Frank Lampard has his personalised apology from referees’ boss Mike Riley.
He can even wave it in front of the fans Neville Chamberlain-style before Sunday’s home match against Wolves for all it is worth.
As Everton are pulled into an increasingly worrying fight against relegation from the Premier League, the club is resorting to increasingly desperate measures to pass the buck.
Lampard had a point with a rant about the clear handball by Manchester City midfielder Rodri a fortnight ago. Match ref Paul Tierney made an enormous mistake because the player did touch the ball with his shoulder in his own penalty box.
VAR let them down further as they had watched the incident several times over on replay. It was a prize cock up. And Lampard’s cheeky comment that ‘my three year old daughter could have spotted that’ was straight out of his uncle Harry Redknapp’s book of sarcastic barbs that carry a strong message through humour.
Yet you have to wonder what his little girl would have made of Monday’s shambles at Tottenham?
Nobody other than Lampard and his massively underperforming players was at fault for that horror show. Losing 5-0 against a Spurs team that changes form with the wind has got to be one of the biggest mistakes of the season.
So where’s the apology to the Everton supporters who travelled to London on a weeknight in vain hope of seeing their team put up something of a fight? To paraphrase Lampard, his three year old daughter could have done better in defence.
It’s one thing to play badly and lose as Everton did very well at Spurs. It’s quite another to lose then pin the blame on somebody else.
I assume the demand for the referees association to say sorry over the missed Rodri handball was not Lampard’s idea. Having known him since he emerged from the youth team ranks at West Ham, he has always possessed a little touch of class that would keep him from embarrassing, attention-seeking acts like this.
Now the whole episode just looks worse for Everton because if their 68 year stint in the English top flight is coming to an end, they will go down lacking class as well as points.
There are times when relegation can be a good thing to cleanse a club from top to bottom. The fear of the drop is worse than the event itself. Life goes on, players leave and players arrive. A stint in the no-frills Championship can be a worthwhile grounding experience from which clubs bounce back with a more focussed, energetic and less complacency.
At least that was the case in the pre-Premier League days when the gulf in money between the top two divisions was not so vast as it is now. It would probably be a disaster with an owner harbouring fanciful ideas of building a new ground on the Mersey dockside to finally try to take on the dominance of Liverpool in the city.
Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and keeper Jordan Pickford would be the first to upsticks and leave. The spine of the team ripped out in one fell swoop. But Everton could live without them.
Like at most relatively unsuccessful teams, Everton supporters love to see a youth team kid come through. The latest is exciting forward Anthony Gordon, singled out by Lampard as the only player worth the shirt at Tottenham on Monday.
Lampard has no history of getting teams promoted, the opposite in fact. He failed to get Derby into the Premier League while manager and the once-English champions are now in total disarray.
But he knows a good kid when he sees one and building a team around a nucleus of home grown talent is his real expertise. You don’t have to look far back in time to see how effective he was at Chelsea, bringing through players like Mason Mount and Reece James in particular.
They are players that Chelsea will rely on more and more in the future with their own problems.
Lampard needs a minor miracle to keep Everton up this season and then enough time to develop a youthful team with ambition, talent and a real belief in what their club stands for. And it should not be shoehorning apologies out of scapegoat referees to make up for their own failings.
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