Derby day spoils are shared as Dan Holland looks back on a day in the sunshine.
Liverpool 0-0 Everton
Walking down Anfield Road it soon became apparent that this wasn’t just an ordinary home game, it was derby day and the game that divides an otherwise united City. Whether you’re Red or Blue bragging rights at work, school or down the pub is one of the most important factors of any season.
Outside one of the terraced houses on Anfield Road sat a family around a child’s patio table, mum and dad with three kids all kitted out in this season’s home kit under a LFC parasol. They may have just been enjoying one of the nicest days of the year so far but it was also clearly a show of their allegiance.
Whether I was taken over by the occasion and the weather but I had a really good feeling and was confident we were about to witness something quite special. Well I got that one wrong didn’t I! What we actually saw were two sides that are very evenly matched albeit in totally different ways.
Everton are an ageing side with a workmanlike attitude throughout their squad which is testament to their manager David Moyes, not many of their side is coveted by other clubs except from maybe Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini but they are always in the top half of the league chasing European Places. What they lack is a real world class game changing player which is probably the reason they haven’t gone on to the next stage of challenging for trophies [Tell ya ma, ya ma to wipe away all the tears, no trophy for 18 years].
Liverpool on the other hand are beginning yet another new journey under Brendan Rogers who is a moulding a young skilful team that lack maturity and with it the ‘nous’ to finish off teams which is why we haven’t been knocking on the Champions League door this season. We have got that world class player in Luis Suarez, but he was serving the 2nd of his well-publicised ten game ban – and boy did we need him today.
At the start of the game that was a great touch from the club who arranged a mosaic on the Kop saying simply “thanks”, this was an idea of journalist Brian Reade designed to acknowledge the blue half of Merseyside’s help in the increasingly successful Justice campaign. The thought appeared to well received by the blue noses but regrettably the mindless minority still managed to spout their diatribe with chants of ‘Murderers’ and ‘Always the Victims it’s never your fault’. What happened to the friendly Derby – but that’s a topic for another day.
The atmosphere in the hoping ten minutes was spectacular with both sets of fans making their voices heard and urging their respective teams on. This was mirrored on the pitch with a frenetic opening, with tackles flying in everywhere with that added assertion in the hope of stamping their authority on the game. A number of tackles could have been punished with yellow cards in the early stages but sensible refereeing from Michael Oliver ensured a number of players weren’t nervous for the remaining 80+ minutes.
As the game settled down it was apparent that both defences had the better of the opposition’s forwards with Jamie Carragher, playing in his 30th Merseyside Derby, and Daniel Agger both having good games and comfortably coping with Victor Anichebe and Fellaini. They were ably supported by both full backs with Glen Johnson solid in defence, but less so going forward today and Jose Enrique who was for me sensational in both halves of the field. I don’t think we have any concerns in the full back positions next season but we quite obviously are going to have to strengthen centrally. The loss of Carragher leaves us short of not just a superb defender but an organiser in chief which isn’t easily replaced.
The Everton defence were largely pinned back in their own half which deprived them of good options going forward where normally Coleman and Baines excel. At the heart of their defence Jagielka and Distin were equally as impressive as their Liverpool counterparts and on the whole nullified the threat of the ever alert Coutinho, the pace of Daniel Sturridge and the work rate of Henderson. Unfortunately Downing was largely anonymous today which left us light in numbers on more than one occasion.
Somebody who was certainly ‘up for it’ today was our skipper Steven Gerrard, in these games his passion as a fan comes through as well as his usual combative performances. It gives him that extra muscle in the tackle, that extra bit of pace, that extra bit of accuracy on his passes (those two 60-70 yard passes in the first half were irresistible) all he didn’t have today was a finish to round of an otherwise perfect display from surely the best ever Liverpool player?
As the game wore on the pace slowed, was it the sign of two small squads tiring at the end of another brutal premiership season or were their minds already on a beach somewhere, either way it resulted in a rather dull derby which had started very brightly but unfortunately didn’t carry on throughout the full 90 minutes.
The only talking points of note were the disallowed Everton goal, where Anichebe was adjudged to have impeded an advancing Reina, having not seen a replay yet I cannot comment on the validity of the ‘goal’ but if it was wrongly ruled out the old adage of “it evens itself out over a season” could never be truer, remember Luis’ ‘goal’ at Woodison?
The other was a trademark burst into the box by Gerrard who rounded Howard only to see Distin make up the ground and clear the skippers shot off the line.
So the curtain has nearly come down on Brendan’s first season at the helm. I have already started my seasons review but will wait until after the QPR game to bring it to you all. The QPR game promises to be an emotional affair as we bid a fond farewell to Jamie Carragher although I hope he will return to the dugout as either coach or manager in the not too distant future.