Evans backs neighbours to put Liverpool back in title frame

Former Liverpool manager Roy Evans reckons Everton are capable of thrusting the Premier League title initiative back into the hands of their Merseyside rivals this Saturday by taking points off Manchester City.

Speaking yesterday during a trip to the Punchestown Festival, in the company of ex-Toffees boss Howard Kendall, Evans rubbished talk of Liverpool’s title dreams perishing on last Sunday’s defeat to fellow rivals Chelsea.

Current leaders Liverpool will enter Monday’s visit to Crystal Palace back in third spot should both City and Chelsea win their fixtures in the previous 48 hours.

Still, Evans — who managed the Reds from 1994-’98 — is backing Kendall’s former club to maintain their own Champions League qualification ambitions whilst reviving Pool’s title prospects.

“City have not been perfect this season,” reasoned the 65-year-old. “They have to go to Everton and get a result and that’s by no means a foregone conclusion.

“Everton have been great this campaign. Roberto Martinez will make sure they’re very professional on Saturday. We saw how good Everton can be at home in beating Arsenal well a few weeks ago and they could go out and do the same again.

“Of course, some Everton fans will not want us [Liverpool] to win, as we probably wouldn’t want them [to] in the same situation. Everton can do a favour for themselves — and for us. We’ve got to be positive.”

As a protege of the great Bill Shankly, Evans observes parallels between the Scot and the present king of Anfield Road. Brendan Rodgers will have his players tuned into a positive mind-set as the final stretch beckons.

Evans said: “Brendan is like Shanks in some ways. Shanks would be exactly the same in this situation to Brendan — telling the players: ‘let’s win our two games and put City under pressure’.”

Evans just hopes that the shock blunder by club captain Steven Gerrard on Sunday that gifted Chelsea the opener doesn’t prove decisive by costing the Reds their best chance of ending a 24-year title drought.

“It if comes to the stage where we don’t win it, Steven will look back and think, ‘that was my only chance to win the Premier League’,” said the man who witnessed Gerrard emerge from the club’s youth ranks.

“Steven is fantastic character and he deserves to win the title for the season he’s had.”

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