One of the differences between American professional sports and English soccer is that, while American teams try never publicly to disrespect an opponent, English soccer managers and players have no qualms about providing “locker room fodder.” In fact, in England it’s customary to diss one’s rivals, especially during the run-up to big matches. This difference may run contrary to certain national stereotypes, but there it is.
Last year, for example, Liverpool’s head man Rafa Benitez called Everton “a small club.” And now, with another Merseyside derby approaching, Everton defender Alan Stubbs, the truest of blues, has decided to “have a pop” at Benitez. Responding to the usual question of whether the derby means as much to Liverpool as it does to Everton (to which the correct response is “no”), Stubbs offered this assessment:
Of course the derby means as much to Liverpool as it does to Everton. If it doesn’t, they have a big old problem. If you’re not really that bothered about winning against your local rivals, maybe you should be looking at yourself. We don’t see ourselves as a small club, not at all. If they feel they are that much bigger than us, they should have been getting better results. Like winning the league.
When you spend that much money,