Frank Lampard has made Mason Holgate believe good times are imminent for Everton as they prepare to face West Ham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.
That may seem odd to some after just one win in their last five Premier League games and Everton just one place above the relegation zone, despite having games in hand over their rivals.
But the centre-back has no doubt that Lampard can help steer the club to safety this season and to new heights in the near future.
“We’re very confident to stay awake,” Holgate said. sky sports ahead of Sunday’s trip to West Ham. “I think the gaffer now and the team he’s brought in are amazing, I think everyone in the team thinks that too.
“I think it’s a tough situation he’s gotten into. But I think he’s a great manager, and I think we’re all going to benefit from him and as the season goes on everyone will. to see.
“We all have total faith, he goes into every detail and we know exactly what we need to do.”
Lampard’s “big impact” on Holgate
Holgate, in particular, has benefited from the arrival of Lampard. His place in the starting line-up and his confidence has been restored under the former Derby and Chelsea manager.
Lampard has started Holgate in nine of his 10 games in charge. But it was a completely different story under Rafael Benitez, who in his 23 games on Merseyside gave Holgate the same number of starts.
Holgate, who describes himself as a “ball-playing centre-half”, has also returned to his favored position under Lampard – often on the right of a back three – after being used as a utility player in recent seasons.
“He had a pretty big impact on me,” Holgate said of Lampard. “Just giving me the confidence to play is something huge for me personally.
“I think he and his team show me what I need to do and improve. I want to improve, I want to improve and I want to help the team as much as possible.
“Being in the squad and playing every week shows the trust he has in me, so I want to pay him back.”
Why Everton have ‘nothing to worry about’ at West Ham
Holgate is optimistic about the future at Everton under Lampard, but says ‘that’s not what this season is about’. He has no illusions about the situation in which they find themselves.
“We are in a relegation fight, that’s undeniable,” he said. “We know where we are now and we have 11 games to sort it out as a team.
“If I look at other teams that are going to be relegated, I think we have the quality to get out of the trouble we’re in.”
Of those 11 games, six come from Goodison Park. And it’s been a big problem for Everton to get results on the road this season – their last away win was at Brighton in August. No team in the league has accumulated fewer points on the road.
Holgate admits Everton’s poor away record is “a bit strange”, but refuses to give too much weight to the statistics. For the defender, the important thing is “to win games, no matter where they are”.
He also points out that it was only last year that he faced questions about Everton’s patchy form at home under Carlo Ancelotti. They lost 11 games at Goodison in all competitions that season, compared to four on the road.
Whatever the away form, Sunday’s game at West Ham, live on sky sportsis a huge test for Lampard’s team.
David Moyes, a former Everton manager, led West Ham to the last eight of the Europa League and kept them within touching distance of the top six with just eight games left in their league campaign.
The two teams are fighting for very different goals, but Holgate is adamant that the gap between the teams isn’t as big as the table seems to show.
“Yeah, they’ve been a really good team, there’s no hiding that,” Holgate said. “They have been a good team for a few years. They have built a very good team.
“But look at our team and I think if we’re all stealing there’s nothing to worry about. At the end of the day, we’re not doing it enough.”
Holgate on his few “difficult” years
As Holgate points out, the Everton side have underperformed this season. And the defender admits the 18 months before Lampard’s arrival were also difficult for him.
An injury at the start of last season disrupted a run that saw him establish himself as the starting centre-back under Ancelotti in the 2019/20 campaign, when he won player of the season and young player awards of the season.
Holgate would have been in line for his first England call-up that season before Covid hit, with Euro 2020 then postponed for a year.
“It was difficult, at the beginning there were injuries,” he says. “Then by the time I came back there were a lot of other injuries in the team so I was playing in a lot of different positions.
“I don’t think two games went by while I was playing in the same position.
“It’s positive in the aspect that the managers think I can play in these positions. But I won’t be able to play as well in other positions as in my position, playing week after week.
“And then Benitez came along, and I didn’t play at the start of this season, and there was nothing I could do about it. I just had to work hard and keep training.”
Now that he has found a regular place under Lampard, Holgate is positive about his form but feels being a defender in a struggling side makes him an easy target for criticism.
“I think from my personal point of view as a defender it’s difficult when the team isn’t doing well because it’s always your fault,” he said. “Anyway, when you go through the goals, there’s always somewhere down the line where it’s your fault.
“So people will say, ‘Oh, he’s not playing well’, whereas a few years ago we were doing well when I was in the team and we were winning games. All of a sudden that has the looks completely different.
“But from my point of view, I feel good and I’m playing games. I think once the team goes in the direction that everyone is convinced they will go, people will turn around and say “Oh, his form is back now. But I don’t think it’s because of that, it’s just that right now we’re all going through tough times.”
Everton in focus – but England not ruled out
“Let’s be honest, if a team is struggling the chances of being called up for England are slim anyway,” says Holgate, when asked if representing his country is still on his mind.
The 25-year-old is fully aware of the situation he finds himself in less than two years after being considered by England manager Gareth Southgate in his best season at Everton.
But his mind is elsewhere now. “Since I came back to the team, we’ve all been fighting for something,” he says. “Everton must be central to everyone in the team.
“I don’t think the time is right to think about England, I think next season or maybe the season after that when the club starts, that’s when I can start. to think a little more about these things.
“I’m confident in what we’re doing as a club, and I’m confident in the squad we have, and I’m sure the time will come. No one will rule out playing for England at 25 as a centre-back. .
“We are all fighting for a huge goal and once that happens next season I hope we start and the manager has a full season with all of us. And then I have total confidence in my ability that that will come.”
Watch West Ham vs Everton on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, from 1pm; kick off at 2 p.m.