Everton always find a way to plumb new depths at Anfield. However, they’ve not felt this low. I know, because I was there. This was the ultimate humiliation.
If two decades without a win away to Liverpool wasn’t crushing enough for the supporters, the Toffees managed to extinguish the little hope Evertonians didn’t even know they still had, going down 1-0 to the Reds C team on Sunday.
Make no mistake, this wasn’t even a second string, with numbers in the sixties and seventies featuring on the shirts of some Liverpool players.
“I’m not coming here again, not a chance,” was regularly heard in different pockets of Everton’s 8,000 strong following throughout Sunday’s FA Cup clash.
They’ve been here before. Battered and embarrassed to the point some stay away. Others keep attending, for they know they have to win again sometime, surely?! It's almost mawkish to buy a ticket for that Everton away end.
Constant drubbings and hard-luck stories is all they’ve known since Kevin Campbell’s winner in 1999, the last time the Blues tasted success away to their hated rivals.
Jurgen Klopp selected a team of youth players with a small smattering of fringe names for a game Liverpool didn’t overly ‘care’ about. They have different priorities as they sit atop the Premier League table thirty years since their last title success.
The players the German put out though, they wanted it more than Everton’s first-team. The Toffees international stars struggled with the basics and were out-thought and out-fought by Liverpool’s youngsters.
Energy, aggression and desire. Everything Everton lacked, Liverpool possessed in a big way.
Curtis Jones' stunning curling strike was deserving of winning the game. He embodied the verve and swagger of the Reds this season.
Everton have lead for a total of seven minutes.
“It’s the mentality that is instilled throughout LFC and that started when the manager came in,” Adam Lallana told the Reds’ official website after the victory.
Mentality. That word envelops the Everton fanbase during every derby week.
Even when the teams were announced and the vast chasm in age and experience was apparent, the Blues had slight hope but still went into the game with trepidation, knowing, deep down, what would happen.
Everton could, and should, have been three or four up at half-time. They had big chances.
The fact they missed the lot came as no surprise.
They were desperate to score, though not in the way of a winner. They were desperate to get the monkey off the back, to rid themselves of the Anfield hoodoo which lingers and pulls them down year after year.
So desperate to stick the ball into the net, they rushed and flapped, snatching at chances and missing big moments; hitting the ball straight at the keeper when it looked easier to stick the ball in the net.
It threw them off-kilter so much so, they failed to lay a glove on Liverpool’s youthful team in the second half.
The Reds have belief. Everton do not.
Psychologically, they are knackered when going to Anfield. They look bereft, the pressure immeasurable.
Even at home, the Blues beat Liverpool only once at Goodison in the 2010s. The current Liverpool vintage are on fire, but the Toffees had enough to get the better of previous Reds sides but just couldn’t muster it. The mental block proving too much.
Every year, they lack intensity and seemingly forget how to play football, struck with immense fear and excruciating doubt.
On occasion, they could be forgiven for feeling like it will never ever be their day again. The fact Virgil van Dijk hopeful scything kick evaded Jordan Pickford’s non-committal leap and landed on the bar before bobbling twice onto the head of Divock Origi in 2018 summed up neatly the rub of the green Liverpool can enjoy in this fixture and the horrendous luck heaped on Everton.
According to one stat flying through social media, since the start of the 2012/13 season, there have been 17 Merseyside derbies. Everton have led only seven minutes. Seven.
Not good enough.
What’s more embarrassing is that the Blues, for so long skint and football paupers at the start of this century, boasted a line up which cost £221.06m compared to the £43.95m Liverpool spent on their starting XI.
Everton’s expensively assembled team lacked intensity and guile, unforgivable for a Merseyside derby. Fans do not want to see some of the players who lined up for this one ever, ever again.
Angry and frustrated, feeling hopeless and hurting, Evertonians are lost at this point, and little wonder.
If supporting the blue half of Merseyside is character building, then the hardy souls who continually traipse to Anfield every year are skyscrapers.
The one good thing to come from Sunday is Carlo Ancelotti, one of the most successful managers in football history, has now seen first-hand the meek characters which need to be rid from his dressing room.
For Evertonians, Groundhog Day continues, but this was the worst of days.
✅ Against your local rivals
A first senior goal for Curtis Jones! A special goal! 🙌