By George Overhill

27th Apr, 2022 | 12:40pm

AS in Spain slams Everton as 'in decline' without Rafael Benitez

Everton are “in decline” with Frank Lampard and no longer have Rafael Benitez “to save them” from relegation, according to AS in Spain.

Following defeat in the Merseyside derby the Toffees now sit in the relegation zone, two points behind a resurgent Burnley side but with a game in hand.

When the former Liverpool boss was sacked the team were 16th and six points above the bottom three, and Aritz Gabilondo has fought Benitez’s corner in Spain, suggesting the club have got worse in the mean time.

The report in AS claims it was a “striking” decision to get rid of the former manager and that “time confirms it”, while dismissing the impact of the new manager’s January signings.

It says: “Not only has Everton not improved under Lampard, but the poor run of results is making relegation a very real option. Not even the good signings made in the winter market -Dele Alli and [Donny] Van de Beek, mainly- have helped the team to react. Those good signings that Benítez could not count on have contributed very little.

“Now the ghost of Championship hangs over [them]. And Rafa is no longer there to save [them], but Lampard.”

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Committed defence

There might be an argument that the former Chelsea manager and the pair of midfield arrivals were the wrong choices for the struggling Toffees.

But the argument that Benitez was the answer rather glosses over a lot of his own failings.

Even the defeat to bottom side Norwich, which is mentioned as the precursor to his sacking, is not given the significance it surely warrants.

Losing to the worst team in the league will get you fired even if you aren’t already unpopular enough to see in-game protests from fans like Benitez did, as Sean Dyche can attest to at Burnley.

Maybe the Spaniard could have been moderately successful at the club were it not for his past links to Anfield, but since that past was always going to be there it was a bad decision to appoint him in the first place.

Having been backed against the likes of Marcel Brands and Lucas Digne, arguably to the detriment of the club, the decision to then sack him made a mockery of the previous support.

As such, a figure like the ex-Newcastle manager probably has carried the can for a lot of the blame that owner Farhad Moshiri deserves, although he himself has hardly escaped anger.

Lampard will also point to a number of highly contentious refereeing decisions during his time in charge as mitigation.

But whether you have a interest in defending or attacking either manager, neither of them, nor van de Beek and Dele have exactly been roaring successes.

In a disastrous season all that can be hoped for now is that the Toffees can scrape safety and the inquest can begin, because there is very little positive to be taken.

In other Everton news, one talkSPORT pundit wants the club to go down because it would be “funny”.

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