The first Merseyside derby of the 2015 – 2016 English Premier League season. It was to be the final game of Brendan Rodgers’ reign as manager of Liverpool. Ahead because of a Danny Ings goal, Romelu Lukaku equalised for Everton to earn a 1 – 1 draw. The result left Liverpool in 10th place, which prompted a decision to replace Rodgers with Jurgen Klopp.
The German’s first counterpart at Everton was Roberto Martinez. They met for the one and only time in a Merseyside derby on 20 April 2016. It was Klopp that emerged victorious since his team won 4 – 0. The result was a highlight of a mediocre league season for Liverpool. They finished in 8th position, which was above Everton.
For a second successive season, they accumulated 47 points and were 11th. A lack of progress, despite significant investment to sign players such as Tom Cleverley, Ramiro Funes Mori, Aaron Lennon and Lukaku, cost Martinez his job. It was given to Ronald Koeman. He was poached from Southampton.
Just as Koeman improved Everton, Klopp created a stronger Liverpool team. They ended the 2016 – 2017 English Premier League season in 4th position. By doing so, Liverpool brought an end to their two – season exile from the UEFA Champions League by qualifying for the competition. An animated, charismatic and eccentric Klopp led his team to an impressive unbeaten record against the league’s top eight teams.
Among those were Everton. They finished 7th but lost both of their matches to Liverpool. In the first of those and the final league game before Christmas of 2016, a late Sadio Mane goal gave them a 1 – 0 victory at Goodison Park. Later in the season, across the River Mersey at Anfield, Klopp got the better of Koeman once again as Liverpool won 3 – 1.
Between that result and the next Merseyside derby, Everton changed manager twice. Nine games into the 2017 – 2018 English Premier League season, the day after a 5 – 2 defeat to Arsenal, Koeman was sacked. For a five – game spell, David Unsworth was Everton’s caretaker manager, but he did not get the job permanently. Instead it was handed to Sam Allardyce.
In his second game as manager, he led Everton to a 1 – 1 draw at Anfield to end Klopp’s 100% record in Merseyside derbies. A quality which Allardyce armoured his team with was they were difficult to beat. Once again Klopp found that out for himself in a third round F.A Cup tie, which Liverpool narrowly won 2 – 1. On his debut, the decisive goal was scored by Virgil Van Dijk.
He was part of a Liverpool team which drew their next league encounter 0 – 0 with Everton. Under the management of Allardyce, they finished the 2017 – 2018 campaign in 8th position, but because they did so playing an unattractive style of football, he lost his job. It was taken by Marcos Silva.
In contrast, Klopp emphatically remained in his post because he not only led Liverpool to a second successive 4th place finish in the league but also the UEFA Champions League final. They lost 3 – 1 to Real Madrid.
The final proved to be a step too far for Liverpool but without winning a trophy, Klopp has brought stability to the club. Recently that has been lacking at Everton. Since Silva replaced Allardyce, they are onto their fifth manager since Klopp’s reign at Liverpool begun in October 2015. Staying power is a sign of a job being well done.