Frank Lampard has praised the Everton fans for helping drag his team over the line to secure Premier League survival on a ‘special night’ at Goodison Park following their 3-2 win over Crystal Palace.
Needing a win to secure top flight survival ahead of a tricky trip to Arsenal on the final day of the season, the Everton boss found his side 2-0 down at half-time following goals from Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jordan Ayew.
But despite facing a huge fight to get back into the game, Toffees supporters roared on their side in the second half to help secure a remarkable turnaround with goals from Michael Keane and Richarlison as well as the winner from Dominic Calvert-Lewin five minutes from time to earn a remarkable and vital three points.
Frank Lampard celebrates during Everton’s stunning 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace
Everton players and Lampard celebrate earning Premier League survival with one game to play
Lampard admitted that his side were in desperate need of support from the Toffees faithful, who he lauded as extraordinary.
‘What we have just seen, I know its Premier League safety, not champions league, what it means to this club. Anyone on the outside would say we were dead and buried at half-time but the character of this cub dragged us through,’ Lampard told Sky Sports.
‘The spirit was immense, I am overwhelmed. A huge night for Everton and now we want to take that forward.
‘Sometimes as a manager you have to fake it and not show your feelings. There was a small change, Dele came on and was amazing. My point was its the emotions and character, can you energize the crowd?
Before the match supporters created an incredible atmosphere outside of Goodison Park
Dele Alli came off the bench to help inspire a second half comeback for Everton on Thursday
‘Once that goal went in for us something felt special about the night. We have created a special night in Everton’s history.
‘We needed the fans tonight. They dragged the players but they have been doing it for a long time. The fans have dragged us through, it is extraordinary what they have done. They have suffered this year because they want success.’
Everton’s win led to a huge pitch invasion at full-time among the jubilant home fans relieved to have seen their side stay up, which was soured by a controversial incident involving Palace boss Patrick Vieira kicking out at a fan after being provoked.
Lampard though unbeknown to the events at that moment reflected on he positive support he has had at Goodison Park since taking over from the sacked Rafa Benitez earlier in the year.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin celebrates scoring the crucial winning goal for Everton
Following confirmation of top flight survival fans invaded the Goodison Park pitch post-match
‘Those moments at the end were priceless,’ he added. ‘I came in three and half months ago and the support I have had from everyone at the club has been huge and that is within Everton. It doesn’t get the media, the interesting story is we might get relegated not that Everton has a heart and a soul. Tonight we showed we have a heart and a soul and are staying in the Premier League.’
The former Derby County and Chelsea boss was also thankful of the support he has received from inside the club, before admitting he had suffered from not seeing his family enough since taking charge on Merseyside.
‘For the owner, who I have good contact with, I am so pleased,’ he told BBC Sport. ‘Anyone who thinks of it from the outside, he has invested a lot of money in the club and there is a real desire for it to stay in the league. We want to do things right going forward and find a better way.
‘The chairman, the CEO, Graeme Sharp, Peter Reid, legends of this club who have been so supportive of me. And the fans. I am a Londoner, seen as a Chelsea boy, a Cockney. People look and go ‘can you Everton like that?’ and I go: ‘yeah, I can and you know what I will give it everything.’ I am not perfect, no manager is, but I want to get better and better. Hopefully this gives me the breathing space to go away, see my family more – I miss my family working up here a lot.
Lampard lauded Everton fans for their support in his side’s battle against relegation
‘I am a constant optimist and a pessimist. My glass is half full and half empty. It is a dangerous game when you feel like that. My thoughts before the game were all the bad stuff. OK, we go to Arsenal, what can Leeds do, what can Burnley do. On the good side it was whether we could do something incredible tonight. I expected the pitch invasion and the outpouring.
‘This is a people’s club and they care deeply about it. There is nowhere else in the Premier League where what happens pre-game happens. It is a huge thing we need to tap into.’
Lampard now insists it’s time for the team to improve their mentality ahead of next season and challenged the club’s board to improve on recruiting better players during the summer transfer window.
‘On a footballing level we need to get better and recruit well,’ he added. ‘We need to make the culture even better. I will be more forceful about what I want next season. But I don’t want to underplay what these players have done. It has not been perfect but what they have done in the run in is special.’