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What they're saying: Sunderland owe Koeman a fate-slap; but can Everton teach us a lesson?

Waking with the sweats this morning, Roker Report's paranoia extends to Merseyside to find out what the Everton camp are saying about the visit of Sunderland this weekend. First they want our best players and now they want three points. But, have the 'people's club' become the Moshiri millionaire must-haves? Or can the Goodison lot teach us a lesson in our times of trouble?

Everton v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

The Manager

The hand of fate owes Sunderland a break this weekend as we face Ronald Koeman on his new patch. For five years the Everton boss has avoided a punt in the pants from the Mackems. We've only beaten him once in five attempts but the Dutchman's destiny is entwined with ours and the red-and-white gods must surely catch up with him tomorrow.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Ronald Koeman was once linked with the Sunderland job. That was in 2011 but Ellis Short opted for Martin O'Neill instead and the rest of course is history.

Sunderland then had one further chance to disrupt the Dutchman's rapid rise through English football. When Gus Poyet was mulling over a contract extension at the Stadium of Light in 2014, odds were slashed on him taking the vacant Southampton job. That was when Mauricio Pochettino left for Tottenham but in the end the Saints opted for Koeman instead. Five months later, Poyet would lead Sunderland into an eight goal thrashing at Southampton from which the Uruguayan never really recovered.

If you believe in such things, the hand of fate probably owes Sunderland a final chance to check the progress of Koeman this Saturday and bestow an unlikely three points on David Moyes, the man who Evertonians used to quite like but now despise.

Koeman previewed tomorrow's game by confirming Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas, who have all been struggling with injuries, should be fit to face Sunderland.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League
Lukaku tormented Sunderland in September
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The Dutchman also revealed he had cheered himself up during the break by watching the Sunderland v Southampton game and suggested David Moyes men were the better team in the first 45 minutes, despite being two goals down by half-time.

Koeman also said Sunderland's raid on Goodison Park for Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson made sense for all parties. He said both players had 'made the right decision' in swapping the bench at Everton for first team football at Sunderland.

The Players

While David Moyes and his boys were mooching around Central Park, Ronald Koeman and his Toffeemen were in Dubai for a little warm weather training. The Everton boss was defensive about his team's own break, suggesting if his side lose on Saturday then observers would be entitled to criticise the trip.

That's nothing of course compared to the unfolding PR disaster at Sunderland. With the players returning from a grin-filled mini-break in New York to find the club announcing up to forty staff are to be made redundant, if David Moyes' team don't perform at Goodison Park there will be more fall-out to follow on this one.

Leighton Baines is in line to chalk up his 300th appearance for Everton this weekend. The left-back began his career on Merseyside a decade ago when he turned down a move to Sunderland. Wigan Athletic rejected a bid of £5m from Roy Keane and again the rest is history as he opted for Everton instead.

Stoke City v Everton - Premier League
Leighton Baines and David Moyes discussing leisure wear in 2010
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

But the Goodison favourite has some kind words for his former boss, David Moyes - the man who signed him for Everton. Baines told

He was an important figure in my career and I'll be forever grateful to him for bringing me to the football club and giving me the opportunity to play here.

He was brilliant for us. He did extremely well with what he had available to him.

At just 32-years-old, Baines is still a bit young for a reunion with Moyes but if the Scot manages to keep hold of his job at the Stadium of Light until 2020, there's likely a better than evens chance the two men will be reunited by the time the Everton defender turns 35.

The Fans

If I may start by declaring myself as a big fan of Everton. The Merseyside outfit have always been of those outfits most of us would describe as a 'proper' football club.

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The blue lot have, by and large, always remained rooted in their community, though the Moshiri-millions brigade threaten to alter the Everton psyche. There seems to be a new bred arrogance in some quarters amongst the Goodison faithful and they've spent the last two transfer windows livid that the untold wealth of their new owner hasn't yet got them competing with the top four for the world's best players. They'll be expecting to pick off Pickford in the summer from under the noses of Manchester City and Arsenal.

But, Everton fan movements have always been well organised and impressive. The Blue Union supporters association is one outstanding example of how football people can come together and effect change at their club for a common good.

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The various groups attached to the club are proactive in holding their football team to account and were at the forefront of moves to encourage Bill Kenwright to move on from his stranglehold on Everton, as well as recent action against ticket prices and working with the Goodison hierarchy to implement a living wage throughout the football business and its suppliers.

There are lessons we can learn at Sunderland from all of this. At times, it seems to me that our supporter representatives have become benign stooges in our failings to hold the club's hierarchy and owner to account. I'm not advocating mass movements or protests but an active, vocal 'critical friend' often seems needed at the Stadium of Light.

There have been enormous issues which have and still go unchallenged on Wearside. But, of late the positive effect of supporter and club working hand in hand at Everton has been incredibly powerful with the manner in which the Blues have taken Sunderland supporting Bradley Lowery into their hearts.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The little lad is due to be mascot on Saturday. And for your continued support for this boy and his family from Blackhall - Everton and your supporters - we as Sunderland fans salute you.

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