Sylvain Distin believes that, deep down, the whole of Merseyside wants to see both Everton and Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League next season.
Distin helped the Toffees to a 3-0 win against Arsenal last Sunday, which sees them move within a single point of the Gunners in the race for a top-four finish. And although Roberto Martinez’s men have the more difficult run-in of the two teams, they also have an advantage in that they have a game to allow them to assume pole position.
Across Stanley Park, meanwhile, Liverpool’s 2-1 win at West Ham United has edged them ever closer to a first league title since 1990. And with the only two sides who can stop them – Manchester City and Chelsea – yet to visit Anfield, there is a growing belief that Brendan Rodgers will lead them to a 19th championship come the end of May.
Due to the rivalry on Merseyside there have been suggestions that some Everton fans would prefer to lose their match at home to City even if it halts their top-four bid, if it means Manuel Pellegrini’s side go on to beat Liverpool for the title. Distin, though, believes deep down, the whole of Merseyside is united in the Champions League goal.
“We’ve spoken about it with some of the staff and said, ‘What if we have to beat City to be in the Champions League, but by doing that Liverpool win the League’?” said the defender. “The funny thing is some people would rather we don’t get Champions League as long as they don’t win the league. It’s mad! It would be amazing for the city if both clubs made it. Deep down all the fans would like it if we were both were in it.”
Of course, the ultimate nightmare for Evertonians would be for Liverpool to win the league, the Toffees to finish fourth – and their former manager, David Moyes, to lead Manchester United to the Champions League title. Such a scenario would see the men from Old Trafford, currently in seventh place, take their place in next season’s competition.