Monday 14 October 2019

Everton fans overjoyed to put a dent in Kop title push

Reds alert: Everton fans make their feelings known as the Liverpool coach arrives at Goodison Park. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Reds alert: Everton fans make their feelings known as the Liverpool coach arrives at Goodison Park. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

So now both Merseyside clubs have a dream to cling to in the title race.

For Liverpool, the enduring hope Manchester City will not win all their remaining games and this, as at Old Trafford last week, eventually transforms from an average into a pivotal point.

For Everton, the satisfaction of knowing that, if Jurgen Klopp's side fail to win the Premier League, they played their part in the Anfield failure.

Liverpool ended a Premier League weekend with the title destiny no longer in their hands - the first time in 2019. That is why a goalless draw was received like the first Everton victory in this fixture since 2010.

That is why some of Liverpool's players looked disconsolate despite what, in a less extraordinary year, would not be a result to be so fretful about.

To paraphrase Evertonians' premature but triumphant declaration - minus the expletives - Liverpool will win nothing now. It is over for them.

Parade

City can prepare the parade and add Marco Silva to the list of thank you bouquets alongside Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his similarly effective roadblock last weekend.

That remains to be seen, but this result felt like the meaningful consolation Everton fans were craving from a dissatisfying season - for that one opportunity to embrace that mocking chant and direct it to the unsure visitors, no matter how desperate the yearning for it to carry meaning until May.

Sensibly, given the events in the last derby at Anfield, only when injury-time drew to a conclusion did the home fans feel secure enough to start the celebrations.

They continued in the concourses and into the streets long after the final whistle. It will be repeated in the offices and divided living rooms across the city until such time as City drop points and Liverpool take advantage.

So much has been written about the ache of Liverpool fans to get across the line for the first time in 29 years - it was matched, eclipsed even, by that of their neighbours to stop them.

Here was a Goodison atmosphere to rival those Klopp expects on home soil for the remainder of the campaign. This was a most hostile, unsophisticated, ugly derby. Exactly as it used to be and precisely as it should be. Referee Martin Atkinson was jeered before he blew the first whistle.

Silva, whose position looked perilous after his side's FA Cup exit, has never looked so secure since he arrived at Goodison Park, as if his relationship with the Everton fans was finally consummated.

When the stadium is like this, the players so full of vigour, you wonder why it is not replicated more often.

If so, Everton's ambition would extend well beyond stopping their opponent.

Klopp could not comprehend the gulf between the ecstasy found in the goalless draw and despair from those backing his cause. He and Liverpool must adjust to a new reality.

In a season where they have still lost just once in the Premier League, draws are being presented to Klopp as new defeats.

First it was Bayern Munich in the Champions League. A week ago Manchester United supporters never sounded so gleeful after an Old Trafford stalemate.

Here was the most vociferous of all responses to taking a point from Liverpool. It was the most understandable given all Everton have suffered.

If the rest of English football finds the idea of a Liverpool title win unpalatable, think about the neighbours if over half-a-million descended on the city centre for the mother of all parties.

Klopp was told it would be this way when the first signs of a title challenge emerged, although it is hard to believe he realised it would be quite like this.

Mobilising

The signs were there when Liverpool reached the Champions League final a year ago, the anti-Kop movement mobilising. It has had time to add recruits as the possibility of a Liverpool title has grown.

If there are any neutrals supporting Klopp, they are well hidden.

Not for the first time Klopp felt compelled to offer an education in staying calm, as well as issue a reminder of how far his team has come. "It's not like we are somebody in the candy shop and maybe we have a chance and hopefully nobody realises it. We know that we are good," he said.

Contrary to the suggestions of Klopp and Silva, the unbridled joy greeting the full-time whistle at Goodison Park did not put one in mind of the World Cup final.

In a city where apathy towards international football is rife, this was far more important than that. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

The Left Wing - Can Ireland pick themselves up again and what has Joe Schmidt learned from 2015?

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport