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Ian Rush: Everton Must Stop Feeling Sorry For Themselves Or They’ll Go Down

Ian Rush: Everton Must Stop Feeling Sorry For Themselves Or They’ll Go Down

The Merseyside derby was a feisty affair and Everton really made Liverpool work for what proved to be a difficult Premier League win.

Some supporters may have been expecting to win 4-0 but it’s not always that simple, especially when it comes to the derby.

Liverpool’s new-found strength in depth was evident as Jurgen Klopp was able to call on Luis Diaz and Divock Origi and they each made a difference from the bench with an assist and a goal to put the game to bed.

It would have been demoralising for Everton to have reached the hour mark at 0-0 only to see the fresh legs of Diaz coming on along with Origi, who has such a magnificent goalscoring record against them.

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A year or two ago, Liverpool weren’t able to impact a game like that with their substitutes. Pickford must have been trembling in his boots when he saw the sight of Origi coming on!

He’s scored so many important goals for Liverpool – the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona and the final against Tottenham stand out of course, but six derby goals against Everton is really impressive.

The winner against Wolves earlier this season was significant too. It’s no wonder he’s a cult hero around Anfield.

Penalty or no Penalty?

Much has been made of the Everton penalty claim with Joel Matip tangling with Anthony Gordon but the reality of the situation is that it’s a 50-50 call.

The problem referees have with 50-50s like that is that players go down far too easily these days, making it more difficult for the ref to make a decision.

I’m not just talking about Gordon by the way – Richarlison went down too easily at least three times. It’s no coincidence Everton have more yellow cards for diving than any other side in the league this season.

I understand Everton’s approach, they needed to do whatever they could to try and get a result out of a difficult game, but it wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t work because Liverpool eventually broke them down.

Frank Lampard may end up in a bit of hot water with the FA over his post-game comments but I don’t think he meant anything by it really, that was just his way of dealing with the frustration.

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Maybe that was just a little bit of inexperience as a manager from Frank and when things don’t go your way you get frustrated and say things you might regret. He’s only human.

Everton supposedly want answers from the Premier League’s refereeing body about the decision not to award them a penalty, but there’s a big difference between this incident and the one against Manchester City earlier in the season.

The one against City was a stone waller and they quite rightly received an apology for not getting it, but the Matip-Gordon incident at Anfield divides opinion straight down the middle.

You win some, you lose some, and unfortunately for Everton they’re in the relegation zone partly because big decisions haven’t been going their way of late.

I’d be surprised if they get an apology for this one though, it’s not an open-and-shut case like the Rodri handball at Goodison Park last month.

Who’s Going Down?

With Norwich and Watford all but gone, it’s going to be a very interesting finish to the relegation battle with Everton, Burnley and Leeds all vying for safety.

After back-to-back wins, Burnley are on a high and appear to have the momentum. Leeds are scraping through games getting a point here and there, but Everton are down on their luck.

The one thing you can’t do in a relegation battle is feel sorry for yourselves and Everton are in danger of slipping down that path because they’re not used to being in a survival dogfight.

Premier League Relegation Odds
Friday 25th November 2022
Bet365 BetVictor William Hill Coral Ladbrokes Unibet Paddy Power
 
% Chance
Nottingham Forest 63.65% 4/7
--
1/2 4/7
--
--
--
AFC Bournemouth 59.99% 4/6
--
8/13 4/7
--
--
--
Wolverhampton Wanderers 52.36% 10/11
--
10/11 10/11
--
--
--
Southampton FC 36.36% 13/8
--
13/8 7/4
--
--
--
Everton FC 36.36% 13/8
--
7/4 13/8
--
--
--
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The league table doesn’t lie, but I still think they’ll stay up. They’ve got home games against Chelsea, Brentford and Palace – all of whom have little to play for in the league – and if they can get seven points from nine at Goodison then I think that’ll get them over the line.

Watford away is another game they’ll have ear-marked as winnable, so there’s still hope for Everton, but they’ve got to make those home games count.

Visit of Villarreal

I’m not going to lie, I don’t know a huge deal about Villarreal ahead of Liverpool’s semi-final first leg, but from speaking to people in the game I’m told they’re very well organised so I’m expecting a difficult game at Anfield.

Since they’ve knocked out Juventus and Bayern Munich, Liverpool would be foolish to underestimate them, but I don’t think Klopp will do that. It might be a tighter game than some fans think, the home support may have to be patient.

The fans can make a difference but it’s important for them to stay in full voice if Liverpool struggle to break the visitors down early on, because a traditional European atmosphere at Anfield could be the difference between a good result and a bad one.

This tie is unlikely to be won in the first leg, so the visit to Villarreal in the second game is going to be crucial. But even if Liverpool only take a one-goal lead into the away leg, that will force Villarreal to attack them, and that’s when things could play into our hands.

Much like Klopp, Unai Emery is an expert over two legs so it’ll be fascinating to see them try to out-do each other given all the success they’ve had in European football over the years.

Trip To Newcastle

Newcastle away on Saturday early afternoon is a dangerous game for Liverpool to come in to on the back of a European game and Klopp will have to be very careful about how he approaches this match.

They’re flying at the minute and their home support is as good as anyone’s in the country so they’ll all be bang up for a crack at one of the big two to get a true measure of where they’re at.

They’ve gone from 19th to 9th under Eddie Howe, who has his team working really hard and playing some good stuff. If they can beat Liverpool this weekend, they’ll prove to themselves that they can compete with the best, which could increase their expectations ahead of next season.

Bruno Guimaraes looks like a hell of a signing, the fans love him already and you can see his confidence growing with every performance at the moment. He’s one Liverpool will have to keep quiet this Saturday.

Sterling Future

According to transfer specialist Fabrizio Romano, Raheem Sterling has held discussions with Manchester City over a new deal but as things stand his contract will expire next summer.

I rate Raheem very highly as a player and although he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves, his statistics speak for themselves. I remember him as a young lad at Liverpool – I coached him a few times.

He was always very quick and he reminded me a lot of Michael Owen back then because he was so fast he’d create chances for himself with his breath-taking speed.

People might not put his finishing in Owen’s category these days but he’s still a special player and City are lucky to have him. His relationship with Pep Guardiola has been hot and cold for a number of years now so it wouldn’t surprise me if he ran his contract down.



If he was available on a free transfer next summer, would I take him back at Liverpool? On a professional basis, you’d have to say he’d improve the squad.

I can’t see it happening though because free transfers generally come with enormous wage demands and, since Sterling will be 28 next summer, it’s not the sort of deal the Liverpool owners like to buy in to.

He could do a job for anyone in the league, but the manner in which he left Liverpool for City in 2015 would likely prompt opposition from some fans, which would be another stumbling block.

I can’t see Liverpool going in for him, if I’m honest, but any of the other top teams in the league – or abroad – could do a lot worse than signing Sterling on a free if he were to run his contract down next year.

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Pochettino Future

If reports coming out of France are correct, Mauricio Pochettino’s days are numbered at PSG. That’s the nature of the beast when you take on a job like that and I imagine the writing was always on the wall for him following their early exit from the Champions League.

Antonio Conte is being linked with the PSG job which could open the door for Poch to return to Tottenham. But if that merry-go-round doesn’t materialise, he’ll be linked with every decent job going over the summer and into next season if he’s still out of work.

Pochettino is a top coach but I believe he’s most at home in the Premier League. Don’t expect Spurs to let Conte go without a fight, though, because he’s doing a good job there and they’ll get stronger if he stays.

Dementia in Football

I welcome this week’s news that the FA and FIFA are collaborating to invest £1.3million into researching ways to reduce the risk of dementia in footballers.

It’s been a long time coming but after many years of loved ones campaigning for more to be done to tackle the problem, it’s a relief to see it get the investment it deserves.

I’ve seen some older ex-players really struggle with dementia and I do wonder if it’ll happen to me one day. It’s a scary thought, so we have to help players – past and present – as much as we can to safeguard the future of the game.

I don’t know what sort of money is needed to research these things thoroughly, but if the money the FA and FIFA have ringfenced isn’t enough, perhaps governments can get involved and pledge money towards it.

People may point to the money floating about professional football these days, but this is about football at every single level which is why government commitment may be required.

Kids aren’t allowed to practice heading the ball at youth level and I worry about the future of the skill. It’s an art, and it would take an awful lot of getting used to if heading had to be outlawed from the beautiful game, it would change the sport completely.

No one wants to see that. Not here, not the world over. But until the subject is given the attention it deserves we run the risk of that happening. If we do end up in a world without heading in football, we’ll have to learn to live with it – the safety of those who play the game is more important.

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