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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Whatever happens this will be the strangest derby that will live on in our memory forever

The year of 1894.

That was the last and only time this scenario has dawned upon us in a Merseyside derby.

It was the last time a manager has taken charge of both clubs in this fixture but now Rafael Benitez will join that very illustrious list.

There was an unparalleled amount of controversy when he was hired from both sets of supporters as the hatred between the two rivals is so strong and will forever be.

So, hiring a Liverpool legend was never ever going to go well.

Some Evertonians boycott the colour red and all of a sudden, a former Liverpool manager who won the Champions League with that club in red is hired for their beloved blues.

All of a sudden, a man who was forever adored by every Liverpool supporter around the world had switched sides to join their bitter rivals.

Now the day has finally come when the Spaniard will be the home manager at Goodison Park welcoming a Liverpool side which he once called his.

A Liverpool fanbase who cherished him with all of their hearts.

Some may still do even, if they know they realistically can’t whilst he is in that dugout.

Was it ever going to be met well?

Realistically of course it wasn’t but it started off very well.

Everton were flying at the start of the season going unbeaten in their first five and it all seemed to be going rather swimmingly for Benitez which was a surprise due to the sheer amount of pressure he was under.

Now though in the build-up to the derby that pressure has gotten 100 times worse due to the horrid run of form his side are on.

No win in seven games, one goal in the whole month of November and some awful performances have meant that the fans are not pleased, which is definitely an understatement, and they have every right to be.

It is a game of opinions and many within the fanbase have different ones.

Some may say it is Benitez’s fault, some may say it is the players and some may say it is the hierarchy at the club.

However, if we are being honest, it is a little bit of all three of those reasons and that is why the travelling Everton crowd at Brentford on Sunday booed their own players away when they came to clap them off.

Now a derby awaits.

It is deep down the most important game of the season for each set of supporters.

The Red side of the city have a totally different mood going into the sickening fixture.

Liverpool are in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, have topped their Champions League group and are third in the Premier League table keeping up with the pace set by their title rivals.

The moods of the two fanbases are polar opposites.

But also, they are the complete same.

It doesn’t matter about form, nothing matters when the referee blows the whistle as everyone in the stadium, everyone in the city, every fan watching on the planet will have that same feeling of being sick to the stomach.

Especially when Liverpool now owe Everton revenge after they finally ended their Anfield hoodoo last season with a 2-0 win.

Now it is time for Jurgen Klopp’s men to attempt to end their Goodison Park hoodoo.

And yes, they do really have one even though the record over the years has been so one sided.

In the last nine games at Goodison Park between these two Liverpool have only won one game with the rest being draws.

The last victory at the ground for them was in 2016 when Sadio Mane scored a last-minute winner.

They will want to stop this record going on and they very nearly did last season when Jordan Henderson’s last-minute winner got ruled out for offside.

So, what will we get this time round?

Will we get another goal at the death? Will we get another season ending injury? Will we get another red card? Will we get another contentious VAR decision? 

Will we get the away end chanting the home managers name in delight?

If that happens then there may not be any turning back for Rafa Benitez.

If he gets a shock victory, then his Everton career will just be getting started.

A cold December night under the lights at Goodison Park.

An early Christmas present awaits for one side of this famous city.

READ MORE: Merseyside Derby – A Tale of Two Clubs – Liverpool FC & Everton FC

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