The FA Cup fifth round draw has pitched two of Graeme Sharp’s former clubs against each other – but the Goodison Park legend insists he will have no split loyalties when Everton and Oldham Athletic meet next month.
Sharp, the Blues’ leading post-war goalscorer, is tipping David Moyes’ side to succeed where Liverpool succumbed and win at Boundary Park.
The Latics booked their place in the last 16 of this season’s competition with a dramatic 3-2 win over Everton’s city rivals on Sunday afternoon.
As well as his decade on Merseyside, Sharp also had a six-year spell at Oldham between 1991 and 1997, both as a player and manager – the only other English club he represented.
“It will be the first time that I will have been back to Boundary Park since I left all those years ago. It will be interesting to see if there are many changes,” Sharp told evertontv.
“I was watching the game on the television yesterday and there are still parts of the stadium that I remember and some I don’t.
“I’m looking forward to going back and I will enjoy it more if we win.”
Although Sharp is expecting Everton to negotiate their way past Paul Dickov’s Oldham team, he maintains the League One club must not be taken lightly.
Tottenham, Aston Villa, QPR and Norwich all exited the FA Cup to lower league opposition this weekend, while Everton’s unexpected defeat to the Latics in the 2007/08 season is still fresh in the 52-year-old’s mind.
Sharp continued: “I think you would say we would be favourites because we are a Premier League club playing against lower league opposition, but you can’t take anything for granted in the FA Cup.
“We have got to play better than we did against Bolton because I thought we were quite fortunate to go through on the day. There was a last-minute goal but that’s what it takes in the cup – to get to cup finals you need a little bit of luck along the way.
“I thought the opening round against Cheltenham was convincing – it could have been a tricky tie but we managed to overcome them.
“I’d like to think that if we play to our capabilities and the manager fields a very a strong side, we will be more than capable of beating Oldham and gaining a little bit of revenge.
“The last time we played them in the cup they beat us at Goodison and they will take great heart from that.
“But I think that if we play to our capabilities, we are more than capable of getting a result.”
Sharp has mixed memories of his time at Boundary Park, but one of his fondest recollections was playing for them in the FA Cup under Joe Royle.
Oldham were just seconds from winning their semi-final against Manchester United in 1994, until Sharp’s chance of a fifth final appearance was snatched away from him by a last-gasp equaliser.
“We really should have won but Mark Hughes scored a last-minute equaliser for them,” Sharp recalled.
“I remember on the day we were winning 1-0 and I had an opportunity from a corner in the last two minutes. I really should have done better but I hit the side-netting and before we knew it they had gone up the other end and Mark scored a fantastic volley to get them the replay.
“At Maine Road, where the replay was played, they ran out 4-1 victors and Andrei Kanchelskis on the night tore us to shreds.
“We had a decent team and it was close, but we just couldn’t get over that final hurdle of Manchester United. That was probably the best cup run we had whilst I was there.
“I was fortunate that I had been to Wembley a number of occasions with Everton but for some of the younger players at Oldham who never got the chance to play there again, I was more disappointed for them.”