September 2008 Archives
THERE is a theory in football that should be remembered when you are at a low ebb - things can turn dramatically on one result.
After the crushing disappointment of the weekend defeat against Liverpool, Everton will travel to Belgium knowing they will be second favourites to book a place in the UEFA Cup group stages, and there is bound to be a shortage of confidence.
But don't for one minute believe that the white flag will get hoisted before kick-off. There has got to be a belief among the players they can beat Standard Liege and get the result which will kick things into gear.
The problem we have at the minute, however, is an inability to keep clean sheets, and if the Blues continue to gift the opposition goals, we are going to have enormous problems. Liege, as we saw in the first leg, are certainly good enough to take advantage.
So the key to success in Liege is strength - the lads have got to stick together when they come under pressure and ensure they get to half-time without conceding. Even being 0-0 with 20 minutes remaining is terrific because the manager can start to make changes then.
TAKE the positives - there was no own goal and Joe Kinnear is not waiting in the wings to become manager.
But, then again, that's the footballing equivalent of losing a crisp ÃÂ£50 note and finding five pence. No defeat hurts an Evertonian more than one inflicted by the side from across Stanley Park and this latest reverse is especially hard to stomach.
Unable to pin the blame on an erratic referee or point to a contentious, damaging decision, the sight of thousands of empty blue seats long before Mike Riley blew the final whistle was a damning indictment about the way the 208th Merseyside derby had gone.
It was, unfortunately, the latest in a long line of crushing blows that have been suffered during what has been a calamitous start and those who traipsed disillusioned out of the old stadium on Saturday believe Everton have 90 minutes this week to save the season.
On present form, there won't be too many predicting an away win and they can't be blamed. Devoid of confidence, lacking shape and unable to keep a clean sheet, watching Everton stutter and stumble now is breaking the hearts of those of the Royal Blue faith.