Frank Lampard may be a symptom of Everton’s malaise but, as Toffees supporters know only too well, it is those in the boardroom rather than the dugout who have turned this proud old club into a twitching, moaning, shambling mess. 

The sickness had gripped the Toffees long before the former Chelsea boss took over. And, if their long Premier League life is snuffed out in May, it won’t be Lampard on trial for the slaughter of this proud old institution. 

While relegation rivals Wolves, Aston Villa and Southampton are spending heavily in an attempt to lift themselves away from the drop zone, Lampard – for all his tactical limitations – continues to resemble a man operating with one hand tied behind his back in the transfer market. Like a chef tasked with make a Michelin star meal out of ingredients purchased from Farmfoods. Like a rusty old Renault Twingo against a fleet of Audis and BMWs.

Photo by Andrew Kearns – CameraSport via Getty Images

According to the Daily Mail, Everton missed out on the chance to sign Danny Ings this month; Aston Villa rejecting loan bids while insisting the England international would only be leaving on a permanent basis. Ings is joining West Ham for £12 million instead and, ironically enough, could make his Hammers debut against Everton in Saturday’s proverbial ‘six pointer’. 

West Ham beat Everton to Danny Ings

“He is a fantastic striker,” Lampard told the Liverpool Echo on Thursday when quizzed about Ings’ impending move to the London Stadium. “A really good striker. I’ve always had a lot of admiration for Danny as a player and a lad. I don’t know him that well, but he seems like a real team lad. 

“He is someone we will have to be very aware of because he is a top striker.” 

Of course, if Lampard was not paying the price for so many years of reckless spending, Ings may have been lining up for Everton rather than West Ham this weekend. With the atmosphere already turning toxic at Goodison Park, the sight of one of Everton’s top targets joining a direct rival for just £12 million – hardly an eye-watering sum in the grand scheme of things – will inevitably lead to yet more fury being directed at a hapless board; Farhad Moshiri’s ‘kid in a candy shop’ approach to recruitment leaving Everton flabby and sickly. 

With 15 goals in 19 games, Everton need a striker. Lampard himself admits Everton are crying out for a ‘clinical’ streak. But Ings is not the only talented centre-forward who appears to have slipped through the Toffees’ grasp.

Everton have held Dusan Zapata talks with Atalanta

According to the Sunday Mirror (15th January, page 70), Everton have held talks with Atalanta regarding Colombian powerhouse Duvan Zapata too. The Toffees were hoping to sign Zapata on loan with an option-to-buy. But with Atalanta emulating Aston Villa and refusing to consider initial short-term deals, Nottingham Forest could take a leaf out of West Ham’s book and take full advantage of Everton’s precarious financial situation. 

Atalanta, TMW say, will only sell the £17 million-rated Zapata this month. And, with Forest in a much stronger position than Everton financially, there appears to be only one realistic destination for the long-serving Atalanta targetman. And it’s not Goodison Park.

“We absolutely want to help the squad and make the squad stronger,” Lampard sighs, via Sky Sports. “I’m aware that teams around us are working on their squads, and getting competition in forward areas.

i”We know we need more competition and more of a clinical nature about us at the top of the pitch. (But) t’s not an easy window.”

Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

In other news, ‘Credible name’: Tottenham genuinely like 36-year-old in-work manager