Keep Your Enemies Closer: A Q+A With Royal Blue Mersey

Expect Cabaye and Jelavic to have a "Come at Bro" square off.

By now, we all know what is at stake on Sunday. A potential Champions League spot for us, and a chance to finish ahead of hated rival Liverpool for Everton. With Survival Sunday less than 24 hours away, I present to you a Q+A with Calvin of Royal Blue Mersey, Everton's local SBNation joint. Everton are well renowned as one of the most likable sides in the Premiership, and RBM does a great job of representing that cordiality and affability. This was definitely one of the most enjoyable and in-depth question exchanges I've done, and I'll take "no pleasure at all*" in having to go through them in order to make our mark in Champions League. You can find my responses here. The Q+A after the jump!

*Any GFOPs on CHN?

1. A wonderful season for Everton this year! How does it feel to know you've got a good shot of finishing ahead of Liverpool? Would finishing ahead of them on the table wipe away some of the anguish of going 0-3 in the Merseyside Derby? Is it disappointing to come so close to Europe without anything to really "show" for it?
Not as good as hoped unfortunately. The fanbase had high hopes of contending for a European place but the team spent too much time in the lower half of the table at the beginning of the season. Even another sparkling second half revival was not enough to get back into the European spots. Everyone would gladly have given up ending ahead of Liverpool for a win in the FA Cup semifinal, but alas that was not to be.

2. What are your thoughts on David Moyes? He seems to be a magician who consistently had made the best looking dish with the slimmest of ingredients. Do you think he'll be at Everton for the long haul, or could opportunities at Chelsea or Spurs lure him away?
David Moyes has said before that he is at Everton for the long haul. One gets the feeling that he has this 'unfinished business' thing that keeps him going after ten years at Everton, where he is yet to win a trophy of some sort. The FA appointing Roy Hodgson might have sealed the deal for Moyes staying, because it means Harry Redknapp staying at White Hart Lane. I doubt Moyes was ever in contention for the Chelsea job, firstly because he is not the big name owner Roman Abramovich is looking for, secondly Pep Guardiola is now available and third if Chelsea do win the Champions' League Final, Roberto di Matteo might actually get a shot at continuing in his role. The only job I see Moyes leaving for now is if Sir Alex Ferguson decides he's had enough at Old Trafford.
3. As long as we're talking staff, what are your thoughts on Kenwright and Co. in the front office? Do you faith that there will be investment, or will the worries of balancing the books lead to another Rooney (or more recently, Arteta) like PTSD experience for Toffees fans? How safe are the young guns like Rodwell, Silva, and Vellios?
It's a Catch-22 situation at Everton. We'd love some new ownership with a cash injection so that Moyes can finally have some transfer funds. But the Blackburn-Venky's experience certainly is a warning across the league that a new owner does not magically fix everything, unless like at Manchester City, there really are bottomless coffers which seemingly can buy happiness. As long as there is no big money behind the scenes, Everton will remain a club that grooms future stars for sale.
The Blue Union had some of the right ideas earlier this year as they raised their voices about apparent mismanagement in the front office, but the chaotic and riotous way they acted ensured they would not be taken seriously.
4. After a bizarre set of circumstances, notably Landon Donavan's undying support and Tim Howard's stalwart goalkeeping, Everton have developed a reputation stateside as "America's Team." What are you thoughts on Everton's presence in America? Do you think the club/staff is aware of this sentiment and plans or capitalize, or is it little more than whimsy? Any young Americans you'd be keen to get your hands on?
There are definitely two Americans that Moyes wants on his side badly - one is the aforementioned Donovan, who has sparked the team on both his stints at the club, and the other is Clint Dempsey, who has been lethal this year for Fulham and consistently puts in the hard work on the pitch that Moyes admires so much. With Tim Cahill starting to finally fade, Dempsey would be the perfect player to slot into that role behind the striker and come up with timely goals too.
I doubt that Moyes is specifically targeting American players, he is just that kind of manager who looks for a certain work ethic from his players, no matter how motley a crew that results in - the current squad has British, Australian, American, Croatian, Dutch, French, Belgian, South African and many others.
5. Where do you see Everton going next season? No silverware since 1995 has got to sting (said the Newcastle fan ironically). Do you think that "Moyes and The Boyes" will be stuck in mid-table "better than average" mediocrity, or do think you can make a serious push for Europe, and success therein? Are Everton the best side in Liverpool?
Without some significant funding, unfortunately Everton will find themselves in the same place as this year. Effort will only take you so far, but we will remain on the outside looking in at the big boys and upstarts sitting at the high table. Funnily enough, the second half form table has told a different story in the last few years - a good start to the season might be all it takes for the Toffees to make that jump into the #4-#6 spots.
If you're asking me if Everton is a better team over the duration of a season than Liverpool, I will say yes. However there seems to be a mental block the boys in blue have and need to get over pronto whenever they play the folk from across town, and it goes up right to the manager. Moyes has made some headscratching tactical decisions when playing Liverpool and the derby results over the last ten years show that.

6. Speaking of the future, do you think that new stadium is ever going to happen? Is The Kirkby Project completely dead, or is there hope? How would you feel about leaving Goodison?
Most season-ticket holders would rather not leave the city centre for the Kirkby suburbs which are not very accessible by public transport. And then Her Majesty's Government put an end to any hopes after stating that moving the stadium away from the city centre would contravene laws protecting businesses within the city limits.
The new stadium plans now seem to be tied in with the new ownership issue. Fans would love for a moneybags owner to come in and flash the cash to build a new 75,000-seater stadium and let Moyes buy a bunch of world-class players. That doesn't look like it's happening anytime soon.

7. Who has been your MVP this season? If Kenwright decides to throw another axe at the Barclay's debt, whose head do you think will roll to the highest bidder? Which player would be the hardest to see depart?
The Everton awards ceremony was held just last night, with Johnny Heitinga winning the player of the year award, and Sylvain Distin being named the players' player of the year. Personally I felt Leighton Baines should have been in the conversation as well with his consistent performances. But kudos to Heitinga and Distin, both have been exemplary in the back after Phil Jagielka got injured and played big parts in the second half revival as Everton climbed up the table.
Everton's most valuable commodity right now would be Baines, and word is Sir Alex has his eye on him as the long-term replacement for Patrice Evra. There is always talk about Jack Rodwell too, but the boy needs to get more games under his belt before anything else happens. Baines leaving would definitely hurt the side the most, he has been a key part of this team and Everton have no backup for him either, with Distin playing in his spot while he has been injured the last few weeks.

8. Finally, a prediction for Sunday's exciting match!? I'm sure Goodison Park will be rocking, and there is plenty on the line for both squads.
Ahh, we'll all be hoping to see some good attacking football from both sides. As scores from other games come filtering through, I expect that to influence what we see on the pitch. I doubt Cisse can be kept off the scoresheet, and Jelavic has been in excellent form too. I'd pick both to score and Pienaar to pop up with the winner for a 2-1 Everton scoreline.

Bonus: Round out your top 9 for us. Where do the CL Spots fall? Who does get to hold the mantle of "Best Team in Liverpool?" ... also, Fulham... because they won't go away.
1) City, 2) United, 3) Arsenal, 4) Tottenham, 5) Newcastle [sorry!], 6) Chelsea, 7) Everton, 8) Liverpool, 9) Fulham.

Thanks, mate! I know I asked a lot, but I'm genuinely curious about Everton. You're one of the more personable and likable sides in the Premier League, and I'm an American, so I definitely have a soft spot for Timmy Howard. Feel free to inundate me with questions, as these are definitely my favorite pieces to post and write!
You're welcome, it's a pleasure! No surprises, but half the Royal Blue Mersey crew are American-based too!
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