THE “dream start” is one of football’s many cliches, and it applied last Sunday when Everton beat Liverpool 2-1. It was the club’s first FA WSL win of the season in nine attempts and the side’s first game under the new management team of Willie Kirk and Chris Roberts.

Kirk’s departure from Manchester United, where he was assistant to Casey Stoney, was only officially announced the previous day. The switch to Everton, just a matter of months after he had joined Manchester United, was a surprise, especially given the latter’s strong start to the season. They lead the Championship by three points with a game in hand.

Everton, in the league above, were bottom when Kirk and Roberts joined. The previous manager, Andy Spence, was sacked on November 7, so there was a sense that matters were drifting until Kirk was appointed. The win over Liverpool immediately lifted Everton above Yeovil and Brighton in the table.

“We didn’t know beforehand that it had been four-and-a-half years since we’d beaten Liverpool,” Kirk said. “And almost six-and-a-half since we beat them in the league, so we didn’t realise how big a win it was.

“A lot of people were surprised I made the move. Man United is such a massive institution – but people are forgetting how big a club Everton is. We’ve seen that since we came in, especially in the last few days. The working environment is much better than we expected.”

Although the team play their home games at Southport, they train at the same Finch Farm facility as the Everton men’s squad. As with Manchester City, there are separate wings, but the training pitches are separated by what Kirk describes as a pitching wedge distance.

The new manager couldn’t have scripted a quirkier set of fixtures ahead of the winter break. Although a second Merseyside derby against Liverpool, this time in the Continental Cup, was called off on Wednesday night due to a waterlogged pitch, it will be played next Sunday.

Today’s league opponents are Bristol City, the club Kirk left at the end of last season to eventually join Man United, while Roberts departed in September.

And, on Thursday, Everton have another Continental Cup tie – against Manchester United.

Kirk says he is keen to progress in both domestic cup competitions – Everton reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup last season – rather than concentrate solely on the league.

Although the former Hibernian head coach says Yeovil have improved this season and are scoring more goals, they are a club Everton would expect to finish ahead of in the table. He also feels his new side should get the better of Brighton, who have former England manager Hope Powell at the helm.

“Brighton have a really big budget and obviously a high profile manager,” Kirk said. “But it's not a squad I envy, and I think they're under-achieving in terms of budget. We will be disappointed if we don't finish above them.”

Reserve goalkeeper Becky Flaherty, who was formerly with Aberdeen and Liverpool, is in the Everton squad, while Scotland under-17 forward Sadie Mitchell is with the under-20s. Kirk says he may sign more players in the January window, but is content with his current squad, of whom the most influential are Welsh midfielder Angharad James (formerly with him at Bristol), England's Gabby George and Simone Magill of Northern Ireland.

The final word in this Friends Reunited tale goes to Roberts, another former Hibs head coach.

“I needed the break, but I'm glad to be back in football now,” he says. “It's exciting. There is a togetherness at the club and it has surpassed the expectations I had coming in.”