Frank Lampard believes he will take a fresh and confident Everton team into battle against Chelsea at Goodison Park on Saturday, as he underlined the importance of retaining the “unified feeling” at the Club from the end of the last campaign.
Boss Lampard, who was speaking at his pre-match press conference at Goodison Park, also explained the Club has a clear plan regarding the areas of the squad they would like to strengthen in the summer transfer window.
Lampard says Everton must blend quality, spirit and desire if they are to get their 2022/23 Premier League campaign off to a winning start against a high-calibre Chelsea outfit.
The Blues boss believes his players are approaching the game with a positive mindset, as he outlined the collective hunger within the Club to take significant strides forward from last season.
“It’s nice to have a relative clean slate at the start of the season – I never felt that we had that in my period at the Club,” said Lampard.
“That is important, because it should hopefully give us a fresh idea and feeling of confidence.
“We are all level, while at times last year it felt like we were chasing, especially if you’re five points from safety [before the 1-0 win against Chelsea on 1 May]. That’s something we overcame and that’s testament to the group of players we have, the Club and fans.
“There are still things I want us to do going forward to try to make us play more the way I want us to play – to be more consistent in what we can deliver. That will be a mixture of work [on the training pitch] and the players we can hopefully strengthen the squad with.
“We are working on and off the pitch and trying to improve the Club in any way possible. There are a lot of good people at the Club that are really working in a good direction.
“We have to get the culture right and move forward. We have to keep this unified feeling we have.
“I was proud to be part of it in the last weeks of last season – when Everton was a club from top to bottom [that was together], starting with every fan who stood outside the ground to welcome the team two hours before our games.
"That [unity] is such an important part.
“We must work on every side of our game to be sure that we are not in a situation like we were in last season."
Everton will be without Dominic Calvert-Lewin for Saturday’s match, with Lampard revealing the striker is set to be sidelined for around six weeks with a knee injury. Fellow centre-forward Salomon Rondon is suspended for the game, meanwhile.
Lampard confirmed the Blues will aim to bolster their striking options in the transfer window.
“We have a view in that area that we will possibly look to strengthen,” he said.
“I think a lot of clubs going into this window of the first few weeks of the season will be making movements.
“Any player who comes in has to improve us and be part of the direction we want to go in.
“We know where we want to get to, and we are very aware of the areas we want to improve on.”
On the signings Everton have already made, he added: “James [Tarkowski], we got in early, which is great. He is already – behind the scenes and on the pitch in pre-season – showing a lot of the qualities I expected, so I’m very pleased with him.
“Ruben [Vinagre] and Dwight [McNeil], in the last game against Dynamo Kyiv, showed glimpses of what they can do. Hopefully they we will only get better as they settle into the squad.”
In the absence of Calvert-Lewin and Rondon for the Chelsea game, Lampard admitted Dele is “potentially” an option to play as a central attacker.
“Dele made his name as a second striker, in my opinion, with Harry Kane at Tottenham,” he said.
“They had some great years together. He maybe moved back as the years went on, generally to become more of a number eight or a more structured midfield player.
“He is certainly in the running as a solution.”
Lampard also opened up on how he envisions Everton’s style of play evolving as his managerial reign progresses.
He reiterated the importance, however, of the fundamentals of hard work and application underpinning his team's performances.
“In terms of how we move the ball, I think we were quite direct at times towards the end of last season,” he said.
“I think it was really effective, I don’t want to lose that in our game, but can we vary our game? That’s where we want to get to and have more balance in our play.
“In terms of the spirit and the desire shown in some of those huge games, let’s just keep that going. That has to stay. The foundation for me at this Club and for these players has to be how good we are off the ball.
“I think the rest of it can come in terms of how good we are on the ball, but we have to be an organised team with plenty of energy and desire to not give away goals and to keep clean sheets.
“That’s a base. From then on, of course, we want to improve the way we play but that’s definitely a step-by-step process.”
Lampard added: “Now, let’s focus on Chelsea and make it a really good atmosphere, as we managed to do last year. In the run-in it was incredible.
“The players’ part of the bargain is to play with passion and try to win football matches.”