Post by Everton News. on Jul 14, 2017 14:10:27 GMT
Everton have beaten Liverpool in the transfer market - but they must beat them on the pitch for power to truly shift
Without games and many transfers still to be completed by other clubs, the challenge has been laid to decipher what Everton’s unprecedented spending in the Premier League era really means
Derek Hatton, the former deputy leader of Liverpool’s city council through the turbulence of the 1980s, was one of the first to react to the news yesterday that Everton had made a £40million bid for Gylfi Sigurdsson and were confident of completing the transfer. “When are we going to stop pinching ourselves,” he wrote on Twitter, the lack of a question mark excusable perhaps, because there might not actually be an answer. “An amazing time to be an Evertonian.”
The broader mood on Merseyside was encapsulated less than an hour later when reports began to emerge that the possibility of Naby Keita moving to Liverpool from Red Bull Leipzig had slithered further away after correspondence had been sent from Germany emphatically stating that the energetic midfielder simply wasn’t for sale. With Virgil van Dijk still a Southampton player, Liverpool had entered a situation where their priority summer targets will probably have to actively force a move away from their current clubs if there is to be any chance of deals happening.
The transfer window has proven more challenging for Liverpool than Everton so far because it is more difficult to get the players you really want than the players you can have.
Yet while it might encourage some to reflect on the development that Liverpool will not respond to the roadblocks laid by Leipzig by turning to the plan B, C or D options of sporting director Michael Edwards as they have done in the past with consequences which have contributed to at least one manager losing his job, can choosing not to seek alternatives really be described as progress when it is so clear Liverpool’s squad needs to be much stronger than it is now having struggled with fewer commitments last season?
After crossing the Mersey and beating Tranmere Rovers 4-0 in their opening pre-season friendly, Jürgen Klopp intercepted questions about Liverpool’s transfer business saying he was “not nervous,” but when he places so much value on the atmosphere of Anfield - how it can determine results, if not entire seasons - surely there is an appreciation that supporters might feel oppositely considering this had been thought of as the summer where Liverpool’s Champions League campaign would be fitted with a Champions League squad.
There is time for that to happen. It certainly is not all doom and gloom at Liverpool. Mohamed Salah has been recruited in a record deal (albeit it would not be a surprise if the majority of Premier League clubs had broken their transfer records by the end of August), it would not be an exceptional modern football transfer turnaround if van Dijk and Keita ended up arriving, and there is a confidence inside Melwood that promising youngsters will be better again; that Marko Grujić and Trent Alexander-Arnold will play more games and if they develop as expected there will be at least two more players as credible first team options.
Liverpool’s week, however, was undermined by another fiasco with the first public responsibility of Tony Barrett, the respected journalist turned fan liaison officer, being an apology after members were left without tickets following long queues on the Internet on a morning where disabled supporters were also forced to wait fruitlessly for hours at Anfield. It is instances like these that erodes confidence and chips away at the hope this is a Liverpool to trust generally, ultimately impacting on the feeling outside of the stadium as well as in.
Perhaps it is on Merseyside, indeed, where the mood of supporters sways the fortunes of the clubs that serve them the most. Over at Goodison Park Ronald Koeman has frequently spoken about changing the mentality since his appointment.
Without games and many transfers still to be completed by other clubs, the challenge has been laid to decipher what Everton’s unprecedented spending in the Premier League era really means at this stage; whether the good times are just around the corner.
Perhaps it is fixtures against Liverpool that will reveal just how far Everton have progressed – whether the mentality is really changing – because it is the derby matches where Everton have consistently failed in this century; where defeats from pre-match positions of promise have contributed towards doubts creeping in across the terraces, spreading to the team; doubts that return when opportunities to take trophies are there even if Everton face other opponents.
Just as there are those Evertonians under the age of thirty who can barely remember 1995, the year Joe Royle’s team collected the club’s last trophy, there are Liverpudlians under the age of thirty who cannot remember the last league title but have nevertheless lived through an era where Everton have still trailed them by some distance in terms of success. It means there is a generation of supporters who might not be able to recognise potentially significant shifts as they are happening. And so, more will surely be known about health and balance of Premier League football on Merseyside after December 9 when Everton have been to Anfield.