And now, Thomas's answers to my questions about our blue, and clearly inferior, neighbors. Check out their blog, which is really quite good, at Royal Blue Mersey.
1. Rate your season so far:
A bit up and down, but compared to our starts over recent seasons it’s a good one – we have won a few games for starters. The biggest disappointment was, of course, the QPR game, the City defeat was perhaps expected and I will take seven points from Blackburn, Wigan and Villa.
2. Who has been the biggest surprise for you this term?
Probably young Greek striker Apostos Velios. Not a lot was made of his arrival last January and he spent the rest of the last season in the reserves. But he impressed after coming on against Villa earlier this month and then scored his first senior goal the following weekend. Fingers crossed he turns out to be another Moyes ‘bargain buy’.
3. In all honesty, how much longer is David Moyes going to put up with having lint in the club's pockets, and what do you think he could achieve with an actual budget?
That’s what all Evertonians are worried about. His silence over the summer suggested he was reaching the end of his tether. He has shown when he has had money to spend that he can build competitive teams – if he was given £20million a season to spend – small money in Premier League terms – he could build an Everton team good enough to break into the top four. Sadly that doesn’t look like happening anytime soon and as soon as a decent job becomes available I think he will jump ship.
4. Total Yank bias, but what do Everton fans think of Tim Howard?
All Everton goalkeepers will be compared to the great Neville Southall and while Howard isn’t quite up to that standard yet, the fact he has been most consistent goalkeeper since Southall left nearly 15 years ago it shows just how well he has done. He is always prone to the odd lapse in concentration but I think all Blues acknowledge that he more than makes up for that with some outstanding saves.
5. Royston Drenthe seemed to be a sneaky pickup at the deadline, how's he fit in?
He has only played as a substitute so far as he settles in and builds-up his fitness but from what I have seen he could be a great player. He seems like the sort of guy who needs careful man-management and can be a bit temperamental, but he appears to have all the attributes so if the club can help him channel it in the right way, he could be a decent signing.
6. Why do you think the bile has been raised in these derbies recently?
I think both fans have grown at frustrated at their relative decline since the highs of the 80s and that manifests itself in fiery derby matches. With no titles to play for then the supporters need something to cling too, placing importance in getting something from these sorts of games. That then transmits itself to the players, which explains why there are so many red cards in the fixture. Until both clubs get back to where the fans feel they belong, I can’t see that changing.
7. Prediction for Saturday:
Hmm a tough one as ever, our recent derby record aint that great, despite a win and a draw last season. However, I think we are good enough on this occasion to grab a narrow win. I’m going for 2-1, with a red card a piece for good measure.