Everton begin their Carabao Cup campaign with a game against Championship side Rotherham at Goodison Park.
The Toffees go into the game unbeaten so far this season but hold a sense of frustration after conceding a two-goal lead late on against Bournemouth on Saturday. It was perhaps the first reminder that the team remains in transition despite the significant early strides made by new boss Marco Silva.
Despite fielding pretty much the same side as Sam Allardyce did last season, bar Richarlison, Silva has transformed the team’s style of play. The dynamic, forward-thinking, attacking football we all craved is back and so too is the bond between players and fans.
Changing Everton’s style was one of Silva’s primary tasks but I’m sure an end to the club’s trophy drought was also high on his to-do list. It’s been far too long (23 years, if you’re counting) for a club of Everton’s stature to go without major silverware so any opportunity to end that barren run must be taken seriously.
The team is most definitely in transition but they are certainly good enough to go far in this competition given many of their rivals will not take it seriously. Frustratingly, Everton have a terrible record in the EFL Cup over the years, regularly being dumped out of the competition by lower league opposition. With no Europe to distract them Everton once again find themselves ideally placed to have a real go at this trophy, which they have never won in their history.
Whether they can change the habit of a lifetime though remains to be seen.
Everton v Rotherham United is not a fixture you come across very often. Indeed, Wednesday’s game will be only the 11th match between the two sides.
The last meeting was a two-legged League Cup tie in 1992 which Everton won 3-1 on aggregate. The only league meetings came during Everton’s dark days in Division Two in the early fifties.
Founded in 1925 as a merger between Rotherham Town and Rotherham County, Rotherham United spent their early years in Division Three North but have spent most of their existence floating between the Championship and League One (in their various guises).
After relegation from the Championship in 2017 the South Yorkshire club bounced straight back the following year with victory over Shrewsbury in the play-offs. They are managed by former midfielder Paul Warne who joined on an initial short-term deal in January 2017 before signing a permanent deal that summer. The Millers have made a steady start to the new season, with two wins and three defeats, to sit safely in mid-table.
Trophies have been in short supply throughout their history, with three lower league titles to their name. They were however runners-up in the first edition of the League Cup in 1961.
Everton will be without the suspended Richarlison following his dismissal at Bournemouth on Saturday. Phil Jagielka also serves the final game of his three-match ban.
Michael Keane is sidelined for at least a month after suffering a fractured skull late on at the Vitality Stadium with Kurt Zouma in contention to make his first start.
Lucas Digne and Bernard are also likely to feature as Marco Silva utilises his squad. Fellow new signings Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes are not expected to be fit until after the international break.
Ademola Lookman is fit and available so his selection - or non-selection - could give us a clue as to where his future lies with rumours of a move to RB Leipzig persisting.
Meanwhile Rotherham boss Paul Warne he will make significant changes to his side for the trip to Goodison, meaning we are likely to see a vastly different side to the one that best Millwall on Sunday.
It’s regularly been mentioned on this site about how important it is for Everton to target the Carabao Cup. It’s eminently winnable and would help cast off the shackles that have held the club down for years.
I expect Silva to make changes as the game represents a decent opportunity to bed-in new signings. However, I hope we don’t become too complacent and see this game added to Everton’s long list of EFL Cup disappointments.