On the eve of the 242nd Merseyside derby, Sky Sports News reporter Alan Myers reflects on Everton’s summer transfer activity and the Premier League season ahead.

Frank Lampard’s side climbed out of the bottom three courtesy of a 1-1 draw with Leeds on Tuesday, but remain winless after five matches.

The last time the club failed to win any of their opening five Premier League games was under David Moyes in the 2010/11 season, in which Everton would go on to finish seventh on 54 points.

It was during that campaign, in October 2010, when John W Henry’s reign as Liverpool owner got off to the worst possible start at Goodison Park as goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta secured a 2-0 win for Everton.

The result left Liverpool in the relegation zone and lifted Everton three points clear of them. It was the last time the club won a home Merseyside derby, some 12 years ago.

Sky Sports News reporter Alan Myers looks ahead to Everton’s latest attempt to end the hoodoo and reflects on Lampard’s first full summer at the club…

How would you assess the club’s summer business?

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Idrissa Gana Gueye says ‘it’s no better feeling coming home’ after the midfielder has signed a two-year contract to return to Everton from PSG

“Owner Farhad Moshiri said not too long ago that the club shouldn’t be judged until the transfer window was open and a lot of fans will do that now it’s closed.

“Apart from not getting in a second striker in addition to Neal Maupay, which I think many supporters thought would happen, it’s been quite a good window.

“There’s a real mixture of what the club needs, but the overriding comfort is that there seems to be a coherent structure now of doing transfers again whereas the last five years has felt a little bit like transfers and players could come from any direction.

“What you’ve got now at the club is a much more condensed operation with the manager, the director of football Kevin Thelwell and the chairman Bill Kenwright. It’s worked relatively well for Everton over the years but only in the last five years has that changed.

“The structure has now returned and I feel we’re now seeing the benefits of that with the type of signings which have been made this summer.”


‘Everton no longer buying to impress fans’

Anthony Gordon celebrates his goal with Amadou Onana
Amadou Onana, left, has arrived with plenty of promise

“The reason the club have changed their approach is twofold: One, the club no longer has the money to do the sorts of deals we’ve seen in the past.

“Also, I do feel Everton have bought players previously to impress the fans, and these are the wrong reasons for buying players. There should be a real reason and real deep thought about every single player you bring in – what can they offer and what are they like character-wise?

“How financially viable are they for the club? These questions have to be asked, and I’m not sure how often they’ve been asked in the last five years. Now, we’re asking those questions again and the structure now works well.

“Anthony Gordon stayed because the manager wanted him to. If the manager had expressed a different view, there might have been a different outcome there. But because the manager has said he wants that player, the structure is now in place to make that happen.

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James Garner revealed why Frank Lampard played an influential role in him joining Everton and why he has high hopes for his development at the club

“That can only be good, and when you look at the range of players they’ve bought, there’s a mixture of youth and experience. But the common denominator is a real hunger. For whatever reason, all of those players have a real hunger to play for Everton.

“They’ve replaced the profile of player such as James Rodriguez – highly-paid and a bit of a luxury the club couldn’t really afford – with players who are really experienced and can fill a really big gap in leadership as we’ve seen in James Tarkowski and Conor Coady.

“They’re really clever signings with a sprinkle of exciting youngsters in Amadou Onana and James Garner. Idrissa Gueye is someone who knows the club and what is required. It’s been a really good window apart from the lack of a second striker.


“In the end, Lampard wanted proven strikers at top-flight level, not necessarily Premier League but across the world. Near the end, they realised they weren’t going to get that which is why they then went in for (Blackburn’s) Ben Brereton Diaz as the next option.

“I could see the thinking but when you’re dealing with the Venky’s, you’re dealing with an owner who is very different to most Championship clubs. They don’t need the money and they’ll do what they want to do. I know that from personal experience!”

Was Barkley ever considered an option?

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Frank Lampard gives his thoughts on new Everton signings James Tarkowski, Conor Coady and Amadou Onana, with all three players having been described as leaders.

“My understanding is that there was never a second in the transfer window when Ross Barkley was ever considered. It isn’t so much a case now of the club listening to the fans, as much as simply doing what is right. The fans see what Lampard sees.

“The fans see what the chairman sees, in fairness, as far as which footballers are needed. Bill does have that experience of football, whereas the owner and people around him didn’t and haven’t – that is where the problems have come in the past.”

How important was it keeping hold of Gordon?


“I think it was very important. I think everyone accepted that Richarlison would go, with the World Cup coming up and it just felt like he’d been there a good few years and had given his all. He was popular with the fans, who understood he wanted to leave. There was an acceptance there.

“Selling Gordon would’ve been one step too far and it would’ve sent out the wrong message to the fans and to everyone. A lot of people from the outside look in on Everton without knowing a lot about what really is going on, and the true feeling of the fans.

“Those pundits will have seen the club selling presumably their best player after Richarlison, and it would’ve created a negative environment as if Everton were giving up. That would have at least been the impression, but the biggest reason for keeping hold of him was because the manager wanted to.

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Everton manager Frank Lampard said Anthony Gordon was ‘too important’ to the club for them to sell him during the summer transfer window

“We’ve had five years of these decisions being taken out of the manager’s hands. What the club have got now is joined-up thinking with these decisions. I’ve felt all summer that Gordon wouldn’t be leaving and Chelsea never came forward with a £60m bid.

“There were some suggestions a late bid came in but that also wasn’t true. What has pleased the fans the most has been the way he’s got on with the job, he’s said nothing, he’s dealt with it very professionally. My understanding is that he did express a view that he would’ve liked to have gone, but he’s stayed ultra-professional and scored two brilliant goals.

“I feel it will stand him in good stead whenever he plays for Everton moving forward as he’s respected the club, which is what you’d expect from a local lad but believe me there have been some local lads in the past who haven’t done that. I really feel now he’ll grow.”

Do the lack of goals still concern you?


“Only time will tell if there are enough goals in the squad, and until we start seeing more goal returns we can’t really answer that. But, what I would say is that one of the big issues for me over the last few years has been a lack of goals from midfield.

“It’s been the case for quite some time now, perhaps since the likes of Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman were in the side. In the great sides back in the ’80s, Everton had Kevin Sheedy, Paul Bracewell, Trevor Steven, Adrian Heath – they all scored goals!

“They are massive contributions over the course of the season to help a striker but in the last few seasons, all Everton have had is the striker. Even Leighton Baines was someone who would chip in with goals. Michael Keane has tried his best, but what I like is that I feel we now have players in midfield who will start scoring.


“I think Onana is someone who will be a threat in the box and Garner could well be the same. Spreading the goals around has to happen, and if Dominic Calvert-Lewin comes back and stays fit I don’t feel it will be such a problem.

“I’m yet to be convinced about Maupay. I feel he’s a good player who always gives everything when he goes out onto the pitch but I’d just like to see his conversion from chance-to-goal rate being a bit higher. That might happen as he will get different service at Everton.

“I’d have liked to have seen another striker, but I’m quite comfortable with the club having not taken the risk on someone who wasn’t the right type of player.”


Grounds for optimism heading into the derby?

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Leeds United and Everton

“Where don’t you look for a threat in this Liverpool team? It’s very difficult to play against them as they have a threat all over the pitch. Lampard could well go back to using wing-backs as he might want the three centre-backs.

“But I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen this season. There’s been a real desire in all the games with the players working hard. We didn’t see that at times before Lampard came in. It’s felt as if the team would be beaten, but I’ve not felt that in the games this season.

“I hate derbies and I’ve honestly never watched one full. Even when I worked for the club, I would never go to Anfield. I would send my assistant to do the game and when the game was at Goodison, I would walk outside on Goodison Road and listen for a cheer!

“The nerves just get to me, but what heartens me is that I don’t think there’s any chance of a rollover like we saw with Bournemouth losing 9-0 last weekend. This Everton just work so hard, and I don’t think the team will give Liverpool a second.

“I do worry about the threat up front, of course, but in terms of commitment and going toe-to-toe with Liverpool, I have absolutely no doubt that will happen on Saturday. I’m reasonably confident of matching them and seeing where it takes us.”

Everton’s eight new signings

Amadou Onana – Lille, £33.5m

Conor Coady – Wolves, loan

Ruben Vinagre – Sporting Lisbon, loan

James Tarkowski – Burnley, free

Dwight McNeil – Burnley, undisclosed

Neal Maupay – Brighton, undisclosed

Idrissa Gueye – Paris Saint-Germain, £8m

James Garner – Manchester United, £15m

Shape and system – what has Lampard said?

Everton have averaged 40 per cent possession - only Fulham (37 per cent) and Bournemouth (35 per cent) have managed less
Everton have averaged 40 per cent possession – only Fulham (37 per cent) and Bournemouth (35 per cent) have managed less

Frank Lampard opted to revert to a 4-3-3 formation in the midweek draw at Leeds having used a back three in Everton’s opening four Premier League fixtures.

Mason Holgate sustained a knee injury against Brentford, but the Blues boss said it was a tactical decision to change system.

“It wasn’t circumstance, it was more with a view on the game,” Lampard said after moving to a back four.

“We want to build a squad here where we can be a bit versatile and change at different times.

“Different teams offer a different threat. To play a back three and two in midfield would have left us short centrally so we had to look at how we could get more pressure on the ball by having an extra man forward.

skysports everton premier league 5884532

skysports everton premier league 5884531

“I felt it helped us, so we have those options to look at moving forward in the season. We’re proving ourselves to be hard to beat.

“I know we’ve haven’t won yet, but it’s not easy to play through us. The next step is whether we can be a bit more in control of possession, but we have to start from the back and from the bottom after what happened last season.”

Follow Everton vs Liverpool in our dedicated live match blog on Saturday from 11am; kick-off 12.30pm. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel from 5.15pm.

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