A Tale of Two Clubs

They both have a Scottish manager, adored by their respective fans. The two of them also have a rich tradition of winning silverware.

They enjoy unrivalled passionate support from their fanbase in an area of the world where football is king.

Both are owned by controversial chairmen, looking for a new stadium and they´re struggling in a season of disappointment, sharing exactly the same number of points in the league after the same number of games played.

In 2011, that´s where the similarities between Everton and Liverpool end.

Yet given the current similarities between the two clubs, there´s one surprising difference – the gulf in terms of morale and confidence between the blue half of Merseyside and the Red has never been greater heading into a derby game.

It is a derby game of special, unusual significance. There´s no title charge on the cards for Liverpool. There´s little chance of a relegation scrap for the Toffees. Rather, both sets of fans have very different reasons for wanting the win.

For Liverpool, it´s all about desperation. The return of "King" Kenny Dalglish hasn´t gone to plan thus far, with two straight defeats and a team lacking confidence and lacklustre in terms of quality and effort. Expensive players are looking like lower-league flops, whilst the infamous youth system hasn´t been able to step in and cover the established players failings.

How strange is it then, after the many years of taunts from the Reds of the derby being "Everton´s cup final", that Liverpool fans are now placing as much importance on the game coming up as they would a European final. One good performance against the local rivals under King Kenny and they are convinced that all will be forgotten and the mighty Reds will be back on top of the world.

For Everton, it´s all about momentum. The fans, admittedly tempered by years of failure in terms of silverware, are upbeat off the back of successive wins against Tottenham and Scunthorpe. Players brought in on a strict budget are performing well, whilst unexpected successes like Seamus Coleman are producing top-grade performances, bolstered by a very promising youth system.

The derby has always been an important game for Everton, yet for the first time in many a year the derby this year has become just another game that we go into to win, but isn´t a disaster if we lose.

That´s the kicker. For the best part of two decades, Liverpool have considered Manchester United their true rival. Yet when the two clubs met recently, most fans were not that fussed that it ended in defeat. The Everton game is now the be-all, end-all.

Such is the decline of Liverpool since 2005, and equally, the emergence of a quality Everton team too. At Liverpool, massive amounts of money has been squandered, the stadium project has stalled, boardrooms have been unstable, nothing has been won and the fans, famous for their loyalty to the man in charge, have demanded a managers head on a silver platter after just six months in charge.

The same thing cannot be said about Everton. The apparent similarities, obvious on the surface, do not go beyond skin deep.

For the first time in living memory for a lot of young Evertonians, the Toffees go into the game at Anfield as favourites. This fact, regardless of the result on Sunday, should have a lot of Toffees encouraged by the direction of Everton, and the Kopites fearing for the long term destiny of their club – a win will be nothing more than a band aid on a deep wound at Anfield.

As Everton continue their search for investment, a little cash brought into the club could change the footballing scene on Merseyside. But for now, the spirit of the Everton team overshadows the cash spent by the Reds.

The future is bright on Merseyside, but the future may be Blue.

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