Belfast Telegraph

Dalglish savours derby intensity

Kenny Dalglish insists little has changed in the Merseyside derby as he prepares to return to Goodison Park as Liverpool manager for the first time since quitting as Reds boss 20 years ago.

Just a couple of days after seeing Everton striker Tony Cottee score two late goals in a 4-4 draw extra-time in a fifth-round FA Cup replay on February 20 1991, the Scot walked out on his beloved club, citing health issues.

Dalglish said: "The competition is still as intense and the desire to win is the same as before. I don't think it has devalued - it doesn't matter how long ago it was you have been involved or not or how recently. It is a Merseyside derby and like everyone who has been involved in it they think it is the most important one."

There has been the feeling in recent years that Liverpool's greatest rivals are Manchester United and not Everton, but Dalglish said that was not something he had considered.

"Anyone put in front of us is a rival - we are not going to have a pecking order of who our greatest rivals are," he said.

"We just want to play against whoever is put in front of us because that is all we can compete against."

New players like Charlie Adam, Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and January signing Andy Carroll, who arrived after the Anfield derby, are all expected to play a part in their first all-Merseyside clash. However, Dalglish has no qualms about them coping in what can be a pressurised atmosphere.

"I think the Rangers-Celtic derby has given Charlie a good grounding, Andy has had the north-east derby and Stewart has had Villa-Birmingham - which is not the smallest," said the Scot.

"They may not have experienced this derby but they have all experienced a derby of some sorts."

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