The Merseyside Derby is one of the biggest games in world football is a statement that was perhaps true for a period time, at one point both clubs Liverpool and Everton were at the very top, fighting it out for most of the major honours between themselves. Both clubs had some of the best players in Europe, players who were famous all over the world, players who could have made a name for themselves in any team. But if we are honest, both clubs have declined, yes on our day we can still take on anybody and we have now and have had some outstanding players and we have to admit so have Everton, but neither club can claim to have regular challenged for the trophies Not like the good old days. Over the same period both Manchester clubs have moved ahead of us, both clubs have exceptional squads and have been contesting trophies for a number of years now but recently United have fallen from grace so perhaps this Derby has lost a little from where it was a few years ago. Arsenal and Spurs is also a big game but I feel the number of Derby games played in London takes a little of the shine off this game. The Tyne and Wear derby is a huge game for local fans but is it on a national level I'm not so sure, it's like a lot of derby games massive in the region they are played and yes we love to watch and sample what can be tremendous atmospheres but they are not important on a national level, so perhaps when you look around the Merseyside game is as big if not bigger than any around.
Some will argue that the games are not like they were because victory over other teams has become more important to the supporters, perhaps as our fan base has widened so has the importance of games against teams from further away, Or perhaps because different teams are challenging us in the league, we have certainly always loved to give Manchester United a beating, but recently games against Chelsea and Arsenal have been eagerly anticipated and have had added importance depending on the clubs league positions.
I, like many other supporters, don't live in Liverpool so don't have to face Everton supporters at work after a defeat or have the opportunity to poke fun following a victory, what I do have like many others are plenty United and Chelsea supporters making their mouths go when things have gone wrong and I'm usually unable to find any of them when we win, I only have one colleague who I know to be an Everton supporter. I know how important it is to people who, live and work in the city and desperately want the team to do well for you all. The situation with the players is similar, more and more members of both squads are are not from the city, yes we are lucky our captain is from Liverpool and the passion Gerrard feels for this fixture is obvious, it's there for all to see and always has been, but his career as a player is coming to an end and it is highly possible that next season Liverpool will field a team without a local player in this fixture. Yes we drum the importance of the game into new signings but it can never be the same for a Spaniard or German or African or wherever, they can just never understand fully what it means.
Despite all the above the fixtures against Everton still have that little bit of magic about them, the atmosphere is just that bit better, it means just that bit more for even the foreign players, more than a bit for the local boys, both teams are on the up and at least challenging for top four so the importance of the game his heading back to where it was and we love it, we still look for the date of the game as soon as the fixtures are released, it is still almost impossible to get a ticket for the game and I would argue that a victory in this game means more than any other, it has the power to lift the team, improve confidence possibly making an entire season, as we are all hoping will be the case this year.
So yes the Derby is relevant, in my opinion is almost as big as it ever was and as both teams move higher and higher up the table it is becoming more so. One of the biggest games in the country yes without a doubt, in Europe maybe it has a huge tradition and atmosphere and we are certainly heading back that way. So everybody enjoy the game at the weekend, and make sure everybody knows why the Merseyside Derby is still classed as one of the biggest games in the world.