Goodison title-winner Adrian Heath believes it’s now or never for Everton to show Liverpool that they are finally a team to take seriously.
The blue half of Merseyside are in dreamland with Everton sitting on top of the Premier league table after a faultless start to the new season.
And with the countdown on to Saturday’s crunch date with the arch-enemy, Everton fans are believing derby glory is on the horizon.
The fixture will mark exactly 10 years to the day since Everton, then managed by David Moyes, last beat Liverpool, with goals from Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta.
Since then, Everton have failed to taste derby glory in 22 attempts.
It’s a shocking record but Heath, boss of MLS side Minnesota United, reckons Everton’s derby drought might just be about to end.
“If this group of players want to show Evertonians they’re a team with a different mind-set to what’s gone before, then this is the game to do it,” said Heath. “You can lose a derby game at any time – I lost a few in my early days at Everton – but there is a way to lose and I think a couple have been really tame.
“Look at the FA Cup earlier this year, Liverpool virtually had their reserves out and still won. So this is a big game for many reasons.
“It’s not only the result that’s important. Everton have to say to Liverpool ‘you aren’t going to beat us with half a team out any more.’ They need to deliver a big performance. Even the new Everton players should know how much this game means to fans, especially as everything has been going great for Liverpool, at least until last week.
“Given the way Everton have started, and given Liverpool’s 7-2 defeat by Villa, there’s never been a better time to show the gap between the two clubs is getting smaller.”
Heath, a double League champion with Everton in 1985 and 1987, believes the appointment as manager of Carlo Ancelotti was a Goodison masterstroke.
And allowing him to bring in James Rodriguez, Brazilian midfielder Allan, and Watford powerhouse Abdoulaye Doucoure has made the transfer window the best in Everton’s Premier League history.
“Ancelotti has shown that if he’s got the team he can win games,” Heath said. “I always thought this was going to be one of the most important transfer windows in Everton’s history if they got it right.
“And it’s not just that they’ve won the games, it’s the quality of the football and movement that’s impressed me. It’s been outstanding.
“James Rodriguez was always going to bring quality, Allan and Doucoure know how to play their positions in midfield, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is scoring goals for fun – it looks a potent combination.
“Now they have to maintain that start. If they can keep their core of top players fit and get Richarlison scoring 15 goals, who knows where they could finish?
“I heard Harry Redknapp saying Spurs could win the League this season and it might well be one of those years. Everyone said Leicester was a one-off. But if there was ever a time for someone to cause an upset it could be a season like this when everything is different. I’m not saying Everton will be champions, but fourth place should be a viable target and that would be an incredible jump.
“Everton have an ambitious owner and manager and suddenly everything is far better than 12 months ago when we were closer to the bottom than top.
“The mantra of the club was always ‘okay, we might not win it but when you play Everton at Goodison Park then you’ve got it all on.’
“And I sense those days are around the corner again.”
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