I’ve been fortunate enough to play in London and Manchester derbies and manage in the Tyne-Wear derby. Every one of those has got something to it but when it is your hometown derby, it’s extra special.
If you ask Mancunians who played in the City-United games they would say it’s the same for them. But because I was brought up on Merseyside, I always see this match as the big one.
I often get asked whether it was a better feeling to beat Liverpool at Goodison or at Anfield. My answer is simple - I’d take a derby win anywhere. I’d even take a derby win on the moon!
My best experience was the 1-0 at Anfield when Sharpy smashed it in. That win gave belief amongst the supporters that we could win the league in 1984/85. The following week, if I’m not mistaken, Manchester United came to Goodison. They were vying at the top of the league and we beat them 5-0. But that 1-0 at Anfield was the catalyst for that side to win the league that season, without doubt.
Another moment I recall at Anfield was Sheedy’s free-kick in 1987. If you look at the video I’m pictured uttering a few words to him before he struck it and I just said ‘do whatever you want, pal’. I was just the dummy, I never had anything to do with situations like that!
Sheeds just did whatever he wanted to do and I was quite happy with that. Besides getting goals from free-kicks he could also stick the ball on players’ heads. He could put it anywhere. He was certainly up there with one of the best, without doubt.
But one of the worst feelings was when we got beat in the 1986 FA Cup final. We did a tour round the city afterwards and I told Howard that I wasn’t getting on that bus. He said it would cost me two weeks’ wages and I said it wasn’t a problem because I was that disappointed we missed out in the Championship and in the Cup. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a pub called the Blue Lion so I ended up sat in the Red Lion and sank a few pints of Guinness!
PERFECT TIMING FOR A DERBY
Even now I always look forward to the derbies. They are obviously massive games and the starts that the two clubs have made to the season have been really impressive.
I was at Goodison for the game against Tottenham recently and I thought we looked solid and played some decent stuff even though we didn’t win the game.
I have got a couple of media commitments but I am trying to get to the match because, like anybody else, I think they are fantastic occasions. This meeting is certainly one that I am really looking forward to.
Sturridge and Suarez are in decent form but Jagielka and Distin have proved over the years that they can defend in the big games. I know Everton have had two nil-nil draws but whatever you say, if you are keeping clean sheets it shows you are hard to beat.
Another crucial area for me is if Lukaku can get at the Liverpool defence, depending on what team Brendan Rodgers picks. At the Tottenham game I didn’t think he played that well but I have seen him in games this season when his strength, power and pace has been too much for defenders.
No disrespect to West Brom, but 17 goals for them last year was fantastic and the start he has made here at Everton has also been excellent. I think he can be a real threat for Liverpool and obviously he will need help from elsewhere on the pitch, but on his day he can be a match-winner.
I was a wee bit concerned when we conceded two at West Ham, two at home to Newcastle at three at Manchester City, but we’ve tightened up since then.
Even though I was disappointed with the draw at Palace, as a supporter, player and manager I always liked to see a couple of clean sheets.
If Everton get a clean sheet in the derby it means that we won’t get beat and with our attacking players, we are always likely to nick a goal.
I think it will be a close match and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 1-0 to Everton.