Frank Lampard has acknowledged the “extraordinary” support Everton have received from their fans since he took over as the club’s manager.
The Toffees have hit a purple patch of form as they fight for Premier League survival, and have knocked off Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester in recent games to climb out of the relegation zone.
A point at Watford last time out made it seven points from a possible nine for Everton, who now sit two points ahead of Leeds with three games of the season remaining – crucially that’s one more than Jesse Marsch’s side, who currently sit 18th.
Everton welcome Brentford to Goodison Park on Sunday knowing a win would edge them even closer to safety, and they’re guaranteed to be backed by a capacity crowd who have really taken to Lampard since he succeeded Rafa Benitez in the dugout.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the game, Lampard talked at length about the passion Everton’s supporters have shown since he took charge, and elaborated on the intense pressure that comes with managing a relegation battle.
On Everton’s supporters as a whole
“I was aware [of the fanbase] when I came here – I knew the club’s history.
“Playing against Everton as a player, it was always a difficult place to come. I knew that this is a region of the country where football is life for people.
“So, I understood that. But to feel it first hand, it’s been extraordinary. The backing of the fans in this moment has played a huge part. It can’t help but endear you to the club and take it into your heart. It drags you in and you want to do it for them, to a big degree.”
On the pressure of fighting relegation
“From my experience, this is the most intense pressure you can get. I’ve played at the top end, I’ve managed in and around the top end, but the threat of relegation to a club is such a huge deal.
“What it means to the club, to the fans, to the people who work here at the club and the people who care about the club. You feel that responsibility as the manager.
“The fans are due their grievances. When you ask them to love a club so much, you can’t then ask them to not have an opinion. But what I have seen is how much of a positive impact they can have on us. It certainly helps the players.
“You’ve seen the team grow in a short time with that backing. So let’s hope we can keep that together. I’m not asking for anything as a written rule but if we can keep that together it shows how strong we are.”
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On the fans embracing Everton’s style of play
“I am very happy to hear how they [the fans] want this team to play. I think you have to tap into that and give the fans a team they want to support and are a reflection of how they feel.
“Everton, particularly, is a club that demands passion, drive, sprints, tackles and fighting for the badge. We have to deliver that.”
On Everton’s recent resurgence
“It’s credit to everyone that we’ve got ourselves in the position we are now from that moment [against Burnley]. Because there’s no doubt it was a tough night.
“The players have now found a growth in their own confidence. I came into the club off the back of some difficult results, that’s why I’m here I suppose.
“We’ve been working against that, developing the team’s confidence. When you come in mid-season, you must learn very quickly about your players.”