Everton must move on quickly from Anfield disaster
Billed as the biggest Merseyside derby for 30 years, Everton and Liverpool were expected to play out a tight contest at Anfield on Tuesday, reflecting their close positions near the summit of a tightly-packed Premier League table.
January 29th, 2014
Sadly for Everton fans the game quickly turned into a nightmare, as the Reds inflicted on the Blues their worst derby defeat since 1982.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez said before the game that his side would go to Anfield and try to win; something his predecessor David Moyes was accused of not doing during his tenure as Toffees boss.
But while Moyes failed to claim all three points from the home of the enemy, his teams were never dismantled the way Martinez’s side was on Tuesday.
The thumping 4-0 win puts Liverpool four points clear of their Mersey rivals in the race for a Champions League position, a sizeable gap at this stage of the season. But it is perhaps the mental scarring that may have a bigger impact between now and the end of the year.
The Toffees have enjoyed a superb campaign so far – this was just their third defeat of the season – but they have endured a tough few weeks as injuries have begun to bite.
Romelu Lukaku became the latest casualty when he was stretchered off with an ankle injury shortly after the first goal.
That may force Martinez back into the transfer market ahead of Friday’s transfer deadline, but perhaps the more pressing need is to pick up the morale of his troops before the weekend game with Aston Villa.
Everton cannot let their season unravel after this defeat, which could easily happen. A couple more defeats in the next few games could see the top four build up an unsurmountable gap, leaving the Toffees to scrap around for a Europa League place.
The year has already been labelled as a “transition season”, with the woes of Manchester United opening up a spot in the top four.
That spot may well be sewn up again next season should United come again or Liverpool spend big by virtue of qualifying this time around.
Everton will never have a better opportunity to upset the apple cart and, although this Anfield mauling undoubtedly hurts, it should not be allowed to scupper the whole season.
That, though, would require some supreme man-management skills from the endlessly positive Martinez, as well as some overtime from the club’s medical team, to try and steer this bruised and battered team back on track.