BOURNEMOUTH (4-2-3-1): Travers 6.5; Smith 7.5, Stephens 7, Senesi 6.5, Zemura 7.5; Boil 6.5, Lerma 7; TAVERNIER 8.5 (Christie 80), Solanke 8, Billing 7.5 (Pearson 88); Moore 7.5 (Anthony 68, 7.5).
Scorers: Tavernier 18, Moore 25, Anthony 69.
Booked: Senesi, Cook.
Manager: Gary O’Neil 8.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Pickford 5; Patterson 5.5, Tarkowski 6, Coady 6, Mykolenko 6 (Coleman 29, 6); Gueye 5.5, Onana 6 (Doucoure 75, 6); McNeil 5 (Gordon 75, 6), Iwobi 5.5, Gray 5; Maupay 5.5 (Cannon 74, 6.5).
Manager: Frank Lampard4.
Referee: Craig Pawson 6.