Everton host Manchester City in front of the Sky cameras on Saturday lunchtime with Evertonians across the globe demanding a response from the beleaguered players.
The manager, players and supporters know that last weeks performance was far from acceptable and although expectations have lowered as a result, Everton need to respond with a showing of the highest quality to win back the confidence of the Goodison crowd. That will not be easy. Evertonians expect commitment, passion and a strong work ethic as a minimum from the boys in Blue and with the Champions in town Everton will need to show these qualities in abundance.
Phil Neville is aware of the importance of a strong start, with the Goodison atmosphere likely to be tetchy. Speaking in his programme notes, Neville said:
We need to be positive today and help each other. The atmosphere today will doubtless be a bit edgy and we, as players, have to accept that. Last week was poor but this is a new game, a new chance to work together and get three valuable points.
A number of players will need to block out the crowd. A minority are likely to target their frustrations at Fellaini, Heitinga and Neville, and whether deserved or not, focus must remain on earning the Blues a victory which will reignite the push for European football.
As I write this preview, David Moyes has yet to update the press with the latest team news. Tim Howard is unlikely to return and Phil Jagielka’s omission from the England squad suggests he is still a fortnight away from returning to the team. With his goal drought continuing, Nikica Jelavic is likely to start from the bench, with Victor Anichebe preferred up front and we all would be mightily surprised if Phil Neville retains his starting spot ahead of Darron Gibson.
Expected starting XI: Mucha; Coleman, Baines, Distin, Heitinga; Gibson, Osman, Pienaar, Mirallas, Fellaini; Anichebe.
Earlier in the week we published archive footage from 1986 and a 4-0 win over Manchester City. A link to this is featured below.
Today we feature another home win over City. This time from 1990-91during Howard Kendall’s second spell in charge of Everton. Look out for a very special goal from Kevin Sheedy.