By David Lynch
Dietmar Hamann has expressed his belief that Everton are closer to matching his former club Liverpool than they have been over the last decade.
The retired German starred for the Reds over a six-year period, helping them to lift the Uefa Cup, Champions League, two FA Cups and two League Cups, and featured in several Merseyside derby clashes.
And, ahead of the latest edition of the fixture on Sunday, Hamann opined that the game will be tighter than ever – but stopped short of claiming that the Toffees have surpassed their rivals.
He told Goal.com: “They’re probably as close as they’ve been over the last ten years. I wouldn’t say it’s a power shift as of yet but if they carry on as they’re doing and Liverpool haven’t really gone forward in the last couple of years then there could be.
“Liverpool have got to be on their toes and I think they’ve got the right man to do that but obviously they’re still two or three players short of being a top-four side. The early signs of Brendan Rodgers’ reign are good; I’m very impressed by what he’s done so far but the work David Moyes has done is also fantastic.
“It’s unbelievable what he has achieved there and the teams are as closely matched as they have been for a number of years.”
The former Germany international also revealed his favourite derby memory, which came in 2001 at Goodison Park.
He added: “We beat them at Goodison on a Monday or Tuesday night 3-2 when Gary McAllister scored with about three minutes to go.
“That was probably the best one because I don’t think we lost a game after that. It was the catalyst for us to do well because after that we ended up winning the Uefa Cup and the FA Cup and I’m not sure whether we would’ve done that if that goal hadn’t gone in.”
The 39-year-old went on to back the Reds to finish higher than their neighbours in the Premier League this year, adding: “I probably back Liverpool [to finish higher] because they’re just about to start picking up results. They’ve played against three top teams already so I’ll go with Liverpool.”
Hamann was speaking at the launch of Streetchance, a Barclays-led initiative which uses cricket to help disadvantaged children into sport, and he spoke glowingly of the work done by the organisation.
He said: “It’s a project by Barclays spaces for sport where kids get an opportunity to play sport – football, cricket etc – in a safe environment. It’s a great project to support because it tackles abusive social behaviour and youth criminality and the kids need to be given a chance to have these opportunities to play sport in a safe environment and it’s provided here.
“I’ve done things for the community while I was still playing and I do now because it’s something the players have got to support because it’s about the kids – they are the future.”
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