Only money can restore glory days for Mersey giants, says Sharp

Not since JR Ewing’s pomp have events in Dallas held such fascination in Liverpool as they did last week with Tom Hicks’ ultimately futile machinations, yet Merseyside’s red half will hope to avoid another echo of the 1980s at Goodison Park today. Liverpool enter the contest in a relegation berth and should they fail to win their 214th duel with Everton, it will be the first time since October 1984 that they have ended derby day in the bottom three.

As the provider of Everton’s winner that day – a spectacular 25-yard volley – Graeme Sharp remembers it better than most. Liverpool were reigning English and European champions but under new manager Joe Fagan had made their worst start for two decades, winning two of 10 league games. Howard Kendall’s team prevailed 1-0 for a first Anfield triumph in 14 years and Sharp, second only to Dixie Dean in Everton’s scoring pantheon, recalls: “People remember my goal but the most important thing was we won the game and that gave us the belief we had something special. They’d been the top dogs for so long.” Everton ended the campaign with the first of two league crowns in three seasons, while Liverpool recovered to finish runners-up.

Sharp says he will be “too nervy” watching in Goodison’s Main Stand today but he relished his own derby scraps, notably with Match of the Day pair Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. “They were great footballers who looked good on the ball if you gave them time so our philosophy was, ‘don’t give them time ... when you get the chance, put the ball in the box’, because Alan was the first to admit heading was not his biggest asset. Alan was too good-looking to be a centre half and wasn’t into the flying elbows so we had an advantage if we made it a scrap. But don’t get me wrong, they had hard players too like Graeme Souness. The derbies have changed in recent years with the influx of foreign players. Then there was a real desire and determination to put one over on your neighbours and everyone had that same attitude. You’d kick lumps out of each other but meet them afterwards in the pub in Southport.”

Given the clubs’ league positions, the era when English football supremacy was a parochial affair played out across Stanley Park now seems almost as distant as 1899 and the last derby featuring the pair in the relegation zone. With football’s traditional cycles a thing of the past, Sharp suspects only money can restore the glory days to either team. “For Everton and Liverpool to get back to the 1980s when they ruled football it will take massive investment in both clubs to try and get us up there again. Liverpool look as if they are closer to that than Everton.”

Of their immediate future, Sharp acknowledges that both “need to start winning” if Europe is to remain a realistic aim. Everton’s pre-season optimism – fuelled by two defeats in 24 league outings up to May – has vanished with another poor start and the Scot identifies the key problem as a toothless attack, with only six goals in seven matches. “Our all-round performances have been decent apart from the Newcastle game here. We’ve passed the ball well but in that final third we can’t kill teams off.”

Yet he maintains that David Moyes has the better group of players. “Roy Hodgson has inherited a squad poor in quality. I said last season Liverpool had probably the worst squad since I’ve been down here. There are great players in [Fernando] Torres, [Steven] Gerrard, [Pepe] Reina, [Jamie] Carragher but around it not the quality.”

Yet the timing of this fixture may favour Liverpool, and not just for the ownership saga’s successful conclusion. With Torres back and Phil Jagielka and Marouane Fellaini newly injured, Sharp – citing the absent Steven Pienaar – fears for Everton if Liverpool go in front on a ground where they have won eight out of the last 10 league derbies. “If they score first, I can’t see where we are going to get a goal from. I hope I’m wrong.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m