Everton lost to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby yesterday in what was a familiar feeling for fans. However, it was not a familiar performance. Everton were excellent throughout the game and an error from Jordan Pickford ended up costing them a well-earned 0-0 draw.
Compared to the same fixture last season it was a far improved performance. Everton actually drew 1-1 with Liverpool at Anfield last term. Wayne Rooney scored a penalty for Sam Allardyce’s side. In fact, it was a point that presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray both made on beIN Sports this weekend.
Richard Keys stated: “Everton had a really good go there, but Big Sam took a team to Anfield last year, not as good as that one, and got a point.
“Who’s right and who’s wrong?”
To which former Everton striker Gray responded: “Sam didn’t have the quality of players last year, that Marco Silva’s got this year. No way.
“Mina wasn’t there, Digne wasn’t there, Andre Gomes, Richarlison. They are better this team, than the one Sam had.
“Sam went with a plan to frustrate them and did a fabulous job and Calvert-Lewin got the penalty and Wayne Rooney scored it, and they got a 1-1.
“But we don’t know where Sam would have evolved to, if he had been allowed to continue. I’d like to think he would have got the same kind of money Silva’s got and could have taken Everton on.”
But such comments are misguided.
Is the Everton team better now than what Allardyce had to work with? Absolutely. However, there is no doubt the presence of Marco Silva and new sporting director Marcel Brands played a huge role in bringing such players to the club.
Richarlison was a direct move from Silva. Meanwhile, the Barcelona trio of Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes all came to work with the Portuguese. Can you imagine them switching the Nou Camp to come and play the brand of football Allardyce was peddling at Goodison Park? The same goes for the stylish Bernard.
Just look at Big Sam’s two signings who remain at Goodison. Cenk Tosun is struggling whilst Theo Walcott is considered the weak link in the starting XI by many.
Allardyce probably would have tried to bring in Andy Carroll during the summer, or some other dated individual.
Everton may have lost yesterday but they at least looked nearer to Liverpool’s equal than an Everton team has since David Moyes’ best years. That is down to Silva’s impact both on and off the pitch. Everton are undoubtedly in a better place because of Silva and, at Goodison in March they will hope to get their revenge.