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Joleon Lescott column: I hope the Toffees can escape a sticky situation
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Joleon Lescott

Everton go to West Ham on Sunday in the first of 11 enormous games for my former club in their battle against the drop.

Although Frank Lampard finds himself in a difficult situation at Goodison Park, I guarantee you there won’t be a single day he regrets taking the job.

It’s such a massive club with amazing support. The potential is always going to be huge and I think most managers would struggle to turn Everton down, regardless of their recent struggles.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely challenging. Frank is a young manager who will have his own ideas and philosophies that he’s keen to implement. 

However, right now he just needs to grind out points by any means necessary. Everything needs to be focused on results for the next few weeks.

Should they manage to stay up, lessons need to be learned at board level from what has been a disastrous campaign.

These troubles are certainly not down to a lack of investment. 

Everton have only won three of their last 21 Premier League fixtures
Everton have only won three of their last 21 Premier League fixtures

Owner Farhad Moshiri clearly means well and wants success but hasn’t found the right process for making key decisions.

When I joined Manchester City, they were trying to make that transition into a top side and one of the most important things they did was implement a proper structure from top to bottom.

People were brought in at positions they had vast experience in and were given the freedom and trust to execute their roles without interference.

Throwing lots of money around in football is not a guarantee of success. Unfortunately, Everton have found that out the hard way.

I still firmly believe the Toffees will stay up. But when you look at the fixtures of the sides at the bottom, their run-in is arguably the hardest of the lot.

They’ve still got to play several of the so-called top teams, which makes Wednesday’s trip to Burnley even more vital. 

But ultimately, they still have control of their own destiny.

Erik an interesting runner

Manchester United host Leicester on Saturday evening and a recent comment from Louis van Gaal made me chuckle.

The former Red Devils boss suggested Erik ten Hag would be better off turning down the Old Trafford job — but I think even Van Gaal would snap your hand off to return tomorrow!

It’s still one of the biggest jobs in world football. Plus, for all their recent failures, I think United know this is an appointment they have to get right.

The next man in needs to be given investment, trust and patience to get things moving in the right direction again.

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is the current favourite to become Manchester United's next manager
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag is the current favourite to become Manchester United's next manager

Ten Hag is certainly an interesting candidate. He’d be coming from a club in Ajax where the expectation is to win every single week, so you know he can deal with that pressure.

Also, if you look at the three teams leading the way in English football — Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea — they are managed by fantastic tacticians.

By all accounts, Ten Hag has forged a reputation as an outstanding coach and would arrive with a clear vision of how he wants his side to play, which has been lacking for too long at United.

He also has an aura about him, so I can see the appeal. The main question is whether he can handle what would be a huge step up across the board.

Would he command the respect of those players in the Manchester United dressing room? There are some huge egos in there and you need 100% buy-in as a new boss.

Winning the Eredivisie is not going to translate to him coming across and winning Premier League titles straight away. It would be about progress and closing the gap as much as possible.

If he is the chosen one, it’ll be fascinating to see what happens in the summer.

Joleon Lescott’s Premier League Matchday 31 predictions

Liverpool vs Watford (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)

Liverpool will look to take care of Watford ahead of next weekend's title showdown with Manchester City
Liverpool will look to take care of Watford ahead of next weekend's title showdown with Manchester City

Liverpool’s clash with City next weekend should be a classic but they need to take care of business here first. A comfortable victory will allow them to head to the Etihad with confidence and momentum.

Prediction: Home win

Brighton vs Norwich (Saturday, 3pm)

I’m not so sure about this one as both teams are bang out of form. While Brighton have the superior quality at their best, you can’t count on them to produce that level.

Prediction: Draw

Burnley vs Manchester City (Saturday, 3pm)

City have a fine record at home against the Clarets but going to Turf Moor is generally a bit trickier. I’m not anticipating a wide margin of victory but they’ll be focused and should prevail.

Prediction: Away win

Chelsea vs Brentford (Saturday, 3pm)

Sometimes adversity off the pitch can bring players closer on it and I think that’s what’s happening at Chelsea. The Blues are going about their business with minimal fuss and should dispatch Brentford.

Prediction: Home win

Leeds vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)

Jesse Marsch and Leeds picked up a vital 3-2 win at Wolves prior to the international break
Jesse Marsch and Leeds picked up a vital 3-2 win at Wolves prior to the international break

Fair play to Leeds — that comeback at Wolves was massive for them. They probably only need a couple of wins to be safe now but Southampton may take advantage of their open style of play.

Prediction: Away win

Wolves vs Aston Villa (Saturday, 3pm)

Wolves made mistakes I haven’t seen them make all season against Leeds. Hopefully for their sake that was just a bad day at the office. This will be a close, feisty game but I’ll edge for a narrow home win.

Prediction: Home win

Manchester United vs Leicester (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)

Many will be expecting a United win here but I’m not so sure. Brendan Rodgers was linked with the job at Old Trafford previously and may feel he has a point to prove having barely been mentioned this time around.

Prediction: Draw

West Ham vs Everton (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports)

There’s an element of realism creeping in at West Ham about their top-four hopes but I still expect them to have too much for Everton. Confidence levels between these two sides are so contrasting currently.

Prediction: Home win

Tottenham vs Newcastle (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports)

Newcastle have done what they had to do with that good run after Christmas. They’re capable of causing an inconsistent Tottenham side problems but Antonio Conte will surely have his men fired up for a huge run-in. 

Prediction: Home win

Crystal Palace vs Arsenal (Monday, 8pm, Sky Sports)

Palace have had key players away with England but I think that will only fill Conor Gallagher, Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell with even more confidence. This is a tough trip for Arsenal and my heart says an upset may be on the cards.

Prediction: Home win

Joleon Lescott was speaking to Matthew Hill


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