Reaction: Everton v Liverpool

Liverpool were beaten 3-0 in the Goodison derby this afternoon and now Liverpool fans will spend the next few months listening to Everton fans go on and on and on about their win. The rematch is back at Anfield but not until next February.

Liverpool’s season isn’t over though. Shake the hands of the bluenoses you get the stick from in the next few days and tell them: “well done, you deserved it” – that will leave them so confused they’ll not know what to say back to you, allowing you to divert the conversation to something not related to sport.

Liverpool lost, end of story. It would be nice if Rafa’s words before the game were actually listened to by the Premier League. He pointed out how stupid it was to play a game when he only has one full day with his players before the fixture is played. It’s not something that can be used as an excuse for today, but it needs to be dealt with. There are other incidents that can be analysed throughout the game, including a referee who still hasn’t recovered from his momentous errors in the World Cup finals, but overall it’s best to forget about those issues. Liverpool needed to score – and they couldn’t.

The result might be a little flattering to Everton, but not completely.
In a strange way Everton were not worthy of being 1-0 up, or 2-0 up,
but by the end of the game 3-0 wasn’t as far off an honest assessment
as it might seem. There were some raised eyebrows at Craig Bellamy
being left out of the squad, but Rafa chose the 16 players who he
thought would be best to do the job. The lack of goals from the players
on the pitch won’t be lost on Bellamy though; who will now be hopeful
he gets into the team again for the next fixture – Tuesday’s trip to
Holland for the opening Champions League Group fixture against PSV.

John Arne Riise came back into the squad but went back out of it again.
His recovery from injury obviously not complete, now he’s got the same
problem again and will be out for at least a fortnight. Steve Warnock’s
also out, and Jamie Carragher is not fully fit. This means we’re stuck
with Fabio Aurelio at left-back, and I don’t feel that’s how Rafa
wanted to introduce him to English football, I really feel Rafa wanted
to use him further forward until he’d got used to how the game is

Reina was at fault for Everton’s icing on the victory cake, and now his
critics will be out of the woodwork (or whatever goalposts are made
from these days) to emphasise that error. Truth be told Reina is an
excellent ‘keeper but not infallible, and he’ll make mistakes now and
again. He needs to be able to learn from his mistakes without letting
the stick he gets ruin his confidence. Too many Liverpool keepers have
been half-decent keepers ruined by a lack of confidence. David James,
Brad Friedel and Sander Westerveld were probably all victims of the
condemnation dished out for every minor error. Ray Clemence was
arguably one of our best-ever keepers, but if he’d been analysed as
closely as other keepers in the Reds goalie shirt he’d have left a long
time before Brucie turned up at our door.

That’s my view of today’s match, what did those involved think?

Rafael Benítez focussed mainly on the defence, saying: “We will have to
improve in defence. We made a lot of mistakes, too many mistakes and in
football you pay for them. In the second half we went forward and
created chances but couldn’t score so in the end we paid for that.”

Reflecting a view that Liverpool would do well to stick to, Rafa said
there’s no point getting upset now about a penalty decision that won’t
ever be changed: “I think it was clear but can you change the final
score now? No – we have to think about the mistakes we made.” It’s a
good philosophy from Rafa, and it’s good not to start making ourselves
sound like the generally bitter team from the same city as us.

Rafa is convinced that Liverpool made their own luck in this match: “We
made a lot of mistakes, and in football you pay for them. In the second
half we went forward and created chances but couldn’t score.”

Rafa also confirmed Riise’s ankle injury was the same as the one he’d
been out with: “It’s the same ankle now we have to wait and see. It’s
not serious but John will be out for the next 10 to 15 days” The player
will no doubt undergo scans this weekend to see how great the damage
actually is.

Another player who’s been struggling with an ankle injury was Jamie
Carragher, and with the interviewer pursuing the angle that Rafa had
taken too many risks by using players less than 100% fit, the Spaniard
had to defend his decision: “I think he was okay, he was training the
last two days but it was not just one player to blame in the defence.”

Everton’s Tim Cahill spoke about how pleased he was that Everton have
finally got a striker on their books. Andy Johnson cost them
£8.5million and actually scores goals. He says that James Beattie and
James McFadden are even happier: “Beatts and Fanny have been waiting
for a striker to partner them and he can be the final piece in the

Cahill carried on a bit more: “AJ is an unbelievable striker and is
going to get goals. He fought hard and showed character and now he
knows what it means to be a blue.”

Do you know how hard it is for me not to put a sarcastic comment in
here relating to my own definition of what it means to be a blue? Very
hard, but I’ll try and resist.

I put an article on the Anfield Road Voice blog earlier speaking about
how Everton treat derbies like they are their most important matches of
the season, and Cahill does give that impression in his over-enthusiasm
for his new striker. “Final piece in the jigsaw” makes it sound like
Everton’s poor season last time round was all because they were one
player short of a successful squad. Let’s hope they keep thinking that!

Johnson himself had this to say: “It was amazing. The fans were
brilliant; the boys were looking forward to it all week. It was a great
three points. This was a massive occasion but we have to keep our feet
on the ground. There are some tough games ahead.” See – like their cup
final as I said!

The manager who looks like a certain Lord of the Rings character was
also ecstatic that they’d beaten Merseyside’s big club (not that he
calls them that of course). He said: “We have not won many in the past
against Liverpool, who have a terrific team but give credit to the
players. They have done this in pre-season we wanted to make that
happen.” I’ve no idea what that last sentence means – I think there’s a
word missing from it somewhere. Finally though Moyes realised that the
game isn’t actually anything more than a league game, saying:  “In the
end, though, it’s only three points. We’ve had some bad games against
Liverpool but hopefully we have made improvements.”

He didn’t go as far as saying that Andy Johnson was the final piece in
the jigsaw, but did rave on about him, which I suppose is fair enough:
“We always said he would score goals but for his second he said ‘I’m
going to gamble here’. We are pleased to have him”

It’s fair to say that Liverpool trouble for some time now has been in
winning the games where our opponents treat the match like a cup final.
Joking apart about Everton’s treatment of derbies, Liverpool seem to be
embarrassed far too often against teams that we should be beating,
simply because we look shell-shocked at how “up for it” our opponents
are. Rafa addressed this to a certain extent last season, and hopefully
will do so again this time round too.

Funnily enough, Liverpool’s next league game will be played like it’s a
cup final. This time though both sides will be treating it as such
because Chelsea are the opponents. We owe the “New Enemy” a decent
league beating, and Stamford Bridge a week tomorrow is as good a place
as any.