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Manchester United V Everton - Q&A with Royal Blue Mersey

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The Premier League has started, and the opening weekend has once again been fascinating. But the big one is Monday night for Manchester United and Everton fans, as they face off at Goodison Park. I done a Q&A with Calvin at SB Nations Everton blog Royal Blue Mersey. For the answers I gave to them, click here.

TBB: How will the losses of Rodwell and Cahill affect the squad? Are you happy with the price you got for the young Englishman? And did you expect the Aussie to move. Who do you expect to fill the wholes left by the two departing midfielders?

RBM: Both transfers were almost expected. Moyes is changing the face of the squad and trying to build up depth on his shoestring budget, Cahill moving on and selling Rodwell is part of that. Cahill has been a fantastic ambassador for Everton over the years and embodied Moyes' fighting spirit, but his age really started showing last season and he endured a miserable year. Rodwell has shown promise but has been injured often and one feels Moyes has lost patience with him and sold him off while he could still get a good price. The £12 million is a far cry from the lofty £20million that Sir Alex purportedly had bid last year, but Everton would gladly have taken what they could get with him.
In fact, the Rodwell money is already being put to good use with Moyes signing Belgian starlet Kevin Mirallas, and also in the market for French striker M'Baye Niang and Blackpool winger Matty Phillips.

TBB: Will Everton do as they should and not screw us about this year.....
Oct-10-2008: Everton 1-1 ManUtd
Feb-20-2010: Everton 3-1 ManUtd
Sep-11-2010: Everton 3-3 ManUtd
Apr-22-2012: ManUtd 4-4 Everton

RBM: Haha.. Trust me, Everton have not really screwed United over at all, not as much as your cross-city rivals, who have really struggled against us (to both your and our delight!) -

Jan 31 2012: Everton 1 - 0 Man City
Sep 24 2011: Man City 2 - 0 Everton
May 7 2011: Everton 2 - 1 Man City
Dec 20 2010: Man City 1 - 2 Everton
Mar 24 2010: Man City 0 - 2 Everton
Jan 16 2010: Everton 2 - 0 Man City

TBB: Why didn't Everton sign free agent Drenthe? He seemed a good enough talent? Attitude problems?

RBM: Apart from Drenthe being a very one-dimensional player on the field, there were plenty of off-pitch issues with him. He had been disciplined internally a few times for partying and tardiness for practices and games. That is just not the kind of player Moyes wants around at Finch Farm. Everton cannot afford to carry wingers who don't provide defensive cover and Drenthe was a real liability on the rare occasions he did fall back to help.

TBB: How much of this team's retention is down to Moyes not signing a long term contract? Or do you see it as players wanting to play for a "bigger club (No disrespect meant). Any chance of Moyes leaving next year (Is his contract up in a years time?)

RBM: None taken, we know which way the bread is buttered. The reason Toffee fans took offense to Mancini's comments about Everton was because of how he referred to City as a club with a winning mentality as if no one else was even trying. Obviously his repeated losses at Everton's hands must really be rankling.
Until Everton finds a buyer and resolves the to-keep-or-not-to-keep situation with Goodison Park, I'm afraid Everton will remain a stepping stone for world class players. This might be playing on Moyes mind' too, as he ponders extending a contract that ends at the end of this season. Everton have an excellent youth development system and facilities, and a new owner that can bankroll a deeper squad will be the first step towards making a team that consistently contends for the top six, and a desirable destination for top players.

TBB: Season expectations? Do you think you can finish above the "scummier" half of Liverpool once more? How much pleasure did you have when you beat Liverpool in the League last season?

RBM: Beating the Red Shite is always a joy to the Blue half of the city. Fans would have gladly traded finishing ahead of them for beating them in the FA Cup semis. Some widely-held expectations include a top 6 finish, beating Liverpool at least once in the two derbies and strong Cup runs in both competitions. A Europa League spot and finishing ahead of Liverpool would be fantastic!

TBB: What do you expect from young Ross Barkley this year? He seems a real good talent. Great physical attributes coupled with great ability on the ball.

RBM: It appears Moyes has been quite unhappy with certain aspects of Barkley's game. There is a lot of hope for the boy to turn into Everton's next Rooney, but he needs more first team football. Moyes is planning to send the 18-yr old out on a four-month loan to a Championship club, much like David Beckham's spell at Preston where he actually played alongside Moyes.

TBB: How happy are you to have kept the big haired Belgian?

RBM: Fellaini really stepped up his play towards the latter half of the season. Along with loanees Steven Pienaar and Landon Donovan, he did a fantastic job manning the midfield and getting involved in the attack. There was a genuine concern that one of the big clubs would come knocking for his services this summer, but we are glad to still have him. You know he had a big influence on Mirallas' decision to come to Everton as well.

TBB: Finally, a prediction for the match? Do you think you can expose our defense once more, considering the many injuries we have (Once again)

RBM: The big fear for Everton has always been that we cannot keep up with the big teams if the game turns into an offensive shootout.. the 4-4 draw was an anomaly by our standards! While the United defence is faced with injury issues again, their midfield and attacking options are simply breathtaking and Everton will really struggle to see the ball.
I expect United to have about 60% of the possession, and a 2-2 scoreline, with both Jelavic and Rooney finding the back of the net.