‘We’re really, really bad’: Liverpool and Everton fans on the Merseyside derby

Sachin Nakrani How would you describe the mood of supporters going into the derby?

Mark Mosey There’s always that sense of local pride and desire for bragging rights but from an Everton point of view it’s lowered in recent years because the disparity in quality between both teams has been so enormous. It’s hard for Evertonians to feel optimistic about this fixture, especially at Anfield, because they tend to end the same way – with a Liverpool win.

Matt Jones I’d add the rivalry has diminished in recent years because of the nature of the results, too. It feels like Liverpool write their own script in this fixture – your captain scores a hat-trick, you score a last-minute winner after the ball hits the bar twice and falls to one of your strikers, you win at Wembley in the last minute, you win at Goodison in the last minute … it gets to a point as an Evertonian where you’ve got to accept it’s probably not going to happen for you in these games.

Chris Pajak For a good few years now it feels as if Everton have gone into the derby scared of the red shirts they’re going to face. They’ve been beaten before they’ve taken to the pitch. The Everton I grew up with was the ‘Dogs of War’ Everton – they had an identity built on being aggressive, hard to beat. Teams would fear facing them, including Liverpool. That’s why I think Sean Dyche is a good appointment for you guys – he’ll bring some of that back to the club. He already has if the performance against Arsenal is anything to go by.

Ste Hoare It’s pretty clear Sean Dyche’s Everton are going to be unapologetically Everton, which as Chris says is an Everton that isn’t intimidated by playing against better players. We’ve had so many Everton teams come to Anfield in recent years and try and play footie against us, and that’s never going to work. This is the first time in a long time I’m going into a derby expecting to face an Everton side that gets in our faces, and that worries me, especially given they’ll be facing a Liverpool team low in confidence.

MM It’s fair to say Frank Lampard’s stock fell more in that Arsenal game than in any game he was actually in charge of at Everton. As fans we know we’ve not got the greatest team that’s ever graced Goodison Park but at least now we have a manager who knows how to make the best of what he’s got to work with. Already they look a much better coached team.

MJ I 100% feel more confident of staying up now Dyche is our manager. But that’s also dependent on Dominic Calvert-Lewin staying fit because he’s crucial to the way Dyche clearly wants to set this team up. We’ve got 18 games left – if Dom plays between 10 and 12 of those, we’ll probably be alright.

Sean Dyche gestures to his Everton players during last week’s victory over Arsenal at Goodison Park
Sean Dyche gestures to his Everton players during last week’s victory over Arsenal at Goodison Park. Photograph: Paul Greenwood/Shutterstock

SN Things may be improving on the pitch for Everton but things remain hugely troubled off it. Safe to say the relationship between the fanbase and the board is beyond repair?

MJ The club’s PR during the last couple of weeks of January was as bad as you can get and they’ve put themselves into a corner from where it’s hard to see a way back. What’s for sure is that the protests are not going to stop anytime soon – there’s an awareness from the fans that while we need to back those 11 lads in blue whenever we go through the turnstiles, there is a need, before and after games, to make our displeasure with the board clear, because this is the worst run club in the Premier League and unless there is major change at the top things are never going to improve for Everton.

MM Ultimately the problems at Everton lead back to Farhad Moshiri. The man is simply not fit to run a football club. There has been a catalogue of errors and he has consistently repeated those errors, whether that’s appointing the wrong manager, going to the wrong people to sign players, or getting on the phone to Jim White every five seconds. Quite frankly his decision making and communication skills are laughable.

Mark Mosey, left, and Matt Jones from The Blue Room podcast. Both feel major changes are required in regards to the ownership of Everton
Mark Mosey, left, and Matt Jones from The Blue Room podcast. Both agree major changes are required in regards to the ownership of Everton. Photograph: Colin McPherson/The Observer

SN Right, lets focus on the Reds. Chris and Ste, simple question: Why are Liverpool so terrible at football right now?

CP It’s a simple question with an incredibly difficult answer … four of our lads last season played over 4,500 minutes, another four of our lads played over 3,000 minutes, our top-10 were all over 3,000 minutes, in what was a 63-game season. Those top-10 players who played the most minutes last season have missed 56 games this season, in large part because of muscle injuries. Sometimes you can look at a side and be surprised at their drop off, but in Liverpool’s case there was data which showed this was likely to happen: when Manchester City won the treble and got to the quarter-finals of the Champions League [in 2018-19] they played a near 60-game season. The following season we finished 20-odd points ahead of them to win the league and got egotistical, thinking that happened because we were brilliant. No one thought it may have been because of what a 60-game season had done to Manchester City. We should have learned from that.

Then there’s all the upheaval behind the scenes – a director of football who had a great relationship with the manager and a great track record in regards to signing players leaves; he trains up his replacement who after six months decides he doesn’t want the job anymore and, of course, the owners are looking to sell up. No club can be successful on the pitch unless everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet off it – that was the case at Liverpool for many years and was key to why we were so successful. It’s not the case right now, across the entire club, and, not surprisingly, we’re not being successful.

SH It feels like we’ve got a tool kit and we’re trying to knock a nail in with a spanner, because we’re asking lads to do things they physically can’t do anymore. That’s through a combination of age, minutes in their legs and because at some point you either need to change the message or change the players and nothing’s really changed at Liverpool, on the pitch at least.

Jürgen [Klopp] is probably guilty of being too loyal and too confident with what he had, which you can’t blame him for given how close we came to winning everything last season. It would’ve been hard for him to look at his players after last season and say, ‘You’re going’, ‘You’re going’, ‘You’re going’, ‘You’re going’. So he doubled down on his belief in the squad and ultimately they’ve not been able to go again. Hopefully what’s clear to him now is that this summer there needs to be change. To be fair the transition has already started but overall it’s been a case of one season too far with this particular group of lads.

A dejected-looking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Darwin Núñez alongside Mohamed Salah following Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Wolves last week
A dejected-looking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Darwin Núñez alongside Mohamed Salah following Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Wolves last week. Photograph: Shaun Brooks/Action Plus/REX/Shutterstock

SN Is there a worry within the fanbase that Klopp can’t take Liverpool any further?

SH I’d like to think the club would never sack Jürgen Klopp but if we lose our next five games than even he would come under pressure.

MJ Surely there’s no pressure on Klopp …

SH Not from the fans – well, apart from the usual weirdos on Twitter – but there would be a lot of noise and possibly too much noise for the board. What’s for sure is that things aren’t right at Liverpool and, if anything, it’s been underreported in the national media just how bad we’ve been this season. We’ve been really, really bad.

MM From the outside looking in, it feels like one of the benefits you have in having a manager like Klopp who’s been at the club for a long time and achieved a lot of success during that time is the players will be in no doubt of the standards required. The likes of James Milner and Jordan Henderson … as soon as they feel they’re not able to play in the style that has been drilled into them season after they season, it won’t take much for them to say, ‘You know what, I’m done here’. That should make the change that is required at the club easier and smoother.

CP That’s true but the club needed to address the likelihood of that happening sooner. They didn’t get [Aurélien] Tchouaméni in the summer and thought ‘OK, we can go another season without a midfielder’. That’s mad when you look at the age profile of the midfield. And they clearly knew they needed a midfielder because they got Arthur Melo in September, and after he gets injured having played for six minutes or something ridiculous like that they still don’t get a midfielder in despite seeing us constantly get legged in the centre of the pitch. They must be very confident of signing Jude Bellingham in the summer, regardless of Champions League football, but what if we don’t get him, who do we move to? It’s a seriously risky strategy and again points to a club that isn’t functioning as well as it should do and used to do.

Chris Pajak, left, and Ste Hoare from Redmen TV. Both agree Liverpool need major changes on the pitch next season
Chris Pajak, left, and Ste Hoare from Redmen TV. Both agree Liverpool need major changes on the pitch next season. Photograph: Colin McPherson/The Observer

SN Back to Monday – how do Everton go about winning at Anfield? And how much would it mean to secure what would be only their second victory there this century?

MJ Everton have got to replicate what they did against Arsenal and make sure they’re still in the game after an hour. Calvert-Lewin also has to be fit. There’s no way we’re getting anything out of this game if he isn’t there. In terms of what it would mean … it’s not so much about beating Liverpool now, it’s more about getting away from the relegation zone. Of course it would be sweet to win and we’d all absolutely love it, but the most satisfying thing about winning on Monday would be being able to look at the league table and say, ‘We’re above Leeds’ or ‘We’re above West Ham’.

MM I totally agree with that – my attention on the back of a derby win on Monday night would very quickly turn to who Nottingham Forest are playing next. That is what the prospect of relegation takes away from you – the pure, emotional joy of beating a local rival. There are sadly far bigger things to worry about.

SN What do Liverpool fans what to see from their team on Monday?

CP Similar to what Matt said to be honest – if we could be at nil-nil on 70 minutes that would be a great starting point.

SH Same. We’ve conceded the first goal in 12 of 20 Premier League games this season. We’ve also conceded five goals in the first five minutes of games. That simply has to stop, especially as we’re not good enough to come back from that at the moment. It’s mad to say this about Monday given we’re at home, but we just need to have 10 minutes of relative calm.

SN Would you take a draw?

CP As a Liverpool fan I would never take a draw before a game of football. There always exists the possibility of three points with us so I’m always going to roll the dice.

MM As an Everton fan I’d always take a draw at Anfield. To be honest, we could be 2-0 up on 89 minutes at Anfield and I’d still take a draw!

Chris Pajak and Ste Hoare are from Redmen TV. Mark Mosey and Matt Jones are from The Blue Room podcast. Thanks to The Denbigh Castle for hosting. For more information, visit: www.thedenbighcastle.co.uk

source: theguardian.com