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Liverpool v Everton

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The 229th Merseyside derby is upon us, Anfield is the venue, with Everton looking to end an 18 year wait to taste victory at the home of their neighbours across the park, a win would also be the Blues’ first over Liverpool at any stadium in seven long years…

Almost two months have passed since the Reds were embarrassed by Tottenham at Wembley, but it was a real turning point for Jurgen Klopp’s men, they have not lost in the nine fixtures that have followed the 4-1 drubbing in London.

Liverpool’s attack is frightening, they are in red hot form going into this one having netted 12 goals in their previous two games against Brighton and Spartak Moscow.

But the Toffees’ form is on the up too, three wins and three clean sheets in their last three outings have seen a push up the table and a massive boost in confidence around the camp.

A good omen for Everton going into the game is the fact the last away manager to pick up three points at Anfield was Sam Allardyce, back in April when he took a struggling Crystal Palace side to the home of the Reds, played with no fear and left with a 2-1 win.

Big Sam will be looking for more of the same come Sunday.

One to watch

Mohamed Salah has set the place alight since his summer arrival from Roma, a hefty price tag alongside his failed time at Chelsea raised some eyebrows but the Egyptian has more than proved his worth. The winger has bagged himself 18 goals already this campaign in just 23 appearances, and no one has bettered his 12 in the Premier League.

A serious downfall in an Everton defence that has shipped 28 league goals this term is how they are dealing with pace, and Salah is a man with plenty of it. Mostly operating on the right, whoever is selected at left back for the Blues will have a monumental job on their hands.

Team news

The hosts will be without Alberto Moreno after the Spaniard picked up an ankle injury during their Champions League clash. Nathaniel Clyne remains side-lined. Joel Matip and Adam Lallana are doubtful.

Phil Jagielka is fit, Yannick Bolasie is back in training but is not in contention for Sunday, Leighton Baines is still a doubt.

Man in the middle –

Craig Pawson will referee the derby and having already sent Idrissa Gueye off this season he is a man not shy of a card. Four reds and 51 yellows have been dished out by Pawson this campaign.

Both sides will be eager to continue on impressive runs, Klopp is looking to keep his 100% win record against Everton but Big Sam is a man desperate to win over the doubters of his credentials, and what better way to do that then beating Liverpool on their own turf?

Up the Toffees.

The post Liverpool v Everton appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

The Rivals

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Maybe it’s a growing sign of maturity, a side advantage of not living in the City of Liverpool or a move of self-delusion but I increasingly feel less and less hate towards Liverpool Football Club. I have come to greatly resent the arrogance, misinformation and at times falsification that comes from many of their supporters when they discuss many things Everton, but that is tinged with an appreciation and respect for the football club they have built. There is much that can be learned for Everton Football Club, both good and bad as we caste our eye towards the 239th and 240th Merseyside Derby.

The biggest thing I find admirable about their support base, is the collective ability to generate a very simple, effective message which can be disseminated through all aspects of their club. When I grew up most arguments, of any nature would be ended with a Liverpool fan normally shouting “18 times” repetitively. It was a simple call to arms and a reminder that they stood alone as the most successful team in England. As Manchester United caught and overtook them, this has slowly been replaced with “5 times”, again said with the same poise that is indicative of a club who are the most successful (though Liverpool are not the most successful in this competition). However from the outside looking in, you would be hard pushed to think that Liverpool supporter’s mantra of “18 + 5” was anything other than indicative of a club that was the most successful in both categories. If you say a lie constantly and continually enough, people star to gravitate towards you and some will even believe you. It is a wonderful example of a support base taking a simple and generalizable message to alter the more complex reality that they live in. Many Evertonian’s begrudge them for this, but I have admiration for how effectively it is administered.

This attitude runs through their football club. Players very quickly learn that anything other than winning is not acceptable. I have seen two cycles of young players in my lifetime at Everton and Liverpool look comparable at a similar age, yet the ones who play for Liverpool are the ones that generally fulfill their potential. At ages 18-20 through the Premier League years Everton have produced at the very least as many talented players as their rivals, yet taking them from years 20-25 has been a great disappointed. This is where Liverpool come into their own. Lads like Carragher and Gerrard were very decent footballers at age 18-20 but a far stretch from the top class footballers they would become at age 27/28. Without doubt the standards and expectations that run through Liverpool greatly underpin this.

What Everton fail to do, in any way, is to effectively find any equivalent counter points to Liverpool’s 18 + 5 rhetoric. There is no talk of the World club cup competition Everton win (which Liverpool haven’t). There is no talk about how we are the only club who are the founders of the football league who have also been ever present in the Premier League. How we have had more Golden Boot winners than any other team. How we have held the Premier League trophy (due to two World Wars) longer than any other club. How we had more points than any other side at the turn of the 20th century and could rightly be dubbed footballs “Champions of the 20th Century”. How we have partaken in the most prevalent fixture in the top flight or we have played more games and had more seasons than any other team. There will undoubtedly be Liverpool fans snorting at such achievements, but to be successful in transmitting a clear message you have to let go of any concerns of derision from your rivals. Objectively, who is to say achieving the most top flight points is less of an achievements than having the 2nd most titles? As I said above, if you keep repeating a simple, generalizable message people will eventually shift in their thinking.

One of the sad developments of Merseyside Derbies has been the invention of the term “bitter” by Liverpool supporters towards Everton fans. No Liverpool fan has ever given me a workable definition as to how this works uniquely to Everton fans over any other group of supporters who have (a frankly illogical) hatred of their local rivals. It is important Everton fans look to reject not just the label but also the paradigm it emerges from and challenge the assumptions that go alongside it. I regularly see Liverpool fans laughing and commenting on Everton issues, in truth far more so than I see Everton fans passing comment on Liverpool issues. Rather than trying to out hate what are in many parts a studiously spiteful and hateful bunch of supporters Everton fans would be best served focusing on learning about and promoting our own unique set of achievements. No matter how many trophies Liverpool win, they will never be the first club of the city, never be the first team to win trophies at Anfield, the first team to play and win at the Old and New Wembley, be the first club rom Merseyside to win the football league and the FA Cup. The richness of Everton FC’s history should not lead us to feel hateful or envious of any football club, least of all Liverpool who will never be able to truly shed the image of being the club who followed in our footsteps.

The Derby game itself will be a very difficult match for Evertonian’s. There will undoubtedly be chants from a group of supporters about the exact date of when we last won a league game at Anfield and when we last won a trophy. These are the same set of supporters who with no sense of irony will consider Everton fans obsessional in the attitudes towards Liverpool and who will themselves not acknowledge they have won a solitary League Cup in the last decade but make out they are on a par with Real Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich. They have each won the league 8, 15, 14, 14 and 13 times since Liverpool last won it, to give a bit of context to the relative domestic performance of their supposed rivals.

Most Liverpool fans fail to comprehend the point that’s being made here, which is not that Everton have been any better in the last 30 years (we have been even worse) but that both Everton and Liverpool have fallen miles behind the top European teams since the hazy mid 80’s days, yet we are grounded enough to accept this reality. For many Liverpool fans, laughing at Everton has become something of the impotence of the mind to accept occurrences it cannot comprehend. Yet the message has become extremely resilient and this is a process Everton as a club and it’s fanbase can learn from. You don’t actually have to achieve something to get people outside of your bubble to believe you are on a par with teams. Everton’s first challenge is to get people in the media to accept we have a bigger history than clubs who have won less than a quarter of the league titles we have.

There will be some legitimate questions as to what doing all of this will do in terms of developing Everton. Johan Cruyff on entering Barcalona declared they had “Real Madritis”- namely that they measured everything in opposition to a perceived (and in many ways actual) victimhood in relation to Madrid. They made themselves the opposite of Madrid, and allowed Madrid to dictate and dominate the context and direction of the conversation. Cruyff noted that you would never be successful as a victim and people had to learn to frame their own club on a set of values that were unique to them and based around a positive message.

This is a central message that is worth noting not just for the derby on Sunday, or the FA Cup derby but also more broadly as we look to grow and expand as a football club. The old adage that we couldn’t care less what they say has to start being adopted more rigorously. They will do their thing at the other end of Stanley Park and may well make a great success of it, our job is to ensure our own club is living up to it’s own maximum potential. Over the next two derbies it means defend for your lives and hope for a set piece winner, over the next 2 decades it needs to be re-connecting with the history of the club. There is nothing unique about the recent unbeaten run Liverpool have had, both clubs have had 3 or 4 examples in the history of the fixture of similar runs. They come to an end at some point. For Everton, it will only happen when we learn to control what is within our power and do a better job of it than what we currently are.

The post The Rivals appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Viva Hate

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There was a time when Everton and Liverpool supporters revelled in a uniquely friendly rivalry, so the story goes. The apex of this was the 1980s when the two clubs dominated English football.

As fans, we were united in our city’s brilliance, each respectful of the others footballing achievement. Supporters would travel to Wembley together and the terraces would come alive with chants of ‘Merseyside, Merseyside, Merseyside’.

And then it all went wrong. The fraternity broke down. The Heysel disaster and Everton’s subsequent loss of their place in the European Cup is seen by many as the seed from which our now toxic rivalry eventually grew. From that point on the relationship began to alter and the two sets of supporters saw each other as more than just rivals and instead as something more loathsome.

But how much of the above is really true?

It’s certainly the case that for many years the rivalry between the clubs was relatively benign.

When the first league Derby took place in 1894 the only enmity that existed was between the respective boards (who were each smarting slightly after the acrimonious split). From Everton’s perspective, the board’s desire to win was best illustrated by the promise of a silk hat to each of the players should they vanquish their neighbours. And as all of us who have played football know only too well, when there is a silk hat at stake you tend to play to the best of your ability.

In the years that followed, within the context of a less partisan nationwide football environmental in general, the two sets of supporters rubbed together fairly amicably. Fans of each team would go to each others’ stadiums and Derby day rivalry was generally good natured.

But from the Shankly-era on, when Liverpool started to become the footballing presence that most people would recognise today, the relatively benign relationship definitely began to change. I doubt there are many Evertonians who lived though the team’s inability to win a derby game during much of the 1970s, and suffered the unending smugness of our neighbours, who would agree that the relationship between the blue-half and the red-half of the city was as amicable as some people would like to suggest.

‘I think from the 1960s onwards, a cockiness on Liverpool’s part (born from success), combined with occasional inflammatory remarks from their managers and players bred hostility that hadn’t been there before. It might not have been like it is today but increasingly you saw more of a divide between the two sets of supporters’ says lifelong Blue John Bohanna.

Superficially, during the 1980s the relationship appeared, to the outside world at least, to be defined by that pre-1960s cordiality. Fans did travel to Wembley together, some supporters did chant ‘Merseyside, Merseyside, Merseyside’ and a few of those involved in these games do look back fondly at the apparent sense of camaraderie.

‘At the end of the Milk Cup Final I ran around Wembley with Alan Kennedy. We had a blue scarf and a red scarf tied together above our heads. I remember the fans singing ‘Merseyside, Merseyside’, Merseyside’ and it still brings a lump to my throat thinking about it now. It was an occasion that you just don’t forget and which was a privilege to be part of’ recalls John Bailey fondly.

And yet, despite this veneer of cordiality, the process of growing mutual antipathy that had started in the 1960s maintained its inexorable progression. Take that Milk Cup Final as an example. To an outsider, the fleets of mixed cars heading south together and the chants of ‘Merseyside’ speak of an occasion that seemed to embody the notion of the ‘friendly derby’.

But from another perspective, as Graham Ennis from WSAG explains, the day can be seen differently.

‘Although people travelled down together and there was no division between the fans, that’s just what the city is like. But that didn’t mean that Evertonians had any affection for Liverpool. And when it came to the game, I recall the Evertonians singing Everton songs because we were proud of what our team had done. I think the ‘Merseyside’ stuff came from the Liverpool fans, largely because they knew they’d underperformed and probably wanted to extract a bit of pride from the game by jumping on the ‘Merseyside’ bandwagon.’

‘Merseyside/Merseypride’ might have played well in the press and the rivalry was free from the violence that characterised cities such as Glasgow, Milan and Belgrade but to suggest that Liverpudlians and Evertonians were one big happy family is just a myth.

But what is certainly true is that the relationship between the two sets of fans has deteriorated markedly since the 1980s, reaching the point today where the breakdown is probably irrevocable. Too much has passed between the clubs for this ever to recover.

Each set of fans has their own list of grievances. Reds think us Blues bitter, jealous and consumed with envy, and we Blues think them smug, shallow and almost homo-erotically obsessed with Kenny Dalglish (or Jurgen Klopp, Steven Gerrard, Ian Rush etc etc.etc, take your pick)

The ‘bitter’ tag is an odd one for Evertonians because although many of us of a certain age do unquestionably harbour a degree of resentment for what unfolded after Heysel, it barely compares to the level of resentment that Liverpudlians harbour towards Man Utd for superseding their achievement, a level of sourness that would be best visually represented by the image of Dot Cotton licking piss off a lemon. It’s often hard and confusing to be labelled ‘bitter’ by the bitterest fans in the country.

As a result of the above and any number of additional grievances, the Merseyside derby has become one of the most poisonous fixtures in the Premier League calendar. The games themselves are rarely beautiful to watch, consisting mainly of frenetic football and wild tackles. For most local fans the tension that’s created exceeds that of other games and in a city as divided as Liverpool in football terms, winning the fixture and being able to hold your head up high at school or work the next morning is something that really matters.

But ultimately is there anything wrong with this? Football is by its very nature a partisan sport. As long as it doesn’t descend into violence, is animosity between sets of fans something to be discouraged?

It’s not as if support of either team precludes each set of fans from befriending each other. Disagreeing with a friend’s football choices doesn’t mean you can’t ultimately get along.

After the internecine violence that so marred the game in the 1970s and 1980s it’s understandable that a lot of supporters would like to see the back of this kind of animosity that is evident between the fans of certain teams. But I think that’s part of the game’s appeal and without it football can be a little bland.

Changes to the game over the last twenty years have already robbed football of much of its character and so we should be glad that fixtures such as our Derby still exist. The atmosphere might be toxic but it’s also exciting in ways that clashes between teams that ‘get along’ could never hope to be.

The post Viva Hate appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Apollon Limassol 0-3 Everton​

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A brace of goals from Ademola Lookman and a late strike from Nikola Vlasic saw a morale boosting end to Everton’s Europa League campaign in Cyprus, a result that lifted them from the foot of Group E at the expense of their hosts.

Limassol coach Sofronis Avgousti with a draw from the corresponding match at Goodison to reflect upon but like the Blues, failing to qualify for the knockout stages made changes in selecting: Kissas, Jander, Roberge, Pitian, Pedro, Santana, de Souza, Sachetti, Sardinero, Martinez, Papoulis (c) and Schembri.

Everton first team coach Craig Shakespeare stood in for manager Sam Allardyce and he named a much changed Everton side as three youngsters got their first starts. Most of the first team squad had stayed home to prepare for the ‘derby’ at Anfield on Sunday. The team therefore lined up: Robles, Charsley, Feeney, Besic, Baningime, Schneiderlin (c), Klaassen, Vlasic, Mirallas, Lookman and Hornby. The entire reserve bench was made up of academy players, giving them a unique opportunity to make an impression.

Shaven headed referee Sebastian Delferiere and his assistants had travelled from Belgium.

Once again the incredible travelling Everton support turned out in numbers, some 1,500 having made the long trip to Nicosia to take their place in a rather sparsely populated stadium.

A slight mix-up between Robles and Feeney almost resented an early chance to the home side, Baningime tidying up and averting any real danger. Papoulis fired over from the edge of the box on five minutes as the Cypriot side looked to make an early breakthrough.

A great ball from Klaassen in midfield set Lookman free on the left flank, his first touch took him slightly wide, but he cut inside to make a better angle for the shot that was solidly blocked by Kissas. A mazy run by Lookman on ten minutes saw the ball break nicely for Harry Charsley and his first time curling effort was bound for the top corner until Kissas, at full stretch, tipped it away for a corner.

The Blues had settled well and were pushing forward confidently with Lookman keen to test himself for pace against Limassol right back Pedro. A brief respite in the Everton possession saw a cross from Papoulis headed clear by Feeney and Sachetti hit a speculative 25-yard effort easily gathered by Robles.

The Everton possession turned into genuine pressure and it led to the opening goal in the 21st minute. A good move eventually led to Vlasic playing a one-two with Mirallas to chase the ball to the dead ball line and put an excellent cross to the back post for Ademola Lookman to stoop but plant a clever header high over the goalie into the roof of the net.

Seven minutes later the Blues scored a fabulous second after a succession of passes, Mirallas played the ball inside to Lookman and he controlled, took two strides and let an absolute howitzer go from 25 yards that Kissas igot a hand to but when never going to stop.

The double salvo stung the home side into a response and Joel Robles was needed to turn away shots from Sardinero and Papoulis in quick succession and then hold onto another close range effort from Sardinero.

A short pass from Klaassen gave Mirallas the chance to test the Limassol defence, but he pulled his shot wide across the face of goal.

Papoulis steered a header off a Sardinero free kick beyond Robles, but the linesman flag was raided and the ‘goal’ was disallowed.

Everton weren’t resting on their laurels and another good attack involving Charsley, Lookman and Mirallas saw Kissas, with his legs, deny a strong shot from Vlasic.

A studs up tackle from Besic on Pedro in added on time had the home fans howling for a penalty, but none of the officials saw fit to award a penalty as there was precious little contact, and an entertaining first half drew to a close with the Blues good value for their lead.

Half Time: 0-2

Robles punched away a powerful shot from RS loanee de Souza early in the second half as the home side tried to recover from the first half deficit but their early pressure was soaked up by a hard-working Everton defence.

A long ball from Robles was relayed onto Vlasic by Fraser Hornby and the Croatian fed Lookman before racing into the six yard box hoping for a cut back. It didn’t come as Lookman, on a hat trick, went for the shot and the keeper parried it away.

Limassol won a free kick right on the edge of the Everton area but two efforts from Pedro both hit the Everton wall. Zelaya replaced Schembri on the hour mark as Limassol wasted another free kick.

Everton were having to defend in numbers as the travelling fans again raised their voices in encouragement and Morgan Feeney showed a maturity beyond his tender years to stay goalside of Zelaya as he went for a diving header, Feeney completing the clearance comfortably.

Feeney was having an impressive first full game alongside Mo Besic at the heart of the Blues defence, dominating in the air whenever Limassol tried to launch balls more in hope than anything else, and looking calm and composed with the ball on the ground.

At the other end, Kissas did well to foil Mirallas as he took a pass from Vlasic to shoot low and then the keeper kicked away a Fraser Hornby shot. Baningime picked up a yellow card and tempers flared when Mirallas reacted to a challenge for RS loanee de Souza.

Into the final fifteen minutes and the yellow card score was evened up as Sachetti picked up a booking for a stiff challenge on Vlasic.

Welshman Nathan Broadhead replaced Hornby in the 82nd minute, the young Scotsman having led the line well on his full debut and he did well to create an opening for Vlasic who chose to look for Lookman rather than taking a close range shot himself.

Everton cemented a terrific victory on 86 minutes as another long bout of passing saw the ball fed through to Nikola Vlasic who beat the last man to run in and beat the goalie though his legs for 0-3.

Sixteen-year old Anthony Gordon got the final minutes replacing Kevin Mirallas before 17-year old Alex Denny came on for Harry Charsley as the an extra two minutes were signalled by the fourth official.

Zelaya bent a late, late effort wide of Joel Robles far post, but a marker for Limassol would have been an unkind end to fine, final game in this Europa League campaign

Full Time: 0-3

Personal thoughts…

Whilst the Europa League has largely been a disaster for Everton this season, the club can take great heart from this final game given the assured and impressive debuts for four of their academy players.

Morgan Feeney in defence was impressive and the effort from Fraser Hornby up front could only have been bettered if he’s got his name on the score sheet. Harry Charsley was steady at left back playing up against the experienced Limassol skipper Papoulis.

Of the senior players, Klaassen, Schneiderlin, Mirallas and Besic will all have benefited from some much needed game time and Joel Robles performed well in goal in keeping a clean sheet.

Ademola Lookman proved a constant thorn in the side of Limassol and his two goals, particularly the second, will do his confidence the world of good.

The post Apollon Limassol 0-3 Everton​ appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Apollon Limassol v Everton

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Everton’s calamity of a Europa League campaign finally comes to an end on Thursday evening when the Blues make the trip to Cyprus to face Apollon Limassol at the GSP Stadium.

With both sides unable to progress into the next stage of the competition it is an irrelevant game in the Blues’ calendar, but if pride means anything it’s a given no one wants to finish rock bottom of Group E, an away win will elevate the Toffees above their Cypriot opponents into third.

Sam Allardyce won’t be travelling to Cyprus due to a ‘long standing medical appointment’, assistant manager Sammy Lee is staying behind at USM Finch Farm so it is down to Craig Shakespeare and Duncan Ferguson to bring an inexperienced squad to Limassol, it’ll be a fantastic opportunity for young and hungry players to show their worth.

Apollon Limassol have won their last three league games, in stylish fashion too, netting 13 goals and only conceding one in the process which has seen them rise to fifth in the Cypriot First Division.

Everton’s one and only point in the group stage came against the same opponents in the reverse fixture, when the ten men of the visitors snatched a point late on in L4.

Team news

Senior players will be rested on mass in anticipation of Sunday’s Merseyside derby, with Kevin Mirallas, Morgan Schneiderlin, Nikola Vlasic, Davy Klaassen, Muhamed Besic, Ademola Lookman and Joel Robles the only players with experience in the first team traveling.

Momentum is key going into such a big game, the old saying ‘the form book goes out the window in derbies’ is all well and good, but of course going to Anfield on the back of three consecutive wins would be a massive bonus for a side who haven’t won a game across Stanley Park since 1999.

Up the Toffees.

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More Than Just a Game

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When Everton take to the pitch at our former ground this weekend it will be 18 years since the club has won at Anfield. By any definition, this is a woeful statistic.

Everton have now long surpassed the previous record, which stood at 14 years, spanning the period 1970-1984. Although dreadful, there were mitigating circumstances for this dismal performance. That period covered Liverpool in their pomp, when the notion of ‘Fortress Anfield’ was grounded in unshakable reality.

In the past 18 years, there is no mitigation. Liverpool are long past their best and if Anfield is any kind of fortress today, it is one whose edifice is crumbling and whose defences can be breached with ease.

But where the likes of West Ham, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa have succeeded in recent seasons (regarding a trip to Anfield as no different to any other away game) Everton have stumbled, burdened by a self-imposed mental block that has made the prospect of winning appear near impossible.

In recent seasons this has blossomed into an inability to rarely put out a competitive performance. Not only do Everton seem to enter these contests defeated before a ball has even been kicked but they have also on occasions been porous to the point of saturation.

The 4-0 defeat in 2016 might stand as a low-point in this era of misery, a game where the scoreline could have reached double figures, but although the worst example, it remains only one of a litany of recent abject performances.

The sad reality through these years of pain is that much of it has been avoidable. Few of the Liverpool sides that Everton have encountered since the club’s last victory in 1999 have been unbeatable. The club’s dismal record has spanned one of Liverpool’s more lamentable periods in their history. Compare the sides of the past two decades to those that played their football at Anfield in the 1970s and 1980s and its evident just how much Everton have fallen short.

The Shite have been there for the taking time and time again. But Everton do not seem able to grasp the opportunities presented. Perhaps most criminal was back in 2012 when an on form Everton took on an out of sorts Liverpool and with a front line of Anichebe and Stracqualursi let them off the hook, enabling our hosts to build up a bit of confidence and run out 3-0 victors.

The Blues now effectively start each season at a numeric points disadvantage because the three points available at Anfield are effectively off the table. And by extension, Liverpool start at an advantage, so certain is it that the Anfield derby will end at worst, as a draw, at best, a victory.

But as depressing as this is, perhaps worse is what Everton’s dismal record at Anfield says about the club. Since Moyes arrived and began to restore some footballing pride at Goodison, Everton have possessed aspirations of moving back into the higher reaches of the game.

Like most clubs outside the top six, when visiting the stadiums of the ‘big guns’ there is an inevitable sense of wariness. Playing City, Chelsea or United away will always be a test. But none of these fixtures enjoy the same sense of fatalism as the Anfield Derby does for Everton. A sliver of optimism remains stubbornly persistent and occasionally it is rewarded. But against Liverpool, pessimism reigns and such an outlook generally proves to be appropriate.

The Anfield derby is Everton’s first and arguably greatest mental block. If the club has any desire or opportunity to both return to the upper echelons of the game and claim silverware then victory against the auld enemy would be hugely beneficial.

The mental fortitude to grasp silverware, to push for the Champions League, to consistently take on the best, does not currently reside at Goodison. But turning over the Shite in their own backyard would be an enormous first step in building up the club’s self belief, arming for the ‘project’ to come.

When I interviewed players from Everton’s mid-1980s Golden Age for my recent book, Everton’s Greatest Games, the likes of Sharp, Sheedy and Ratcliffe all pointed out just how important Everton’s win at Anfield in 1984 was for what came next. For them, it didn’t just represent an end to the 14 year hoodoo that Anfield had held over the club; it also provided tangible proof that anything was possible.

Although there are no parallels to be drawn between this current Everton squad and that of the mid-1980s, and few amongst us expect another Golden Age to arrive any point soon, the hurdle of beating Liverpool at Anfield can awaken possibilities within a group of players.

No other club in the top flight has such a mental block (or sense of inferiority) when it comes to playing their neighbours. Today, Liverpool are a good side. On their day, they can beat most teams. And at Anfield, with 60,000 Norwegians behind them, they are generally better. But they are not that good. And nor have they been for some time. They are not a side that should be beating Everton 4-0, they are not a side that should be outplaying the Blues all the time and they are not a side that should be going into this fixture always expecting to win.

When Kevin Campbell slotted home his early winner back in September 1999, I doubt anyone watching thought that nearly two decades would pass without Everton bringing home all three points from Anfield again.

The club’s shambolic record at our old ground is a shameful one. If we ever hope to be something more than we are now, that has to chang

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November GOT Player of the Month

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Another topsy-turvy, far from dull month for the Mighty Blues has been confined to the annals of history, a month that saw three losses, one draw and two victories, and an interesting spread of the voting for this months GOT Player of the Month.

David Unsworth remained in charge throughout November, probably longer than he had originally expected and certainly longer than the fan base expected following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman. While the man nicknamed Rhino concentrated on the players and the game schedule, the fan base were glued to bona-fide and social media sources, desperate for tangible news of who would be getting the role.

Once again, we played six games and as well as the mixture of results, we saw a real mish-mash of both team and individual player performances. Some were good, many were distinctly average while the rest varied from anywhere between disappointing and frankly diabolical, but we won’t dwell on the negative, the GOT PotM is intended to be something of a celebratory moment as we build inexorably toward the big prize – the GOT Player of the Season.

November saw the largest number of players used in one month so far this season with twenty-five including a first appearance of the season for Joel Robles and a brief home debut for young defender Morgan Feeney. Just two players featured in all six games – Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jonjoe Kenny.

Four players won individual matches, Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson, with two games apiece for both Oumar Niasse and Beni Baningime.

Again, we’d like to stress that your votes really do count and would encourage you to vote as quickly as possible due to the compressed nature of the fixture list this season, polls will/may only be open for a few days due to the next game coming very quickly afterwards.

And so to the result and as is customary… in reverse order and third place, congratulations go to the ever improving Jonjoe Kenny.

In second place and benefiting from a memorable first Everton hat-trick in the thrashing of West Ham was Wayne Rooney.

And the GOT Player of the Month for November with over 33% of the votes cast, a quite amazing figure given he was ineligible for the two Europa League games and very harshly banned for two games… picking his second monthly award is…

Oumar Niasse.

The post November GOT Player of the Month appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

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