Richard Gough was delighted with the Merseyside derby win at the weekend – not just because of his lasting affection for Everton, but for the fact he is no longer part of the last Blues team to win at Anfield.
“Everyone brought it up every year when Everton went there so it’s a record that I am quite happy to get rid of,” he said.
“It was a well-deserved win, they showed a lot of bravery and I hope the boys who have just joined the Club realise how hard it is to go and win at Anfield. When I read that Liverpool hadn’t lost four at home on the spin since 1923, that’s incredible and shows how difficult it is to go there and win.
“It wasn’t a fluke because the boys played well.”
Now 58 years of age, Gough resides in San Diego, California. “It was a 9.30am kick-off for me. I went for my run early and got that out of the way and I was already happy because Rangers had won 4-1 so I could settle down and watch the derby.”
Gough played at Anfield only twice during his career, once with Tottenham Hotspur in 1986 and then with Everton in 1999, and he won both games by a 1-0 scoreline so he knows the value of defending well against Liverpool.
He singled out Jordan Pickford for particular praise.
“I was so impressed with the Everton defending at the weekend. The boys were magnificent and never put a foot wrong," added the former centre-back.
“Pickford has got a lot of confidence in himself and he’s got a short-term memory when he makes a mistake, which is a great thing for a goalkeeper to have. Some keepers can lull over them and that’s a bad thing.
“The save from Henderson was terrific. If you haven’t got a good keeper in your net, that goes in and nobody would blame the keeper because it was a great strike. But Pickford made the save and his save from Salah when he was through was a big one, too.
“When you’re playing with a good goalkeeper, and I was fortunate to play with a few, it keeps the whole defensive unit together.”
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ANCELOTTI ON WHAT ANFIELD WIN MEANS FOR EVERTON
After finding the net early on through Richarlison, Everton put the game to bed with a late penalty from Gylfi Sigurdsson – and that was a decision by referee Chris Kavanagh that Gough fully concurred with.
“Yes, all day. Calvert-Lewin would have tapped it in if he hadn’t been pulled down. You could see Alexander-Arnold’s reaction, he knew what he’d done and I think he was expecting a red card. The referee was in a good position and it was a great penalty by Sigurdsson.”
Gough played 42 times for Everton after joining the Club in the summer of 1999. He brought a wealth of experience and know-how to Walter Smith’s squad and as a wily old campaigner he enjoyed seeing the Blues win the game’s first corner at Anfield inside the opening 10 seconds.
“That was from an old-school kick-off!” he grinned. “Nowadays, teams kick off and pass it back and you can put yourself under pressure. I was glad that Ancelotti said get the ball into their box and let’s see what happens. Liverpool made a mistake and straight away we were on the front foot.
“I remember playing against Duncan Ferguson when he was at Dundee United and their manager, Jim McLean used to get them to float the ball right from the kick-off towards the right-back and get Duncan to chase it. You were under pressure straight away.”
"Tom, can you give a quick message to the fans tonight?"— Everton (@Everton) February 20, 2021
The Anfield derby in September 1999 was only Gough’s ninth appearance for Everton but at the age of 37 he was more than ready for the challenge.
“It was funny because I remember doing a few newspaper interviews before the game and being asked how I felt at my age playing against Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen and how I’d cope with the Anfield atmosphere. My reply to that was, ‘I’ve played in more than 40 Glasgow derbies as well as the north London derby so I think I’ll be okay!’
“It turned out to be a wonderful night. We were playing well at that stage and I said to the boys before the game, ‘we can win here’ and we did after scoring early.”
Gough, now 58, has urged Everton to build on the derby win.
“What a good team does is show a level of consistency and if Everton want to be a good team, and Ancelotti knows this, they have to have a consistency about them. It’s no good winning at Anfield and then losing your next game at home. That’s a yo-yo team and the players should now take the confidence from the Liverpool win to into the next game and defend the same way again.
“Everton have always got a chance of nicking a goal with Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Rodriguez.”