Since Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival on Merseyside in December the dynamic of Liverpool and Everton’s rivalry shifted instantaneously.
Right out of the gate in his first press conference Ancelotti buoyed up Blues fans as he took aim at the Reds: “The Evertonians know my record against Liverpool, they will be happy with this.
“[Napoli] beat Liverpool this season, it’s a big rivalry here and a big motivation for us.
“It feels good. Honestly, I have a really good relationship with Jurgen Klopp. It is always exciting, playing against them.
“Of course, I have beat them but they are not used to losing. It was a good day for me. I know how much Evertonians want to beat Liverpool. It’s not mission impossible, nothing is impossible in football.”
Though the Blues may not have the team to compete with Liverpool’s world and European champions just yet, they now have a manager who is up to the challenge.
Ancelotti is of course a world-renowned coach with a glimmering collection of titles, including three Champions League triumphs, to his name.
He has managed at a number of Europe’s elite clubs as well as having worked with a plethora of the best footballers to have played the game.
Jurgen Klopp has been open in admitting his own admiration for Ancelotti, and it is not hard to see where this respect for the Italian derives from.
Fans were given a glimpse into the “good relationship” Ancelotti referred to in his opening presser in another interview with the Blues boss, which emerged from Italian publication Corriere dello Sport this weekend.
In the interview, Ancelotti revealed he had spoken with Klopp during the suspension of play, and admitted the pair had both agreed that permitting 3,000 Atletico Madrid fans to travel to Liverpool earlier this month was “criminal”.
With the Spanish capital proving to be Spain’s own epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, the 60-year-old said: “The other day I heard [from] Klopp.
“He told me that making the game play in those conditions was a criminal act, I think he was right.”
Both managers, in agreement here, have led the charge of solidarity and encouragement during the coronavirus outbreak.
They have both, along with their respective clubs, been clear on how in this time of crisis football is rendered unimportant.
Ancelotti is widely credited with coining the famous saying: “Football is the most important of the least important things in the world.”
Klopp himself echoed this sentiment when he spoke earlier this month.
In an open letter to fans following the initial suspension of the Premier League on March 13, the German encouraged supporters who should have been watching the Reds end their 30-year wait for a top flight title.
He wrote: “First and foremost we have to do what we can to protect one another.
“In society, I mean. This should be the case all the time in life, but in this moment I think it matters more than ever.
“I’ve said before that football always seems the most important of the least important things, and today football and football matches really aren’t important at all.”
This week more messages of a similar ilk came out from both managers as they each praised the tireless work of the NHS as well as health workers around the globe who are on the front line leading the fight against this deadly virus.
At a time when the city of Liverpool and its people have needed reassurance in the past month, those two men have used their platforms to step up to the plate and provide it.
They are guardians at the gate to this great city and fans will always look to these leaders in times of victory or defeat. And now, in a time of global crisis, they are looking to them again.
The people of Liverpool have proven in the past they are willing to put any differences aside in order to stand together in unison when times get tough, and these two torch-baring men are leading by example.
The Merseyside derby won’t always be friendly; rival fans will still argue incessantly, that’s the beauty of football.
But right now with football on hiatus, Everton and Liverpool fans can still count on these two stalwarts to provide encouragement and support.
The rivalry will never cease, nor would fans want it to, but the mutual respect has never been as high and the similarity of tone in these messages from Klopp and Ancelotti are proving a tonic in these unprecedented times.
Just like when Ancelotti arrived and buoyed up the Blue half of Merseyside, now we are seeing a different type of shift in the rivalry dynamic – and both sets of fans should be welcoming this.
If football is the most important of the least important things in life, then we all know where that places these two men in the hearts and minds of Liverpool and Everton supporters.