Manchester United vs Everton preview – Rooney watches on with interest amid Lampard sack talk
The bookmakers have made their minds up. They firmly believe the next Premier League manager to lose his job will be the beleaguered Everton boss Frank Lampard.
The former Derby and Chelsea manager came out fighting following his team’s 4-1 home defeat by Brighton in midweek, during which choruses of boos regularly rang out around Goodison Park. Afterwards, Lampard vowed to turn the Toffees’ fortunes around, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll get the time.
“I’ve never and would never seek reassurances,” said Lampard.
“It’s my job to focus on the job in hand, day-to-day, game-to-game. I’m not hunting around for any reassurances. I’m a big man working for a great club and I’ll keep doing it.”
Most bookies are offering odds as short as 1/4 for Lampard to be the next Premier League boss to receive their marching orders. Former Everton boss David Moyes is next in the frame at 6/1 amid West Ham’s current sticky patch of form, and it’s another Everton legend who many are tipping to take over in Merseyside – in the shape of Wayne Rooney.
Rooney, like Lampard, is an ex Derby County boss with plenty of credit in the bank for the way he fought manfully at the cash-strapped former Championship side, battling relegation despite a huge points deduction.
He’s been in charge of DC United in the MLS since July but at 5/2 to take over from Lampard, the bookies clearly believe he can be persuaded back to these shores. His boyhood Blues and a Premier League role would have serious pulling power.
It’s also ironic that Everton come up against the other club at which Rooney is deified, in Manchester United in the FA Cup third round this Friday night. United are on a roll right now; their plight is very different from when Rooney was being linked with the Old Trafford job himself around a year ago. Erik ten Hag has masterminded a major overhaul at United and they are on a run of six successive wins, they haven’t conceded a goal since the World Cup break and they’ve lost just once in their past 16 games.
United have gradually introduced their World Cup stars back into the side in the past few games, with Lisandro Martinez, Diogo Dalot and Raphael Varane all rested from the start during the 3-0 win over Bournemouth. That trio, plus the influential Antony, could return on Friday night to further strengthen the Red Devils.
It really doesn’t bode well for Lampard, then, although he might view the cup as an opportunity to be free of the league’s shackles and encourage his players to express themselves.
The real question is; who Rooney will be supporting? He once wore a t-shirt that said ‘once a blue, always a blue’ – only to move to United not long after. It could be that his allegiances are in Manchester, for the time being, if a job in Merseyside is on the cards. Lampard will hope otherwise.