I’m going to try and make this the last blog update of the week as I’ve gone overboard this week, mainly cos it’s the first week and it was my birthday as well as a midweek game so yeh, last update of this week.
I remember a couple of seasons back doing my regular Saturday trip to Goodison and picking up my regular copy of Everton fanzine When Skies are Grey, ironically, I think it was the Saturday when we famously came from 1-0 down to beat Utd 3-1. Anyway, before the match started I remember sitting in my seat reading an article in WSAG about the relationship between Everton and Utd. Now this may not be a direct quote but I recall the opening sentence of the article being something along the lines of “There’s an old saying that goes the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This got me thinking, as an Evertonian and a Scouser I can’t stand Utd and I’m certainly not a big fan of Manchester itself neither, but, and as much as I hate to say it, yeh there is a somewhat deep and certainly well hidden..respect? Admiration? Nah I wouldn’t even go that far, I can’t think of the word right now but most understand what I’m getting at here.
Ever since the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 the relationship between Scousers and Mancs has been, well, somewhat unpleasant and this has especially shown on the terraces over the years. However, the main rivalry between the cities has shown mainly between Liverpool and Utd, granted Everton and City have a somewhat rivalry going but, let’s be honest, it’s nought compared to the other two, who naturally HATE each other to the point where some VERY unpleasant and vile chants have been sang towards each others fans regarding tragedies that have scarred both football clubs.
So where does the whole concept of “Enemy of my enemy” kick in? Well I can only speak on my own behalf but I’m sure at least one or two fellow Blues will agree. We hate United too but we hate Liverpool more and let’s be honest seeing Liverpool knocked off their perch and fall from grace over the years only to be replaced by their, now, biggest rivals does somewhat make us smirk. Most Liverpool fans will brand us as “bitter” for this but let’s be honest, the second things start going pear shaped for Utd, Liverpool’s fans are the first to jump the joke bandwagon, I mean, christ, you would have thought Liverpool beat Utd in Champions League Final back in May and not Barcelona. I don’t think it’s “bitter” it’s rivalry and it’s all part and package of a rivalry.
Another part of the “admiration” (I really don’t like using that word) for Utd I suppose comes from the fact that over the years, despite the dodgy ref decisions, unnecessary added time and some of the nasty tackles (usually from Paul Scholes), Utd’s squad has consistently oozed with class. You would expect this from a club with a big budget, however, there is something different about Utd than the other big spenders like Liverpool, City, Chelski and Arse. Despite the fact they have the money, let’s be honest, only spend the big bucks when necessary and have picked up some bargains compared to other clubs signings. Granted, as well, they have signed some shite players over the years like any other club but look at some of the signings they’ve made over the year. Ronaldo from Lisbon for £12.5m, I mean c’mon imagine a team trying to sign him for that much now, they’d probably get sued for slander. Another one, a bit closer to home, is the signing of our old boy wonder Wazza, signed for £35m (after add ons) in 2004, the same amount was spent by Liverpool last season on Andy Carroll. Now I’m not taking the piss here but I know who I would rather have in my club.
Utd are now the most successful club in the England after knocking Liverpool off their perch last year and winning the League trophy for the 19th time and I suppose the man to thank for this is Sir Alex Ferguson. Love him or hate him, the moaning, whiskey nosed angry Scotsman is the most successful manager in English League History. Granted, Bob Paisley brought back 20 trophies to Anfield in his 9 year tenure at Liverpool which, I suppose, makes him the most successful manager in the shortest time, but that certainly isn’t a way to discredit Fergie who is now approaching towards his 40th trophy (37 now to be exact). When it comes to the famous Managerial names, Whiskey nose has certainly placed himself up at the top of the pile with the likes of Shankley, Paisley, Kendall, Catterick, Revie and Clough, a good achievement considering at one point in the early days of his tenure Utd fans wanted him out.
So, after all that, United arrive at Goodison on Saturday for the early kick off and needless to say that lot will be hurting right now. Despite wiping aside Aldershot in the cup midweek, let’s be honest, after Sunday’s embarrassing thrashing to next door neighbours, Abu Dhabi FC, Utd will be after blood. Oh Great! what a time to play them, especially after the 120 minutes of Wednesday night against Chelsea. Our record against Utd as it is isn’t fantastic. If memory serves me correct ever since the beginning of the Premiership I think we have only beaten Utd 6 times, 3 times at Goodison, once at Old Trafford and twice at Wembley. However, in the last couple of seasons we’ve caused them a bit of upset including two great comebacks of 1-0 down to win 3-1 and last years 3-1 down to draw 3-3 in extra time so there is hope yet. Unfortunately, I don’t see a good result from this one. Like I said, Utd are hurting right now, there’s nothing worse than getting beat by your neighbours but getting thrashed 6-1 AT HOME is certainly a bitter, bitter pill to swallow so without any doubt Utd will be after blood and are gonna want to wipe the floor with us. I think Everton in this case have to try and go at them and try and hurt them more but at the same time keep their heads up defensively because we all know Utd’s ability to score on the break is what kill opposition off constantly. Like I say I’m not overly confident about this fixture but hopefully if we can keep it together we can pull away with a point, perhaps a 1-1, but who knows we’ve upset them before, we can do it again. I’ll leave you with one of the famous moments of upset against Utd from a few seasons ago. Still gives me shivers watching this.