Everton Message Board
Rafa Benitez has caused something of a stir this weekend by calling Everton a 'small team'.
So why all the fuss? Benitez is only stating what everyone in football, (minus deluded Everton supporters) already knows to be the truth.
Everton have long lived in the shadow of their more illustrious rivals, bar for their golden era of the 1980s under Howard Kendall when they had, admittedly, as good a club side this country has seen in modern times.
Even then though, their League championship triumphs in 1985 and 1987 and their European Cup Winners Cup triumph in 1985 were probably overshadowed by Liverpool's Double in 1986.
But Kevin Ratcliffe, Neville Southall and Co are now long forgotten and David Moyes' current class of 2007 are just not in the same league as either their predecessors or Rafa's Reds.
True, Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta are a touch of class on their day and it surely won't be too long before some of Europe's big guns come calling for these two supremely-talented midfielders.
And if there is a more suited player in the English game to assume Paul Scholes' eventual mantle at Manchester United than Cahill, then I have yet to see him...
But let's not wander too far away from the fact of the matter here: Everton are the second-best team in Liverpool so therefore as a 'small-minded' (if not a 'small') club, would regard a point at Anfield as a great result. That, coupled together with a 3-0 victory over the Reds back in September, probably means that for Everton supporters, the 2006/07 campaign will be regarded as a successful season.
Everton fans might count Benitez's comments as that of a bitter manager, frustrated by his side's inability to crack a defence expertly marshalled by Alan Stubbs, Joseph Yobo and the ever-improving Joleon Lescott.
And whilst there is an element of truth in that assessment, you can't help but admiring Benitez's honesty in stating what all football fans were thinking. No-one wants to watch a side sticking 10 men behind the ball and showing no ambition to gain anything more than a dreary point. Everton went to Anfield with 'small ideas', 'small-minded tactics' that befit everything associated with a 'small team' with a 'small mentality'.
So was Benitez wrong to say what he did? No, because it was the truth. The fact that he touched a nerve in every bitter Everton supporter nationwide is not his fault.
I mean, it must be hard being an Evertonian. No-one wants to watch their most bitter rivals collect trophy after trophy over the years and even rain on their parade when they were in fact themselves quite good.
As a supporter of a team who have fallen on far harder times than the likes of Everton, I'm easy ammunition for any bitter Toffees. And I admit, if my team went to Anfield, we'd be lucky to get away with a 5-0 stuffing. And if we collected a point, then I suppose I too would be celebrating. But that's the point that Everton are missing. It was a great point for them because for a 'small team' living on past glories (and recent qualification for the preliminary stages of the Champions League does not count!) a draw at Anfield is to be savoured.
Rafa's frustration was that when Chelsea came to Anfield recently, they didn't come looking for a point. They came looking for three. Big team equals big mentality. As a result, Liverpool were able to play their natural game and collect a victory that was possible because they weren't facing 11 men with the sole intention of suffocating the life out of what should have been a decent game.
Therefore, who can say Rafa was wrong? Small team, small expectations, big point.
I belive a rule was invented in the wake of Liverpool not making the top 5. An extra place was allocated to Liverpool to make 5 English teams but I believe the 4th place team in Spain had to make way for Reals inclusion. It's the Countries own F.A.s who decide whom enters the competion. The English F.A. stuck by Everton for finishing forth so therefore Fifa and/or Uefa made special dispensation. The rule then was changed that should the holders finish outside the CL places one of those teams that finished inside the CL places would have to make way.
The rule hadn't been invented for Real Madrid. There was no precedent set there because UEFA didn't decide to put Real Madrid in the Champion's League. The decision to enter Real Madrid came from the Spanish FA, as UEFA had said it was the decision of country's Football Associations to decide which clubs were entered in European competition. Zaragoza had finished fourth amd were rightly #$%$ off to lose their place as the Spanish FA had indicated that the top four teams would qualify. In this case it was the Spanish FA that bent their rules, not UEFA. The English FA had already stated that the top four teams would qualify and be put forward into the Champion's League regardless of whether Liverpool won it or not. In this case it was UEFA that changed the rules, because one of their beloved clubs didn't qualify through the proper channels. Besides the European Championship winners have to requalify for the next competition, why shouldn't it be the same for anyone else?
Amen to pad!
Now lets look at the facts over here, you finishing fourth is the highlight of the decade for Everton, and will be for years to come, while we'll be celebrating trophies year after year. Okay, fair enough, this particular year hasn't be the best for us, but a community shield at the back of our trophy cabinet would be paraded around Goodison at half time after every match for you pricks! Rules change, get over it!
Not one to spend much time on message boards, but felt I had to answer the damming justification of why Everton are a "small-minded" club.
1. The initial criticism of Benitez's remarks was due to the fact that he claimed Everton were a "Small" club, not "small-minded" so either your or his command of the English language is suspect.
2. In any case, Everton are neither.
3. Everton played the way they saw fit in order to get the best result they could, which in the end could have been even better had Johnson converted the best chance of the match.
Indeed, the tactics reminded me a lot of those used by Benitez on route to the Champions' League in 2005. Playing defensively to defeat Chelsea and Juventus to get to the final seemed perfectly acceptable then, didn't it?