JOE BERNSTEIN: Dele Alli’s latest gaffe epitomises the malaise affecting him and Everton. Even at £0 he’s NOT been a bargain… no wonder Frank Lampard is fearing a relegation fight after their humiliating loss to Minnesota United
- Dele Alli missed perhaps one of the easiest chances of all time for Everton
- Frank Lampard’s side lost 4-0 to MLS club Minnesota United in their latest match
- The Toffees have also lost to Arsenal and are tipped to struggle again this year
- Alli joined Everton for free from Tottenham last season but is yet to find his feet
Dele Alli’s miss of the century contender for Everton against MLS side Minnesota United is a new low for a one-time teenage star now in danger of being washed up at 26.
Even the most technically challenged park player would have backed themselves to tap home from a couple of yards in the middle of the goal under no pressure.
Instead, the former England man couldn’t get his feet sorted and fell over in shame as the ball dribbled wide, leaving team-mate Mason Holgate — who had crossed — with his hands on his head in horror.
Dele Alli has struggled in an Everton shirt since joining from Tottenham for free in January
The midfielder missed an open goal from just centimeters against Minnesota United
Somewhere, Ronnie Rosenthal was smiling having been mocked for years about his own infamous Liverpool missed sitter.
Dele’s latest gaffe epitomises the malaise affecting him and Everton. The Merseysiders were a disaster in the American Midwest, beaten 4-0 by modest opposition to leave Frank Lampard saying through gritted teeth: ‘It’s given me a lot to think about.’
For Dele, the decline from being a World Cup semi-finalist in 2018 has been sharp. There were claims that launching a clothing range distracted from his football. He went through the unpleasant experience of having his home robbed by intruders with knives.
Spurs let him go to Everton in January without asking for a penny up front but even at £0 it has not been a bargain. Lampard started him only once in four months last season. So far, the tour of America has left a bad smell.
Worryingly for Lampard, Dele is only one of many problems ahead of the new season. This summer Everton have lost talisman Richarlison to Spurs and signed only one player, James Tarkowski on a free. If Tarkowski left Burnley hoping his relegation battle days were over, he might be in for a nasty shock.
Alli started just one game in four months last season as he continues to search for some form
Lampard knows things are serious. ‘The players have to understand we were in a relegation battle for a big portion of last season,’ he said.
‘We were in that fight for a reason and if we don’t want to be in that situation again they have to be better and I have to be better.’
It won’t be an easy fix. Everton are already financially committed to building a new stadium and had to adjust their operations after Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov, who had sponsorship links to the club, had his assets frozen due to the war in Ukraine.
While Lampard wants to add, other clubs are looking at remaining assets such as Anthony Gordon and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
After bad defeats in America, the reaction of Everton’s fanbase will be interesting when they return to England and face Blackpool in their next game on Sunday. Some won’t wait that long with protests planned for Goodison on Saturday.
Frank Lampard has a huge task on his hands if he is to guide Everton to a successful season
Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath, who was part of the last Everton side to win the league title in 1987, urged the board to support Lampard.
‘Frank needs reinforcements after losing Richarlison,’ he said. ‘If that experience of just escaping the drop doesn’t galvanise the players and board, I don’t know what will.’
Everton are down to the bare bones up front and have been linked with many strikers, from Charles De Ketelaere of Bruges to Chelsea’s Armando Broja and Inter Milan veteran Edin Dzeko.
Until someone signs, the anxiety will grow. They clearly can’t rely on Dele to convert chances — no matter how close to goal.