Everton 0 Liverpool 0: Young, gifted and British - Jordon Ibe hailed by Brendan Rodgers as two managers head in different directions

Roberto Martinez has to decide whether Gareth Barry’s loss of form is a blip or something longer term

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The Independent Online

In a phrase as old as the Merseyside derby, Everton and Liverpool finished with honours even. But as the two coaches pulled away from Goodison Park, the men they carried were heading in opposite directions.

Tomorrow, in a match that will be a full-blown test of their credentials to make next season’s Champions League, Liverpool face Tottenham and it is not just the fact that Brendan Rodgers’s side has won their last four matches against Spurs that should give them cause for optimism.

In Jordon Ibe, who came closest to breaking the sometimes grim deadlock at Goodison with a shot that crashed against Joel Robles’s post, they appear to have another of the footballers Rodgers constantly seeks – young, gifted and highly technical.

The Liverpool manager pointed out that it had been a good day for young English footballers, with Harry Kane and Ryan Mason overturning Arsenal’s lead in the north London derby and Ibe, who is still a teenager, “being obviously the man of this match”.

He added: “You cannot say young British players are not tactically or technically good enough. I thought all week this would be a good game for Jordon to come into. You can see his temperament.

“Maybe I have too much belief in young players but I see enough day to day to know the character of the player. It was a bit like Jon Flanagan, who was man of the match here last season. There is just a part of me that thinks you never know until you throw in a young player – and it doesn’t matter what the game is.”

Everton have another significant midweek fixture, at Chelsea. It was Roberto Martinez’s ability to win at Old Trafford and take a point from the Emirates, grounds where Everton had never looked comfortable under David Moyes, which helped cement his hold on the club. Very few of those who left Goodison on Saturday night expected anything similar to occur at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night.

Age is also a factor at Everton but Martinez has to decide whether Gareth Barry’s loss of form is a blip or something longer term in a midfielder who will be 34 this month.

Kevin Mirallas is seven years younger but his birthday is in October and you can get long odds that the cake will be presented at Everton’s Finch Farm training complex.

With an abject sense of timing, Mirallas had given an interview to a Belgian newspaper, which ran just before the derby, that quoted him as saying: “I have never said I absolutely want to leave Everton but I feel ready for a new challenge.” He added that he was aware Tottenham and Atletico Madrid were interested in him and that he “dreamed of playing in the Champions League”.

Martinez is growing tired of Mirallas and his monologues about the future. “I have nothing to say. I have never had a conversation with Kevin where he has told me he is not happy,” he said.

“He has still got a contract with Everton with two and a half years left. There is no decision to be made.”

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