Due to the unforeseen, I've had to sit out most of the games so far this season. It's been frustrating not to be at Goodison Park, especially when, after years of darkness, it would appear, that somebody has finally found the light switch. Anyway, patient grandkids – using a technology I will never understand – has meant I haven't missed a kick.
I like what I've seen so far from our new signings. After seeing a lot of Zouma last season I have been delighted and surprised by his performances so far. Gomes has been a revelation (knew he would be) and it's been fascinating to see Silva attempt to change his star signing from a left-winger into an out-and-out striker. An idea I would like to see him persevere with, the rewards can be considerable.
When Wenger moved Henry from the left to a more central role, he didn't just plug a hole. He discovered he had been wasting a world-class striker by playing him out wide. Bernard has been a great find too, my kind of player, although it's already clear he will both delight and infuriate in equal measure... He's got soul, but he's not a soldier.
Bringing in Marcel Brands has proven to be a bit of a masterstroke, but he shouldn't be given all the credit, this is very much a double act. It's not just the new signings who have shone. Having shaken off injuries most of us were unaware of, Keane and Gana have been transformed. The whole team has.
Silva may not always get his tactics right, but he is a quick learner: he knew very early that he could not get away with the pure zonal marking he was asking of his players, so he has changed it to a more modern mix with some players marking obvious dangers and others protecting space. Still not perfect, but you would expect Mina to improve things still further. Silva wanted Schniederlin to do a job for him but ditched him like a stone when he realised he wasn't the man. Unlike previous managers, he is not persevering with things that don't work.
I said earlier that Silva doesn't always get his tactics right... and he doesn't, but he has brought something to our team which has been missing for years... even decades. He's brought bravery – bravery and courage. I'm not talking about the run-through-a-brick-wall type of bravery you would often see from a Davey Moyes team. I'm talking about people being prepared to take another touch, not being panicked into getting shut, players who would look the other way and leave a teammate isolated last season are now showing for the ball, no matter where they are on the pitch.
What we are watching now is not the spineless possession obsession Martinez's team would indulge in whenever the opposition were camped in their own half. We always knew that team could be panicked into surrendering possession as soon as the opposition pressed. This is different; we are passing it with purpose, with an intent. Press Silva's team and they will not just pass it around you. they'll look to advance and punish you. The man on the ball has a far greater belief; that only comes through teammates giving them more options.
The team took a little bit of flack after the narrow win against Cardiff and it has to be said some of the errors did appear unforced, but I'm putting it down to ambition. I lost count of the number of "nearly" balls that just failed to meet the target. After years of watching players take the safe option, often not even daring to pass in front of their teammates, I'll accept failure through ambition like that all day long.
And so to Mordor. They hate us, you know. Sure they will tell you they have bigger fish to fry these days, or that they don't worry about us, but they hate us with all their hearts... and they fear us. They've given us their best shots down the years, but we are still standing, still here. We haven't gone away. They know our time will come and they know what misery awaits them when it does.
I don't fear the mythical jinx this weekend, I'm not searching for early excuses, I'm not worried about a slope on the pitch, or that the wind will be against us in both halves. I won't lose any sleep because we are playing in front of 50,000 anthem singers who feel they can influence every decision. I don't care that a sign will remind our players that "This is Anfield" when they leave the dressing room. As Peter Reid famously said when he passed under it, "So fucking what?"
Let them worry about us, after years of listening to their taunts as we shuffled across Stanley Park in the vain hope that one of the Frankies leading us would get lucky... We go with a different attitude; this Everton is not coming to limit the damage, steal a point. We are coming for their crown. We want to be kings of this city – not just for this weekend but for years to come.
Reader Comments (64)
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1 Posted 28/11/2018 at 08:58:27
Well written, Darren!
2 Posted 28/11/2018 at 09:18:43
3 Posted 28/11/2018 at 09:24:38
Interestingly I read on a recent article about Andre Gomes that we first approached Brands in 2016, before we appointed Walsh. So it would seem that Moshiri had him as his first choice from the start. I am glad he eventually got his man.
Also, and I don't know if this is true or just revisionist history on my part, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that Moshiri was also interested in Marco Silva when he was still at Olympiacos. If true, he eventually got his man there as well.
What isn't revisionist history is my comment to my youngest son (10 at the time) when Silva took over at Hull. After a few games, I said the guy would be a top manager one day and I hoped that Everton would get him first.
As you say, he is still "learning on the job" to get the best out of our team, but he is showing more talent in this area than our previous three.
Well done, Mr Moshiri. From a re-enthused, long-time, Evertonian.
4 Posted 28/11/2018 at 09:29:45
5 Posted 28/11/2018 at 09:30:22
I'm going to Anfield expecting Everton to match them and fight, intelligently, for 90-odd minutes. We are now a team, not complete yet, that is going to get better and better.
Darren, you are right, the Liverpool fans know they will see a much stronger and tougher team, mentally, than in the last few years. They are tense about this game – that will transfer to their players the more the game goes on. We are going for a victory – not to try and get a draw.
Let the best team win and let it be us. Great post, Darren.
6 Posted 28/11/2018 at 10:48:58
That is one inspirational article you wrote there. My eyes filled up and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.
I sincerely hope your unforseen circumstances are behind you and all is good with you. Great to have you back. All the best.
7 Posted 28/11/2018 at 11:02:07
I think we match or better them in every department except out wide. Salah, Mane, Robertson, and Alexander-Arnold provide more offensive quality than our like-for-like players.
Digne is excellent but doesn't maraud forward with the same pace as Robertson, and sadly Coleman is still some way off his best. I really hope he can raise his game on Sunday, and he simply must improve his crossing and passing.
Salah and Mane are far more productive than Walcott and Bernard. Although, like Darren, I like Bernard and believe he will get a lot better.
So, somehow we need to squeeze their width inside and then counter at speed. I believe our performance this weekend will make us all proud. The Cardiff match came after the international break and players like Richarlison could not be expected to perform at their best when they were recovering from niggles and playing for their countries. He had only been back a couple of days before the match.
Like Darren says, he needs to continue up front as I believe he is going to become world class. He just needs to continue learning. He's a grafter with bags of talent. He'll learn quickly and we'll be forced to fend off £100M bids in the summer. But we will successfully fend them off, and we will get to watch him and this team turn this league on its head.
8 Posted 28/11/2018 at 11:03:59
9 Posted 28/11/2018 at 11:14:56
Mordor will be nervous if we hold our own... and I'm sure we will. We are a top 6 side – we have the personnel and the form. Let's hope we have the mentality on the day.
10 Posted 28/11/2018 at 12:39:41
This, I believe, is the biggest difference this season.
The biggest one for this is Gomes, doesn't panic and isn't afraid to take a man on instead of a poor forced pass to a marked man.
11 Posted 28/11/2018 at 13:21:11
The semi-final at Wembley was the time we should have banished our fears of them. 1-0 up at half-time and cruising only for Distin to make that error and Seamus commits a stupid foul so they can put it in our box with Carroll waiting. Martinez's first derby should have seen us win as well. Another soft free kick by Distin allowing them to equalise. Calvert-Lewin should have won it at Goodison last season too.
I am hoping Silva brings a fresh approach and goes out there to play with no fear. I have to admit that they are a good side these days. I read something in the Observer on Sunday which said that this has been the RS's best ever start to a season (and not just in the Sky Premier League era).
I'd love us to take their unbeaten status off them but we've been here before so many times. We are definitely better and there is optimism around the club but I still think there's a big gulf between us.
Not since Duncan Ferguson's first period with us have I ever felt confident in derby games.
12 Posted 28/11/2018 at 13:43:35
13 Posted 28/11/2018 at 14:20:40
And of course I'm glad to think Darren will be back to chip in with his thoughts.
14 Posted 28/11/2018 at 16:15:42
I hope your recovery is complete and you will soon be back at Goodison watching a "big 6" side.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to break the Anfield hoodoo but it is there for a reason – usually red cards and /or penalties against us.
I just hope enough of our supporters get in there to make the Blue army felt and that our boys can make up for the officials' bias and their goal threat.
15 Posted 28/11/2018 at 16:53:24
16 Posted 28/11/2018 at 17:55:29
17 Posted 28/11/2018 at 19:19:18
18 Posted 28/11/2018 at 19:22:08
They do hate us, and I wouldn't have it any other way, except of course giving the bastards a lot more to hate us for. Now wouldn't that be lovely?
Loads of them are bringing up the derby, which tells me they must be very concerned. It's our cup final, they say... but I thought PSG tonight would have been their main concern?
As Darren says, we are still here, and maybe that's what concerns them the most.
19 Posted 28/11/2018 at 21:03:30
20 Posted 28/11/2018 at 21:58:11
Yes, John Hughes, the RS did indeed have a tough second half! That should help us on Sunday and I hope we really go at them to capitalise on it.
21 Posted 28/11/2018 at 21:59:29
22 Posted 28/11/2018 at 22:05:14
If they hadn't scored in the last minute against PSG at Anfield, they would be out already.
23 Posted 28/11/2018 at 22:16:03
Happy Christmas, everyone!
24 Posted 28/11/2018 at 22:42:30
I watched Huddersfield's last 2-0 win and I would be delighted if we were able to make an approach for Billing. Young player with lots of potential. He is a big guy who isn't afraid to muck in.
25 Posted 29/11/2018 at 00:24:47
26 Posted 29/11/2018 at 01:34:05
27 Posted 29/11/2018 at 03:56:13
One thing bothers me though, I and all of us have been here before and been so let down it doesn't bare thinking about.
I would gladly give up all of my Xmas holidays and work for no pay if we could muller them on Sunday.
C'mon Blues, this time please...
28 Posted 29/11/2018 at 04:16:53
Do us proud brave blues and pagger them. And stroll out to a new era.
29 Posted 29/11/2018 at 05:46:05
30 Posted 29/11/2018 at 07:43:48
31 Posted 29/11/2018 at 08:03:37
I've been excited and optimistic about this new era from the moment we appointed Silva and Brands but past miseries will make it hard for me to expect anything from Mordor before I see it happen.
They still have a very good team and are capable of beating any outfit in the league by a handful of goals when they are on top form.
To come away with a result, we'll need our wingers in particular to be on better form than they have been for last month or so. I do believe Silva's team can give anyone a fight though I look to Sunday more with hope than expectation.
32 Posted 29/11/2018 at 08:08:32
I was hoping to meet up for a pint when I was down there recently – let's do it next time!
I hope the unforseen passes soon and you're back to your best.
33 Posted 29/11/2018 at 08:57:25
I'm actually going to "the other place" on Sunday more confident than in many a year. Silva and Brands have clearly changed attitudes. And with a slew of new players, there'll be much less "baggage" and fear being carried by the players.
34 Posted 29/11/2018 at 09:16:08
The least I expect on Sunday is a draw. They go into the game knowing they cannot afford to drop any points so the pressure is on them to win the game.
35 Posted 29/11/2018 at 10:05:42
36 Posted 29/11/2018 at 10:52:40
I know many fans having had so many false dawns over the years are waiting to see if Silva is the real deal, but whatever the result on Sunday it will be a team playing positively and trying to win. Unlike the latter years were we set out not to lose.
I hope we hear from you again soon and that you are soon back entering Goodison Park once again.
37 Posted 29/11/2018 at 12:00:23
If Reidy did say those words, my affection for the man has grown even more. I'd have him in the dressing room for a minute or two before the game.
This game has always been as much about character as it was about talent. That is why, with a better XI on paper we lost the Semi Final in 2012 and the double in '86, and yet had a very good derby record in the 90s despite having an inferior XI.
Mina, Pickford, Seamus have character and aggression. Lookman and Richie bring fearlessness and incisiveness. Gomes and Digne bring silk and steel. Gueye and Gylfi tenacity.
Let's hope it all comes together and Blue Lion does manage to finally find its voice.
38 Posted 29/11/2018 at 12:53:28
1. Firminio is out of form and should be dropped (but Klopp is too loyal);
2. Their midfield trio of Henderson, the dutch guy and Milner are too similar and not very creative. Our midfield 3 of Sigurdsson, Gana and Gomes does look far superior TBH.
3. Their right back is not so good defensively and is shown up in big games. Perhaps one for Lookman or Bernard to shine?
4. They are not playing as well as last season – defensive frailties are creeping back and they are not free scoring.
5. They have a good keeper.
Sounds beatable to me. Okay, we're not PSG, but we're pretty handy. And we are stronger in central midfield.
39 Posted 29/11/2018 at 13:09:02
40 Posted 29/11/2018 at 13:12:58
I want us to beat them more than anything but I'm not falling for getting over-confident again because we've strung together a a few wins at home. They're still unbeaten in the league and their front 3 scare the life out of me, if I'm honest.
I hate derbies.
41 Posted 29/11/2018 at 13:42:46
I don't know if we'll win or lose this weekend, but after years of consignment to “having a go please”, I feel as if we can actually win.
There's hope again.
And as you point out, kudos to Marco for instilling this culture.
Hope you are well.
42 Posted 29/11/2018 at 18:23:11
We will get there for 5:00pm, and I imagine will there for about 3 hours. I heard from Mike about an hour ago, the Eagle has landed, and he is making his way to Euston.
I've just got home from Sheffield where I have been meeting my new grandson who was born on Monday. The lad's name is to be Maurice Johnson, take that as an omen if you wish!
43 Posted 29/11/2018 at 18:27:09
44 Posted 29/11/2018 at 18:28:31
What happened between Rooney and Igor Biscan in the tunnel please mate?
46 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:02:15
47 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:09:07
I hope he has a long happy healthy life, congratulations.
48 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:12:12
49 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:32:53
50 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:34:22
But Ill be having a few quiet chats with the boy.
51 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:46:25
52 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:50:44
53 Posted 29/11/2018 at 20:50:49
54 Posted 29/11/2018 at 21:28:36
I reckon this will disgust loads of people in this country, but it's something I can only give them praise for myself!
Same with my mates giving tickets to an American blue, and his bitter companion, and their chief executive also giving tickets to an Evertonian, who has terminal cancer and his grandson.
We used to take things like this for granted, and although I doubt it will ever get back to the way it was, it's still nice to hear such stories, because they help to restore the faith.
Let's just hope Everton restore it a load more on Sunday afternoon!
55 Posted 29/11/2018 at 22:57:57
Fantastic. Fuckin love it Darren.
It's gonna happen. Sooner than later. COYBB.
56 Posted 29/11/2018 at 22:59:35
Spent the evening in a train car full of genially sloshed Reds coming home from the PSG game. They were surprisingly pleasant to the Blue Yank in seat E43, but after two weeks with a sublime choir I can tell you that not one of them could sing worth a damn.
Looking forward to meeting you all tomorrow.
57 Posted 29/11/2018 at 23:15:12
Last season with Rooney back I wasn't surprised we got a point but later in the season at Goodison I was when things were going so poorly.
Most of the time, current form goes out of the window and maybe it's because of the crowd who bay and scream at every tackle that the games rarely produces scintillating football with referees blowing for everything.
It goes without saying that we will get nothing from the referee and if Everton finally get to win at Anfield it will have to be on merit with a great performance from the whole team.
Silva has done a remarkable job so far in turning the Koeman & Allardyce mess into something resembling a team that can be very competitive with the best of them.
Yes, there is still a long way to go and with more astute signings it could be next season before the real fruit of Silva's labors will be seen.
However, a win on Sunday against an unbeaten RS would be more than tremendous. They have to lose sometime so why not now?
58 Posted 29/11/2018 at 23:23:01
59 Posted 29/11/2018 at 23:44:53
60 Posted 30/11/2018 at 00:32:05
61 Posted 30/11/2018 at 02:29:16
Everton could pounce for first Anfield win this century
Maybe the table never lies but it sure can mislead. Perhaps Liverpool are the second-best team in the Premier League at the moment but that does not mean they are very good. So far in the league they have been unbeaten and unconvincing. The main problem is their midfield, which lacks ingenuity and suffers from waning dynamism.
Jürgen Klopp has not overhauled it swiftly enough, though at least he has started Xherdan Shaqiri in the last two leagues games to bring more inventiveness. But he deployed Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gigi Wijnaldum for Wednesday's lame Champions League defeat in Paris.
Henderson is suspended for Sunday's Merseyside derby so there's no need for him to be dropped. But there's a good case for sidelining Wijnaldum and even Milner to go with a midfield trio of Shaqiri, Naby Keïta and Fabinho. That would partly be an expression of faith in the ability of the last two to produce their best form, which has so far eluded them in the early, stop-start days of their careers at Liverpool.
Everton, meanwhile, are looking increasingly formidable. If Idrissa Gueye and André Gomes run midfield, as they may well do, then Everton could win at Anfield for the first time this century.
62 Posted 30/11/2018 at 11:36:56
Will it become the big seven if we gatecrash the top four?
Can't have one of the media darlings out of touch now, can we?
63 Posted 30/11/2018 at 13:09:46
How the fuck are you lad? I thought you'd have drank yourself to death years ago.
Funnily enough I was only talking about you the other day. I was telling some mates how you caused murder in the Jester winding up the kopites after the Varadi derby. What was the words we were using to the Sloop John B tune? I remember a couple of lines:
Drinking all night
Mocking the shite.
I came back home 3 years ago and we're living "darn souf" now. It'seems fantastic to see you are still following the mighty blues and stIrring things up.
I'll be tracking you down mate. You still owe me twenty quid... HaHa!
64 Posted 01/12/2018 at 18:17:07
I already thought we'd win tomorrow but, after reading that, I'm fucking convinced of it.
65 Posted 02/12/2018 at 14:04:01
I can't believe the way the new signings have settled and that will be the decisive factor if we do win as they don't know about the jinx that is Anfield. Oh how I will love to see every red that has tortured me for so many years and this could be the day.
Being a blue, I won't even mention it because I will still worry about the next derby but the glow in my heart will shine so bright, they won't be able to miss it.
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