As David Moyes prepared for his 21st Merseyside derby he said it was now a contest sharply divided by money. The Everton manager argued it was unlikely that the two sides would compete on an equal financial footing in the future.
"It would be difficult because Liverpool have got a great brand," he said. "On the pitch, we have not been that far apart in recent years. But the amounts Liverpool have had to spend have been considerable. Maybe they have not spent as much as Manchester City or Chelsea but I bet it is as much as anybody else. They can't argue they've not had it."
In terms of net spending, Everton v Liverpool is now one of the most unequal of the great derbies. Since coming to Goodison Park in March 2002, Moyes has spent an estimated £25.8m more than he has received in transfer fees – less than Kenny Dalglish has spent in eight months at Anfield. Liverpool's net outlay in that time has been £110.7m.
The last time Liverpool played at Goodison Park almost 12 months ago, then managed by Roy Hodgson, they were beaten comfortably and it is maybe no coincidence that Hodgson was the one Liverpool manager to operate under the same constraints as Moyes. His transfer dealings made a profit of around £12m for the club. "I felt we were getting closer to Liverpool then," said Moyes. "I thought we had a good team last year and the disappointment was that we didn't do better, especially at the start. We were edging closer. This time last year at Liverpool people were talking about their banks wanting this and that but it changed very quickly for them."
Not since the mid-1990s, when Everton under Joe Royle attempted to sign Stan Collymore and paid £5m for Andrei Kanchelskis, have they matched Liverpool's firepower in the transfer market. Only rarely, as with Momo Sissoko and Charlie Adam, have the two clubs competed for the same player. However, it could be argued that Everton squandered their greatest opportunity to draw level financially when, having broken into the top four in 2005, they lost their Champions League qualifier to Villarreal.
"Would making it into the Champions League have cracked it?" said Moyes. "Possibly, but I think all the clubs who have really made it have had real financial backing as well [as the Champions League money]. But it would certainly have helped."