Everton fans can't win in Manchester City and Liverpool debate

Clive Brunskill

Everton fans got some stick for apparently not supporting their team on Saturday, but is that justified? I don't think so.

Well, what a strange weekend that was.

Everton were billed as unlikely heroes, bosom buddies with their city rivals, ready to trip up Manchester City and hand the title on a plate to their dearest neighbours.

We were even treated to some lovely photoshops of a bright red Everton badge as well as Brendan Rodgers and Luis Suarez in Everton gear outside Goodison - a sickening sight but all part of the rivalry.

Yet when we didn’t follow the script it wasn’t because City could call upon £200million worth of attacking talent, it was because Everton didn’t really try and the fans weren’t bothered.

To be fair it wasn’t all Liverpool fans who peddled this myth, just some particularly loud ones on Twitter and Facebook. But what was more worrying was that they were actively encouraged by the media.

They appeared determined to paint out Everton as meddling saboteurs, bitterly ruining the Liverpool fairy-tale by giving in to City.

Gary Neville even said "I’m bored" mid-commentary. Given his employers want to paint their number one product as thrilling and exciting the last thing they want is one of their highest paid stars to do is slag off a game.

The game wasn’t even that bad, certainly better than the Arsenal v West Brom game 24 hours later. So why say it?

Because it suited the narrative perhaps? Because it suited the conspiracy theories? It seemed a bit irresponsible, mischievous and completely inaccurate.

Yes, I admit it was a strange atmosphere at Goodison on Saturday and most fans were just glad to get the game out of the way and deal with the consequences.

But you know what atmosphere it reminded me of? An end-of-season atmosphere. An atmosphere you find when the home team has little riding on the game and a win, loss or draw will have little consequence. Certainly not one to "fuel conspiracy theories" as another journalist put it.

Everton were not going to finish fourth and are not going to drop beyond fifth, why should the fans act like their game was a cup final just because it would help Liverpool?

We ran a poll on the site last week and the vast majority of the supporters wanted Everton to win, even if it helped Liverpool.

The fans at Goodison duly got behind the team, they cheered when Everton scored and pushed the team on in the second half.

I admit that the defeat had its silver lining given it tripped up Liverpool – all fans would admit that. But that didn’t translate into a half-baked performance from the team (why would they? Most of them aren’t Everton fans anyway and the one who is scored the opening goal). It certainly didn't mean Everton fans were cheering City goals, not from where I was sitting anyway and even if some did they were in the minority.

But still there was this impression from the media that Everton threw the game, almost as if they had made their minds up on that opinion before the match kicked off.

That fuelled some Liverpool fans' sense of entitlement and encouraged the #blameeverton rubbish on Twitter that evening.

What made it worse was that Liverpool fans have been in a similar position to Everton twice in the Premier League. In 1995 they barely cheered when Jamie Redknapp scored the winner against Blackburn, thinking it may hand United the title.

Then in 2010 Liverpool limped to a 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea, with a banner at Anfield reading "cockney for a day".

Those events didn’t seem to cause the ructions this game has.

It seemed that whatever Everton and the supporters did on Saturday they were going to be accused of not doing enough given the unusual situation they found themselves in.

But given moral high ground is hard to find when it comes to football fans everyone involved should climb off their pedestal for a moment.

Personally I'm glad the game is now out of the way and Liverpool and Man City can shoot out for the title without Everton getting unfairly caught in the crossfire.

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