Salford City mark another step in our history on Wednesday when we travel to Goodison Park to face Everton in Round Two of the Carabao Cup.
After beating Rotherham United on penalties in Round One just over a week ago, The Ammies were handed this plum tie which will be live on Sky Sports.
Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees will be the highest ranked opponent we have ever faced, the first top flight Club we will have played, in our first Round Two appearance, and there are no illusions about progression to the next round.
It is an opportunity for Salford to ‘enjoy’ and ‘express’ themselves though says Graham Alexander, something that isn’t often possible to do with the high ambitions the Club aspire to in the league pyramid.
“It’s a massive tie in the size of the Club we’re going to play, the venue, the history of Everton is so famous and prestigious, so from that point of view it’s a great tie for us because there’s absolutely zero pressure on us and the players to go there and win because the gap in the level that they play at compared to us is massive.
“But we’ve got to go there and enjoy ourselves, and actually hold our heads high, show pride in our work, show that we are good players and that we are a good team.
“That’s the thing about this game, I know there’s no pressure on us but I know that in ourselves we put pressure on ourselves to perform well all of the time including in training and any game we play, so from that side of it the players have got nothing to lose except to go out there and show what good footballers they are.
“We know it’s a massive task for us to go and get a result, but we go there with belief in the way that we play, what we have in our own changing room and take the game on, but we have to look forward to it, it will probably be one of the only times this season that we’ll be the underdogs so we have to enjoy that status.
“It’s a case of going there and expressing yourself, that’s all I want the players to do, it’s to not go there and get fixated on a result, and just be fixated on a performance; go and show that you can be confident against any opponent, that you’re good on the ball, that you’re fit, you can take on tactical instruction, and that’s the same as every game really.
“I know because I’ve been there myself as a lower league player playing against higher opposition, if you don’t focus on yourself and play with a bit of freedom then you don’t maximise what you do and you come off the pitch with regret, and there’s no worse feeling than coming off the pitch with regret and that’s all I want the players to do, to come off the pitch on Wednesday with zero regrets, regardless of what’s gone on.”
The Blue club on Merseyside are about as established as a top flight Club can be having competed in 117 seasons, the most out of every club in the country, so this really is a significant match-up for The Ammies, ourselves in just our second EFL season.
They can boast nine First Division titles and five FA Cups, although their best League Cup performance is being runners-up in 1976-77 to Aston Villa, and 1983-84 to Liverpool. Last season they finished 12th in the Premier League, and reached the Quarter-Finals of the League Cup, losing on penalties to Leicester City. Salford winger Bruno Andrade scored for Lincoln City at this stage last season when The Imps hosted The Toffees, losing 2-4.
As for the man in charge, the list of major European league honours Ancelotti has won is quite extensive and includes Serie A, the Premier League, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga; the Champions League and the UEFA Super Cup; and the FIFA Club World Cup amongst others.
HOW TO FOLLOW
As a Sky Sports pick, we will not be providing a live video stream for this game.
However there will be audio commentary available from 20:10, live from Goodison Park. Head over to our Streaming Site where you will find commentary match passes available for £2.50. This game is included for supporters who have a monthly commentary pass; they are available to purchase for £4.49/month and include all league and cup games.
Major updates will be available on Twitter throughout the game, while BBC Radio 5Live and TalkSPORT will also be providing coverage.