The mere thought is enough to bring a smile to Tom Davies’ face.
Old Trafford. 75,000 fans. The TV cameras, the world watching.
And, just maybe, an Everton victory.
“It’d be nice, eh?” the midfielder tells Goal as he sits down for an exclusive interview ahead of Sunday’s game. All eyes will be on the home side, of course, and the latest episode of 'The Jose Mourinho Show', but Davies insists Everton are ready to play a starring role this weekend.
Their record away to Manchester United is a poor one. Having won there in the first week of the Premier League in 1992, they have tasted victory just once since, Bryan Oviedo’s goal defeating a United side suffering under David Moyes almost five years ago.
Comparisons between Moyes and Mourinho have been growing of late. Old Trafford has not been a happy place. United head into Sunday’s game 10th in the Premier League table, a point and two places below Everton. They have won just one of their last seven games in all competitions.
A chance, then, for Marco Silva’s men to add to their misery? Davies, who is desperate to get the nod in midfield, believes so.
“It’s a very good chance for us to get a result,” he says. “They’re in a bit of a sticky situation and we have to try and take advantage of that and make life hard for them.
“They’re not doing so well, and we’ve come off the back of three wins so our confidence is very high. We’re going there looking to get the three points.”
And to enjoy it, too?
“Of course!” Davies smiles. “I love playing there. The games I’ve played there, we haven’t got the results. But I love the stadium and I love playing there. Fingers crossed I’ll get the chance.”
Davies is sat on a balcony overlooking one of the indoor pitches at USM Finch Farm, Everton’s training ground. Below, participants from Everton in the Community’s ‘Imagine Your Goals’ programme are enjoying a series of workshops with members of Silva’s first-team squad.
Davies, along with Leighton Baines, Cenk Tosun and Morgan Schneiderlin, has just taken part in a discussion on mental health, comparing real-life scenarios with footballing ones. Later, after an impromptu kickabout, all players will sign a pledge of support for the club’s award-winning charity.
“It was an eye-opener for me, to be honest,” says the 20-year-old, who says football must do more to encourage those with mental health issues to speak up and to seek assistance.
“People need to start recognising that it’s not a problem,” he says. “It’s something that we can deal with.
“Football can instil that type of environment at times, where you don’t want to show any sign of weakness. I know I’ve always been like that myself. You try to deal with things as they go.
“But at the same time, it doesn’t have to be seen as a weakness. I know I have people in the team who I can go to if I’m struggling. Even the [young] lads I came through with, we can speak about these things and to me that’s only a good thing. The awareness is growing.”
Davies smiles as he ponders the influence social media can have on players – “I don’t check my mentions,” he maintains, “but I see why it could be a problem if you’re that type of person.” – and is candid when discussing his own ups and downs.
He accepts that he is, in many ways, starting again after a difficult 12 months. He, as much as anybody, suffered from Everton’s chaotic 2017-18 campaign, when none of Ronald Koeman, David Unsworth nor Sam Allardyce were able to get the club pulling together. Goodison Park can be a cauldron at its best, but for the last year it has been a mix of anger, apathy and frustration. Even a local lad, a boyhood fan such as Davies has suffered.
“I learned a lot,” he says. “The last year was difficult, and I didn’t get much of a kick to be honest. There were a lot of changes and it never seemed like I could get my performances going, or get settled into a routine.
“I found it tough, but I’ve come through it and definitely learned from it. This year I’m re-focused and looking to kick on again."
He is asked if his extraordinary start at Everton – who could forget him scything through Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City to score his first Premier League goal at Goodison? – may have made life a little more difficult for him, setting standards that were impossible to maintain.
“Possibly, yeah,” he replies. “I set the bar so high and people want you to reach that again straight away. It was difficult for me to do that last season, but I feel like I’m getting back to it now.”
Silva’s influence, clearly, has been a positive one. The Portuguese took him aside for a long, frank chat shortly after his appointment, detailing the areas he needs to improve, and the things he needs to do more of. He would, he was told, be a big part of the club’s future if he performed.
Perhaps more importantly, the manager has backed up his words with actions. When Everton, minus a host of senior players, took on Rotherham United in the Carabao Cup in September, it was Davies who was handed the captain’s armband – the youngest skipper in the Blues’ 140-year history.
“It was a bit mad, really,” he smiles. “I didn’t find out until we got into the changing room.
“I’d been captain in pre-season against Porto when Ashley Williams went off, so I did kind of have a thought that maybe if it was up for grabs then I’d be one of the players in the hat. But I didn’t find out until just before kick-off.
“Obviously playing with Kieran [Dowell], Dom [Calvert-Lewin], Jonjoe [Kenny], all the lads I’ve come through the academy with, and I’m there to be the captain of the side, it was unbelievable.
Proud, too, to learn around the same time that he had been named on Tuttosport’s ‘Golden Boy’ shortlist, alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Christian Pulisic and Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, who like Davies was born and raised in West Derby.
“It was a surprise, but a great achievement for me,” Davies says. “But I just want to continue on. It’s good to be named on something like that, but you can always do better.”
On Alexander-Arnold, his midfield partner at England youth level, he adds: “I see him out and about and we speak.
“He’s doing brilliantly, credit to him. He’s another one you can look to. You see him doing so well and you think ‘why can’t I?’ I can take a lot from him in that regard.”
As for himself, there are clear ambitions. First and foremost, to make himself a regular under Silva – he was an unused substitute last weekend against Crystal Palace - and from there, who knows? England, maybe? Helping Everton end their 23-year wait for a trophy perhaps?
“Why not?” he says. “My ambition with Everton has always been to win something, that hasn’t changed.
“And as a kid I always wanted to play for England - to reach that level is something everyone dreams of and I am no different. I’m just working hard and waiting for my opportunity. All I can do is what I’m doing here, and hopefully one day I’ll get that shout. Then it’s up to me to take it.”