Merseyside derby means more to Everton, but a good spanking wouldn't go amiss
The big clash at Anfield has everyone talking. It's a big matchup of rivals who were once part of the same team but are now increasing bitter antagonists. Yes, Hicks v Gillett is turning out to be a stormer.
Everton? That's just a bit of local difficulty.
Of course, beating Everton will be a nice way of erasing the memories of last week and the events at Old Trafford. And it'll serve as a nice warm-up for a big Champions League clash with Arsenal.
But biggest game of the season? Only in the crazy world of the Bitter Blue.
Relations between the two sets of fans have deteriorated in recent years. It's increasingly hard to have a rational conversation with an Evertonian. The phrase, "If it wasn't for Heysel" has become a destructive mantra that has changed the nature of the relationship between the two sets of fans. For some, the shame of Brussels was that it stopped the 'People's Club' from claiming their rightful place as the best team in Europe. The 39 dead? Extras in Everton's "tragedy". It's deluded nonsense on so many levels but, for too many, it has come to be seen as the moment when Everton's destiny changed, when they were robbed of their chance to be a big club.
It has spawned a new ugliness in the city on derby day. Last year, there were Evertonians in the Anfield Road end making gestures mocking the Hillsborough dead and and holding up copies of The Sun to antagoinse the home fans. This was never quite "the friendly derby" of popular fiction but the younger elements on each side can't even remember a time when it felt cordial.
Which is a shame. Especially for those who remember the mid-80s. Then, for the FA Cup Final and Charity Shield games, thousands of Scousers arrived on the same trains at Euston, red and blue ski hats mixed up as we stated our collective identity with chants of "Merseyside".
The derby has become a much bigger game for Everton than us. And that galls them more than anything. Recalling the old days, I wish they weren't so resentful.
Looking forward, a good spanking at Anfield would put Everton in their place and make them even more bitter. I could live with that. All in the spirit of comradeship, of course...
Source - The Times