YOU don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. So says Sean Connery, as tough-talking prohibition cop Jim Malone in classic gangster flick The Untouchables.
This afternoon, another no-nonsense enforcer from north of the border is doing just that.
By his own admission, David Moyes wades into football’s equivalent of that sticky situation, as he takes his Everton side to the home of the richest football club on the planet.
Except, for all their opponent’s riches and abundance of star players, the Toffees have a fearsome record at Manchester City’s stadium which could provide a genuine psychological edge against one half of the Premier League’s pace-setting city.
“This is like going into a gunfight and I have got a knife so I am going to have to do the best I can,” says Moyes ahead of the televised 12.45pm kick-off.
“We’ll need to be the best knife fighters. It could be the wrong terminology to use in this world, but you take my point. We need to do everything perfectly.
“We have to find a way of stopping Man City. Let’s not kid ourselves and say we are going to go there and completely outplay them because that is why you pay £30m for a player – if you have that player then you tell him to go out and create.
“At this moment in time we don’t have that so our job is to find ways of getting the job done.
“It was the same last year and we won the games.
“It was the same in that we needed to go there and find a way of stopping them doing what they do but at the same time also playing our own stuff.
“I thought they were better last year on the year before and this year they are better again.”
Moyes hopes City boss Roberto Mancini could have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich, which the Italian has already labelled a must-win.
“The one thing they haven’t come up against is coping with the level of the Champions League and then having to play Premier League games,” he says.
“That’s why they’ve bought so many good players in. We might find he changes his squad for the game against us, because I think Bayern Munich becomes an important game for them.
“I know that their expectations will be to get out of the group at least, so the Bayern game will certainly be in their mind.”
Although that potential distraction aside, Everton’s manager is not kidding himself at the size of the task at hand, as he bids to stretch his team’s unbeaten run to six games.
“They played really well in the games against us last season but we got the results,” he says. “We got the goals at their place, and then got a player sent off as well.
“But they played some good football. They’ve upped the quality even more now. They’ve added even better players. Dzeko has got himself in real goalscoring form, they’ve brought in Aguero who has started the Premier League really well, and they’ve got Nasri who was probably Arsenal’s best player last season.
“They’ve strengthened to make themselves better.”
Moyes has had some tough decisions to make over recent weeks, in dropping club captain Phil Neville and dealing with Louis Saha’s outburst before the victory over Wigan.
And although, true to form, he has not shirked the tough calls, the Blues boss denies he has gone back to his toughest basics.
“We can’t afford to carry anyone,” he says. “We’ve got a big job on to win the games. I can’t let anyone get away with it. What I tend to find is whoever I don’t play, people think he should be playing.
“Then the minute I put him in, people say the other one should be playing.
“That happens. We’ve probably got 13 or 14 players who we could throw a blanket over and say whoever you play, you might get roughly the same. It’s not going to be much better than the other one.
“But I only make the decision because I feel they’re right, not to try and be harder.
“If everybody wanted to hear my reasons for every choice they could sit in my office and spend three hours every day with me looking at that magnetic board, going goggle eyed and making my decisions on why him, and why that. That’s what I do.
“It’s not because someone tweeted.
“If I don’t think they’re playing well enough, I generally won’t play them.
“I hope I’ve never changed, even from my Preston days when I’ve said I’ve since mellowed. I think it’s just me doing what I think’s right.”