TOUGH TIMES

Gerrard ‘puts his stamp’ on Villa but is pressure already on Lampard?

Everton fans will not accept another season of struggle and that means the pressure will be on the former Derby and Chelsea boss to get that first victory as soon as possible.

In Summary

• But for both, the picture will be far bigger than that. It may only be two games into the season but there is a sense that Lampard and Gerrard have plenty to prove as they look to establish themselves as Premier League managers.

• “Everton need a striker, a focal point,” said former Everton defender Ashley Williams. “They need someone to shoulder the burden of scoring goals in that team. “The performance last weekend was OK, but today they weren’t as good.”

Everton manager Frank Lampard during a past match
Everton manager Frank Lampard during a past match
Image: FILE

The narrative in the run-up to Aston Villa’s game against Everton was about Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, midfield rivals as players, facing each other as managers for the first time.

But for both, the picture will be far bigger than that. It may only be two games into the season but there is a sense that Lampard and Gerrard have plenty to prove as they look to establish themselves as Premier League managers.

Beforehand, the pressure was arguably greater on Gerrard. Last season ended disappointingly with just two wins from Villa’s final 10 games and this season got off to an equally poor start with a loss at Bournemouth.

He had also made the big call to replace Tyrone Mings as captain with John McGinn, while his decision not to start the defender against the Cherries raised eyebrows.

Tyrone Mings started his first game of the season after he was on the bench against Bournemouth in Aston Villa’s Premier League opener.

A bold decision - but one that appears to have been vindicated as Mings returned to the starting XI against Everton and put in an assured performance that included a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Salomon Rondon an equaliser in the final seconds of the 2-1 win.

“It is important for me to say that we made a decision to change the captain, and I made that decision because I wanted my own stamp on that position,” said Gerrard after the game.

“No-one has taken Tyrone Mings out of the team. He was injured last week, he came back, trained really well and was really good today. Credit to him.”

Villa really should have won by a bigger margin but three points provide a positive platform for them to build on following some criticism of their previous displays.

“I think we deserved the external criticism,” added Gerrard. “I don’t think our level of performance was where we needed to be last week but we stayed calm and used the week to prepare the best we can.

“I think this was one of our strongest performances in terms of control and positional play. We looked really dangerous.”

While Villa are up and running, the wait for a win goes on for Lampard. Everton fans will not accept another season of struggle and that means the pressure will be on the former Derby and Chelsea boss to get that first victory as soon as possible.

“For Frank Lampard, the story switches to him now,” ex-England and Arsenal defender Martin Keown said. “They have Nottingham Forest coming up. There’s a lot of pressure building very early in the new season.”

Key to their problems is the lack of a striker. Anthony Gordon, naturally a winger, has started the past two games as a makeshift striker and while he has worked hard the result is that after two games Everton have scored just once and that was an own goal.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still a couple of weeks away from returning from injury, meaning Lampard will probably have to bring someone in before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

“Everton need a striker, a focal point,” said former Everton defender Ashley Williams. “They need someone to shoulder the burden of scoring goals in that team. “The performance last weekend was OK, but today they weren’t as good.”

There are bright spots, however, with James Tarkowski and Conor Coady looking good additions in defence, while 20-year-old right-back Nathan Patterson, who made his debut against Chelsea, has been a real positive.

“I thought there was some good and bad in the performance,” said Lampard. “It was a pretty even game other than the transition goals that we gave away.

“It’s a similar feeling to last week but some things are understandable - new players in the team, the injuries we’ve taken in - so we have to be a bit patient.”

After guiding Everton to safety last season Lampard has earned time to make his mark this season but patience in football can be quick to run out.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star