When I was a boy, the Merseyside Derby ranked up with those Old Firm games from North of The Border in passion and sheer entertainment. At that time, Everton were no better a team than they are now, and I’ll grant you that in those days, Liverpool were the dominant team, not only in England but across the whole of Europe. Despite the obvious difference in class, it was always a special game, and League position meant nothing. Next week sees the first installment of this season’s “Battle of Stanley Park”, but for a non-Merseysider like myself, I’m afraid it’s become just another game.
I watched the Man City vs Everton game yesterday and one aspect of Everton’s play started to become so much clearer, given the fact that their opponents had a squad filled with talent, but the unfortunate part for Everton fans is that they are so lacking in quality that if manager David Moyes was to suddenly decide he’s had enough, The Toffees would probably tumble out of the top Leagues as fast as Leeds United did. I doubt that there is a team in the Premier League at the moment, that depends on it’s manager so much for survival. I think it was 3-4 seasons ago when I saw them play in Chicago in a pre-season friendly against the Chicago Fire. I had never seen a team, from their level before or since, show such little quality out on the field. I’m fully aware that exhibition games reveal little, but you do get to look at how much quality a club has available, Fast forward to today and nothing much has changed.
Now we all know that extra cash is almost non-existent at Goodison Park as CEO Bill Kenwright struggles to keep the boat afloat, but somehow Everton have to find a way to bring talent to the club instead of selling it off. They have recruited some decent players over the years in Fellaini (who I’m not impressed with but Everton fans seem to like him), Tim Howard and Royston Drenthe, and they definitely have some emerging youngsters in Ross Barkley, Jack Rodwell, and Apostolos Vellios. When you combine that with proven internationals such as Leighton Baines, Tim Cahill and Phil Jagielka, one would think they had a solid core. The problem is they have no depth to compete. They are easily decimated by injuries, which is where the money side of the club rears it’s ugly head.
Everton consistently lose $8-10m each year, and with no stadium deal in place, they don’t represent a very attractive investment to outside financiers. Typically, they generate $20m a year from match-days whilst other top clubs put close to $100m in the till from their home games. The shortfall has to be made up from the sale of players, which leaves precious little for David Moyes to use in the transfer market. This has led to an escalating level of impatience from supporters who feel that their club is rotting from the inside out. The new owners at Liverpool I’m sure have left some fans thinking why their club can’t do the same and allow buyers to approach, but it’s felt that the Board have resisted any potential suitors.
David Moyes is widely respected throughout the Premier League as an excellent coach and, in my humble opinion, should be Manager of the Year every year. His peers speak highly of the Scot and his tactical prowess is as good as anyone’s. Mention of him as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor at Old Trafford got tongues wagging a couple of season’s back. He has however, come in for some severe criticism from Man City fans after yesterday’s loss at The Etihad Stadium for the way Everton set their stall out to defend and catch City on the break. It worked for 75 mins but a breakthrough goal by Balotelli finally broke their resolve. Personally, I don’t have any problem with how they played, and I think most Everton fans agree. The gulf in talent level was huge and Moyes is known as a manager who does what he can to win points.
Next weekend will be an interesting game to watch, and maybe one day, instead of just interesting, it will become the highly charged clash of two of England’s most passionate clubs.
I don’t see why not…..it happened in Manchester.