View From The Other Side: Jamie Carragher

Only eight men have played more Merseyside derbies than Jamie Carragher.

They may have all been in the red of our rivals but when Jamie was at our own USM Finch Farm to film with Sky Sports recently, we took the opportunity to get his thoughts on the 228th meeting of his boyhood club and the one he represented from 1996 to 2013…

TOFFEES IN FORM 

For Everton, it’s been a complete turnaround since the last derby. There was that big disappointment of going out of the FA Cup to Leicester a few weeks later and it just seems from then that it’s lifted.

There was a change of system - they went to three at the back - and I think that helped. Tom Davies coming in gave everyone a lift - remember that Manchester City game - and it’s just gone on from there.

At one stage, it looked like seventh position was probably the best Everton could hope for because there was such a big gap. But even though Everton are still in that position they’ve closed the gap on Manchester United and Arsenal and I know there’s one team they’ll be looking to topple in the next few weeks in particular!

I think top four might be just a bit too far for Everton but if they can look to maybe nick sixth position - hopefully off someone other than Liverpool - I think that would be a really good first season for Ronald Koeman.

MORE COMPLETE LUKAKU IS A BIG THREAT 

From the point of view of Evertonians, they see it that it has been far too long to get that win at Anfield.

It will end some time, of course it will. It can’t keep going on. But a club of Everton’s size shouldn’t go that long without a victory at their rivals.

If they could get it this season they’d be delighted - and could Romelu Lukaku be that man? That could certainly give him legendary status if he was the man who breaks that hoodoo and gets that goal.

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He was a nightmare to play against. As a defender, I think there’s a moment you know it’s not far away, retirement, and it happened twice for me against Romelu. Liverpool played West Brom when he was on loan from Chelsea in Brendan Rodgers’ first game and I came on as a sub. It was 3-0 and we were trying to get back in the game so, as a defender, you try to take a chance. I tried to nick in front of him to get the ball and, as I tried to go in front, he just turned me and ran away, leaving me on the floor.

I look at him and he’s a more complete player now. Of course he is. That comes with maturity, experience as well and I’m sure working with Ronald Koeman.

Koeman said the same things a lot at the start of the season in terms of wanting the team to be pressing and be compact and that starts at the front. That’s something he still possibly has to bring into his game. But goals are the most important thing and he is completely delivering. He’s the top goalscorer in the Premier League so he’s having an outstanding season.

And I don’t think it’s a one-off - his goalscoring record since he’s come to Everton has been outstanding. You get different opinions and it is very close but I think there are probably four or five strikers now in the Premier League who you could make an argument for in terms of being the best.

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I think when Sergio Aguero is on form it’s him, but you could make an argument for Harry Kane, Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku because they’re all slightly different.

But Lukaku can match up against anyone and the next thing for him is maybe to be the best striker in the league and, if he gets the Golden Boot, you can’t argue with that.

I’m sure Ronald Koeman and his staff will be going through the videos and looking at where Rom can get his chances on Saturday but Jurgen Klopp will be doing the same to stop him. 

CLASSY KOEMAN

I interviewed Ronald Koeman for Sky Sports at Goodison Park earlier this season. He’s just a class act and I think he’s a great signing for Everton.

The job he did at Southampton, you could put up there with any Premier League manager in those two years he was there, especially considering the players he was losing and how he continually had to reinvent the team and still got them into the best of the rest position if you like.

But you’ve got great pedigree there as a player so he gets that instant respect, he’s also proven himself as a manager, he’s won trophies and managed some great clubs around Europe and it looks now like he’s finally getting his stamp on the team.

That’s reflected in the recent results.

BARKLEY BACK TO HIS BEST

Ross Barkley has been spoken about as the young player but I don’t think really we should talk about Ross as a young player any more. He’s just an Everton player and a very good one.

He’s talked about a lot because I think people have seen him as a player for England - that’s why the national press and lots of people like myself, pundits, speak about Ross when we talk about Everton - and maybe he has got too much attention and that brings too much pressure on him.

But I think he has been in great form of late.

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