Forget about Moyes, win derby for the fans

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Jamie McDonald/Getty ImagesJack Rodwell, now with Manchester City, experienced Everton's longtime troubles at Anfield during the Reds' 3-0 win over the Toffees last March.

Everton make their annual trip to Anfield on Sunday for the 220th Merseyside Derby. Chasing a 600th league away win, three points would maintain those faint European hopes and allow the Toffees to exorcise some personal demons.

This latest clash is the 100th Merseyside Derby at Anfield and, with just 24 wins from the previous 99 meetings, Everton are winless on this ground since 1999. Following a decisive Kevin Campbell goal in September of that year, the Blues have drawn seven and lost six on enemy territory.

-Jagielka wants Anfield win for Moyes
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Winless in the last five meetings home and away, David Moyes is aiming to improve his dismal derby record; the Everton boss has four wins, seven draws and 13 defeats from his 24 derby dates.

The visitors also head into this clash with a new captain. With the departing Phil Neville on the first team fringes, Phil Jagielka has taken on the sound-bite mantle. The role of club captain is a somewhat unenviable task, given the pressure that accompanies the position, but Everton have developed the habit of appointing a series of uninspiring characters.

Although fine leaders on the pitch, neither Jagielka nor Neville inspire confidence or belief when talking to the press and the traces of ambition barely rise to the surface. On the forthcoming derby, Jagielka spoke to the Liverpool Echo.

"No one knows what the manager is going to do at the end of the season," Jagielka said to the local newspaper. “So if it is going to be his last game as Everton manager, at Liverpool then it would be nice to send him off in style.

"But it’s not just about him it’s about the squad as well, and we'd all love to go there and perform the way we have for most of the season and come out on the right side".

Objectively, there is nothing wrong with those comments; Everton should approach this as they would any other match, this team should not fear a trip to Anfield. Often placing this fixture on an unnecessary pedestal, Moyes' men have the look of a team gripped by doubt and fear.

Overall, it is hard to overlook one particular omission from Jagielka's comments. For whatever reason, the fans go unmentioned. Around two thousand Evertonians will cram into the Anfield Road end on Sunday afternoon. The exorbitant ticket prices only serve to rub further salt into the wounds with these long-suffering fans witnessing several downing of arms against Liverpool over the years.

There was the painful Wembley surrender along with a 3-0 league defeat during the last campaign, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The real low points came in 2006 (3-1) and 2010 (1-0) when Everton lost despite Liverpool having a man sent off during the first half with the scores level.

Throw in the infuriating use of defenders in midfield and the scale of despair prompted by a trip to Anfield becomes much clearer. Phil Neville appeared in midfield for four successive Anfield derbies from 2006-09 and the crowning glory came in 2005 when Joseph Yobo played in midfield.

Often witnessing an overly cautious setup lacking any semblance of self-belief and devoid of attacking instinct, supporters are tired of the annual Anfield offerings. Seemingly waving the white flag before the match begins, enough is enough; Everton have no excuses this year.

On course to finish above their rivals for the second successive season, the fear factor no longer qualifies. Everton have been the best team on Merseyside for the past few seasons and, when the players walk out on Sunday, they should strive to win for the fans above all else.

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