Rafa Benitez referred to Everton as a small club at the weekend and it ruffled some feathers. The Spaniard said after Saturday’s 0-0 Merseyside derby: "When you play against the smaller teams at Anfield you know the game will be narrow."
Everton chief executive Keith Wyness responded on the club website and said: "Benitez is in a minority of one in believing Everton is a small club. Somehow we just expect more of a Liverpool manager." Boo Hoo. If Everton are a big club, then I’m not sure what defines a football club as ‘big’.
There is no doubt in my mind that Everton have a rich history in football. They’ve won all sorts of trophies, have a loyal fan base and have been in the top flight longer than anyone else. Fair enough… they’re an important side with lots of heritage. Does that make them a big side? Well, not in my book. A big side commands the best players from around Europe, a side that consistantly reaches the Champions League, a side that genuinely challenges for trophies year after year. Liverpool, ManYoo and Arsenal are the only three English teams who can stake a claim for this. You may be wondering about Chelsea… but they’ve only been challenging since a certain Russian billionaire got involved.
If a club can claim to be big on heritage alone, then Wolves, Burnley, Notts Forest and Bolton Wanderers are big clubs. Somehow, I doubt you’ll find many who would agree on that. If you look at a side like West Ham, many fans hark on about the spirit of Bobby Moore, and how it was their side that won the World Cup for England. Of course, that’s not true, but it shows a side with lots of heritage to look back on. However, like West Ham, Everton haven’t had much to crow about in recent years… in fact, apart from the FA Cup, Everton have done nothing.
Why should Rafa Benitez give Everton any credit? Not since the days of Neville Southall have Everton caused anyone any major problems. As far as he’s concerned, they’re local rivals, and not much else. Fair enough. Also, since when did Liverpool and Everton show each other the love? I love a bit of tension between rivals… and it’s refreshing to see the Liverpool manager sticking the boot in on his neighbours. As a Bolton fan, I’d be punching the air if Sam Allardyce referred to Wigan as "those shitty pie eaters from down the road". I’d also be furious if Paul Jewell slagged us off… but that’s what football is all about. It’s about time we had a bit of banter between clubs instead of all this PR guff. [Mof Gimmers]