LIVERPOOL – Everton manager David Moyes has insisted winning Sunday’s Merseyside derby away to Liverpool is about far more than personal pride.
The Scot has been in charge at Goodison Park for 11 years but has still to oversee an away win at nearby Anfield, where Liverpool haven’t lost to their local rivals since 1999.
Everton still have an outside hope of a Champions League place, with Moyes’ men currently trailing Tottenham Hotspur by three points having played a game more than the current occupiers of fifth spot.
But the Europa League is well within Everton’s sights and the effect of a victory Sunday on the club as a whole is what matters most to Moyes.
“For Everton — for the team and the supporters — it will mean an awful lot, but personally, it is not an important thing really. I’m looking forward to trying to get a result for the supporters.
“The higher up you finish you get more money, but finishing in Europe is attractive for most players,” Moyes added. “The focus is to get one of those spots. It will be tough but we will do whatever we can.”
Victory for Everton would ensure they finish above the Reds for the second successive season but Moyes, much praised for managing Everton on a relatively tight budget yet frustrated by his failure to bring a trophy to Goodison, said that was of minor concern.
“You want to finish above every team — I wanted to finish above Manchester United and Manchester City this season,” Moyes said.
“Do I want to finish above Liverpool? Of course I do. But it can’t be our sole objective, and I would be surprised if it was Liverpool’s to finish above us.
“In terms of our target at the moment, we are looking to see if we can catch Tottenham or one of the other teams above us.”
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was faced with the prospect of his side not even being the best in the city for a second successive season — something that hasn’t happened since 1937.
“It’s very important to finish as high as we possibly can,” Rodgers said. “Traditionally, over many years Liverpool have been the top team here in the city, there’s no question about that.
“Last year Everton finished above ourselves, but for us this year it’s really about finishing as high as we possibly can.
“It’ll be tough because they’re a good side and David has done a brilliant job there with the group. They’ve had another very good season but we’re coming into the game with real confidence.
“Our idea going forward is that we’re going to be in a position next year where we can challenge consistently at the top level.”
Despite the 14-year gap since Everton’s last win at Anfield, Rodgers does not believe they will get much benefit from looking at previous results against the Toffees.
“I never read too much into that sort of stuff,” he said. “When we went to Wigan this year, the team hadn’t won there for a number of years but we played very well and won the game.”
Everton captain Phil Neville will not play on Sunday in what would have been his final Merseyside derby before he leaves the club as he continues to struggle with a knee problem but Darron Gibson could return from a hip injury.
Liverpool are without long-term absentees Joe Allen and Martin Kelly.(AFP)