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  1. The shite, managed by an ex-Liverpool boss the Everton fans have long derided to be a fat Spanish waiter, at the pit on Wednesday night, live on Amazon Prime. Not a sentence anyone would have thought possible little over a decade ago, and yet here we are. The name in the hot-seat may have changed from last year, but bloody hell do we owe this lot. Many of last year’s problems had their roots in this fixture, and what the mongrels got away with beggars belief. Incidentally, that's two managers they've had who've exchanged the Bernabeu for the Barn Of Boo in recent years, on top of another who exchanged the Boo Camp for the Nou Camp. Anyway: Front foot. Urgency. Up-tempo football. Utter domination. Creativity. Know-how! I don’t ask for much. Yeah, last year’s game was practically a blueshite fan’s wet dream. They are more bothered about fucking us up than actually beating us. They love to see their players try to cripple ours. They love to roll out the blue carpet for fans of club that are ‘rivals’ to us, laying on the sandwich platters and having their heads patted by people who openly sing about the city and Scousers being workshy dole-queuing hubcap-stealing Neanderthals who eat rats as a treat in their slums. They love it when their team gets a pasting by these so-called ‘rivals’ because it makes things harder for our team. They love David Fucking Coote. I’d never heard of him before that day, but it’s safe to say I know that fucking idiot now. Even Boris the Biff would struggle to make such a hash of things. Two wrong VAR decisions that left me cursing Coote’s dad for not pulling out of his mum at the opportune moment! Sadio had given us an early lead. T-Rex Arms and his reckless lunge put Virg out for the season. Two headed goals conceded. Mo curling in a belter with almost no backlift. And then Hendo denied a last-minute winner when Sadio’s elbow was adjudged to be a millimetre offside. You can’t score a goal with your elbow but that didn’t matter to Coote. He and PGMOL were firmly on the side of looking to rule out perfectly legitimate goals for the most minor of infractions (or non-infractions), and we were on the receiving end of this shit all season. Of course we’ve had much better days at the woodshed. I could have pulled up any number of famous away wins (“Rushie scored 4!” anyone?) but I’ve chosen 6th December 1969. Shanks’ lads made the short trip to take on Harry Catterick’s Blues and their “Holy Trinity” of Ball, Kendall and Harvey. Breezeblock Head Joe Royle played up front for them. It was a side that would claim the league title that very season. By contrast, ours was a side that was in the process of being broken up as many of the manager’s stalwarts no longer had the legs. In this game it didn’t show though, as both the effervescent Emlyn Hughes and striking understudy Bobby Graham got on the scoresheet in a resounding 3-0 win. The game is best remembered for one of the greatest own goals ever. Certainly the greatest in a derby. Step forward Sandy Brown and your magnificent diving header. The big film in early December 1969 is another piece of utter magnificence. George Roy Hill directed it. Paul Newman and Robert Redford became box office gold off the back of it. Katharine Ross played it perfectly understated. Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid is an endlessly quotable, enormously enjoyable caper where the charismatic leader of a gang of railroad bank robbers and the fastest gunslinger in the West try to escape the mysterious white-hatted bounty hunter Lafors and his team of trackers, going as far as Bolivia. The film is so well done, you can forgive the Burt Bacharach musical number and long montage sequence in the middle of the film. Somehow they don’t detract from the whole experience. Butch’s last line is an absolute gem to go out on. Fuego! We know from experience that Rafa favours pragmatism over expansive football, and I wouldn’t expect any different here. I’ve no idea what overall shape his team are in because they just look like Everton regardless. They’re about where I’d expect them to be. We’ve had an excellent week and the worry would be that we then go and lay an egg on Wednesday night. But this is a group of players that know how to get a job done, and Jurgen’s list of available options is slowly increasing as players make their way back from lay-offs and others find a bit of form. We know we have what it takes to go there and win. Just go there and do it, and make their fans once again be like that guy in the gif.
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