Midway through the first half during Frank Lampard’s first Premier League game in charge, Evertonians got a glimpse into the work on the training ground that the new Blues boss was implementing. Already 1-0 up against Leeds United through Seamus Coleman’s diving header, the hosts were awarded a corner-kick in front of the Park End, which Anthony Gordon prepared to take.
It was unclear who the Everton home-grown hero’s out-swinging effort would be aimed for though as half of their outfield players were all standing in a row by the edge of the Yorkshire side’s penalty area. Richarlison was at the front of the queue was Mason Holgate, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Michael Keane and Coleman all behind him.
As the delivery came in from the right, the quintet split and with Leeds’ players unsure of what was going on and who to pick up, Keane took advantage of the confusion to double the Blues’ lead through a bullet header. It was a well-worked move, executed to perfection but perhaps just the tip of the iceberg to the potential that could lie ahead if Lampard is able to recruit another of his former charges.
Since being appointed at Everton on January 31 – transfer deadline day no less – the former Derby County and Chelsea manager has been busy ‘getting the band back together’ in terms of recruiting a tight-knit backroom staff from among his most-trusted lieutenants in his previous roles. While retaining Duncan Ferguson as a club icon who knows what makes things tick at Goodison Park, the 43-year-old has also drafted in Joe Edwards, his ex-number two at Stamford Bridge who retained the title under Thomas Tuchel, to also hold the position of assistant manager plus Ashley Cole, Paul Clement and Chris Jones as coaches.
Lampard knows them all from various times during his long association with Chelsea but there’s a final piece of the jigsaw missing in terms of completing the full picture he wants to see at Finch Farm. Anthony Barry was wanted when Lampard first came to Merseyside but last season’s Champions League winners were always keen to retain his services.
No fresh reports suggest Everton are to open negotiations to bring Barry to the club but Chelsea again want to keep their man after a failed attempt to get him earlier this year. The ECHO understands that at this stage, a deal is not imminent but it could be a case of watch this space.
Still only 35, a return to the Blues would represent a journey coming full circle for the Scouser who was a trainee at the club before embarking on a professional playing career with Accrington Stanley, Yeovil Town, Chester City, Wrexham, Fleetwood Town and Forest Green Rovers but while Barry was always a lower division operator when on the pitch himself, he’s already earned a top-class reputation as a coach.
Joining Chelsea in 2000 having learned his trade at Wigan Athletic under Kirkby-born Paul Cook, he has also worked with the national teams of first the Republic of Ireland and now Roberto Martinez’s Belgium. Barry’s particular forte is set-pieces, something that in terms of defending, have been an Achilles heel for Everton all season.
En route to landing the west London club’s second Champions League title last term, Tuchel said of Barry: “Anthony was from the first moment a big part of our coaching team because first of all he is a fantastic guy, a fantastic character, very open, very friendly and he has top quality and analysing games and giving his opinion. He’s very comfortable in front of the group. He is in charge, the specialist, for all set-pieces so he’s doing video sessions, training for set-pieces and he is the assistant for any other exercises which is a pleasure to have him around.”
Chelsea’s understudy goalkeeper Marcus Bettineli also highlighted the versatility of Barry’s work in an interview with the Athletic, stating: “One day we’ll be concentrating on defending set-pieces, another will be on attacking set-pieces. It all depends on the opposition. There will be teams who do different set-ups and are vulnerable in certain areas.
“Anthony’s expertise is looking at that with the analysis guys and seeing where we can find an edge. We have scored from set-pieces this season because of Anthony’s ideas. The manager acknowledges that. It’s crucial because that set-piece could win us the game and that’s down to him.”
Indeed, while much has been made of Everton’s neighbours Liverpool employing Thomas Gronnemark as a throw-in coach, Barry was the only 2020 graduate of the FA’s Pro Licence to have his dissertation The Undervalued Set-Piece published as an academic paper. Its focus was on throw-ins and the research involved Barry watching each one of 6,380 taken in the 2018/19 Premier League campaign as Football.London explains, but the fear in the capital is that while Chelsea have been benefitting from such a forensic approach, other clubs remain interested.
Barry was offered the chance to take over at Fleetwood Town last December but was persuaded to stay by Tuchel who also rebuffed Everton’s attempts to take him a couple of months ago. While he seems something of a secret weapon, it seems as though Lampard, who is smart enough to acknowledge it’s a group effort of which he’s the ‘shop front’ might decide this target is worth another attempt when it comes to completing his line-up in the Blues dug-out going forward.