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Critics of Jurgen Klopp are stupid; he has won the globe – Mark Douglas

Mark Douglas speaks with the former Liverpool and Everton midfielder about the Merseyside derby, Klopp’s troubles, and Dyche’s quick start.Information Guide Nigeria

Don Hutchison is one of only a few Everton captains to have triumphed at Anfield. But it is not the 1999 victory over their arch-rivals, gained by a display of industry and endeavour that was the pinnacle of the Walter Smith era, that he remembers.


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“He pulled up in the team coach and took us right into the heart of Liverpool city centre for a fry up in our Everton tracksuits. We swanned around town all morning like we owned the city. It was absolutely brilliant.

“He wanted us to shake off the inferiority complex that Everton had around the game, to show that we were equals and it’s always stuck with me.”

While it was a nice gesture, it proved to be ineffective.

Everton spent another 21 years without a win against their neighbors, and their lone triumph since then, in 2021, was gained without fans as the Premier League was contested in sterile, behind-closed-doors conditions in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.NYSC portal

They have rarely arrived at Anfield in poor health and would have been concerned about further injury just a few weeks ago. However, the appointment of Sean Dyche and the subsequent amazing success over Arsenal, combined with Liverpool’s dire record, has helped to turn expectations on their head.

Klopp gave his players two days off at the start of the week, sensing the walls closing in following the humiliation at Molineux. He believes they have returned in better shape, but Anfield will be tense.

“The pressure is on Jurgen Klopp for sure,” Hutchison says.

“But I am conflicted because I actually think it’s the perfect game for Liverpool to get their form back. Fans find it crazy when you say it but Wolves, Bournemouth or Southampton are the last type of team you want to play when you’re struggling for form.JAMB portal

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“The dynamic is totally different when you play those teams, you’re expected to win. The Merseyside derby is different, there’s no team talk required, there’s no negativity from the fans and the manager will look around his dressing room and know every player is up for it.”

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Hutchison criss-crossed Stanley Park in his career, following a short spell as a young player at Liverpool with a more decorated stint at Goodison Park.

A blood-and-thunder sort of midfielder who has turned into an insightful pundit, he finds it easy to put his finger on what players need to do to win a derby.

“For me it was easy. I used to play my best football in that kind of Merseyside derby atmosphere,” he says.

“I won at Newcastle with Sunderland and at Wembley with Scotland. They are brilliant games to play in, high octane, no holds barred. You don’t need a team talk, you just need to get wired in.

“I had a 50/50 with Didi Hamann early on and went over the top a bit. I got a bit of the ball but also his ankle and that sort of set the tone. I had another one with Jamie Redknapp 15 minutes later and he got the same treatment but it was one of those sorts of games.

“It’s changed a bit but setting the tone is absolutely key.”

Liverpool is trembling under Klopp, who is facing the first round of probing questions during his stint at Anfield.

“Anyone criticising him is an idiot. He’s conquered the world – he won the title, the European Cup and World Club Cup in a short space of time – and that gives him time and credibility,” Hutchison says.

“They need to rebuild, they probably need a bit more energy and legs in midfield but this is a bad five months from very good six-and-a-half years.”

Everton’s problems are just as acute, a toxic atmosphere having built as a result of perceived boardroom failings and an inability to strengthen a squad struggling badly.

Having said that, a managerial search that first alighted on Marcelo Bielsa before Dyche was ultimately appointed is looking positively serene compared to Leeds’s travails. And with Southampton also now looking for a new manager, they appear to have appointed their man in the nick of time.JAMB Result

Hutchison sees much to admire in Dyche, who reminds him of his former boss Smith on account of his honesty and commitment to “Evertonian values”.

“I honestly think he should have been the Everton manager six or seven years ago,” he said.

“The two marry up really well. Everton fans demand hard work, commitment, sweat and a desire to win. It’s exactly what he brings.

“It’s nice to have a Carlo Ancelotti but unless you’re trying to take the Champions League, which is a pipe dream at the moment, the man you want to have is Dyche. If they lose a game it won’t be because they don’t fancy it.

 

 

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