Everton: Take Advantage Of United's Hectic Fixture List & Three Points Are In The Bag

Whenever Manchester United and Everton face off, it's more often than not vitriol free. While the hostilities will remain on the pitch, a win over the Red Devils is possible with Real Madrid looming.
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Whenever Manchester United and Everton face off, it's more often than not vitriol free. While the hostilities will remain on the pitch, a win over the Red Devils is possible with Real Madrid looming.

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The contrast between the meeting of the blue half of Merseyside and red half of Manchester when compared to those occasions when both red-halves meet each other could not be starker. When the reds collide, the atmosphere is poisonous, filled with loathing and hate. By contrast, when Manchester United take on Everton, it's always a relatively civilised affair. And this is something that has often puzzled me slightly.

Part of the enmity between United fans and red-sh**es is often attributed to the hostility that is supposed to exist between our two great cities. Personally, I've never subscribed to the 'anti-Manc' view. Any city that can play a part in the birth of Marxism, give the world Joy Division, The Smiths and The Stone Roses, and produce the likes of Anthony Burgess and Shelagh Delaney can't be that bad. What's more, of the many Mancs I have met over the years, all bar three (who justifiably wanted to kick my head in following a poorly conceived 'joke') have been friendly, warm and a good laugh.

But, there are certainly some Scousers that don't share my Manco-phile leanings. These are the residents of Liverpool who view Mancs as a group of thick and humourless k**bheads who seem predisposed to walk in a way that gives the impression that they've just soiled themselves.

And in return of course, there are also a fair few Mancs with prejudices of their own; those who see Scousers as a bunch of sneaky, shiftless scallies with an exaggerated sense of their own importance and innate but flawed belief that they were born 'funny'.

But if this was a significant contributory factor to the loathing that exists between reds of both cities, then surely it would apply to blue and red too? And yet it doesn't. When the two teams play each other, you never hear songs about Munich from Evertonians and nor do you hear anything vitriolic emanating from the collective mouths of United fans. And this even includes big games, such as FA Cup finals between the two clubs in the 80's and 90's.

From one perspective. you could suggest that the reason for this cordial atmosphere is absence of threat or envy. United fans, correctly, simply don't see Everton as a threat. And in turn, Evertonians recognise that we are leagues behind United, without any hope of emulating their staggering levels of success. It's the reason why Evertonians can recognise Sir Alex Ferguson for the managerial genius he truly is and enjoy the fact that a club from the north-west can perform so effectively on the European stage.

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Yet, although there's certainly some truth in this, it hasntt always been the case that the potential for threat and envy between the two clubs has been totally absent. It might be receding into the distant past but there have been significant chunks of Everton’s history where we have been a threat to United and others when we have been a team for them to envy. However, amazingly, during these periods there was still no enmity between the clubs, a total absence of the toxic atmosphere which exists between Liverpool and Manchester United.

Perhaps the reason is that Evertonians simply have less of a problem with the success of other teams. We've always been a big club but not a 'great' club. Unlike Liverpool, we've never dominated the game for a lengthy period of time. At best, we've merely had periods of fleeting triumph. And so, when another team enjoys success it's not that big a deal.

Seen from that perspective then, it's perhaps understandable why red-sh**es are consumed by bitterness towards United. They're jealous of them for achieving what they believed is Liverpool's by entitlement, tortured by their own inadequacy in the face of such sporting brilliance. That's arguably the seed of Liverpool and United's venomous relationship and the reason why the absence of such a seed has ensured that Mancs and Blues don't seem to have a problem with each other.

Of course, after the United - Everton Old Trafford fixture last season, it's likely that United fans were a little pi**ed-off with Everton. At one point in the game they were 3-1 up, a result that would have given them a five point advantage over Manchester City and an important mental boost in the run-in to the end of the season. Sadly for United, an impressive Everton fight back ensured that the final result was 4-4. For some, it was the point when United's challenge for the title came off the rails, a change in fortunes that they never really recovered from.

But how will things turn out this time around? For us it's probably the best time to be playing United. Off the back of an international week and with Real Madrid just around the corner, it's possible that they might not be as focused as they traditionally are. Plus, it's not as if they are in the best form either. Narrow wins against Southampton and at Fulham suggest a team that are capable of being beaten.

That said, a win at Old Trafford is always going to be a big ask, specifically for a team like Everton who aren't possessed of a natural goalscorer right now. We've also not won there in the twenty past visits; a trend that doesn't bode well for a blue victory.

Given our amazing ability to draw and the fact that United might not be on their game on Sunday, a point each seems the most likely outcome. But although that can't be guaranteed, I am fairly sure that whatever the result, the prevailing mood will remain as free from vitriol as it traditionally is.