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PHIL NEVILLE EXCLUSIVE: England? Picking me would be a backward step

04 Dec 2010 14:19:16

PHIL NEVILLE EXCLUSIVE: England? Picking me would be a backward step

EXCLUSIVE It has been a bleak week on Merseyside but the icy blasts sweeping Everton's Finch Farm training base have had nothing to do with the weather. Smarting from a 4-1 home defeat by West Bromwich Albion, David Moyes has reminded his players in no uncertain terms they have a duty to get their season moving forward again but that, clearly, is easier said than done - today Everton face a trip to Chelsea. If Moyes has pulled no punches, neither has his captain. Injury meant Phil Neville watched the West Brom calamity unfold from a seat in the stands, and the team in blue who collapsed so spectacularly bore no similarity to the Everton he has seen develop over the last five years. Looking ahead: Phil Neville believes England should look at younger players 'It just wasn't good enough,' said Neville, who is fit to return this afternoon. 'When you think of Everton, you think of determination, spirit, togetherness, energy. We have moved on in terms of the way we play but we must never move away from the qualities that have made us so special.' Big things were expected from Everton in the Barclays Premier League this year but, so far, they have been a huge disappointment and now travel to Stamford Bridge just two points above the relegation zone. Moyes has taken their travails as a personal affront. 'Defeats hurt him more now than ever because of the expectation,' said Neville between sips of his favourite tipple - a cup of tea. 'When I joined in August 2005, even though we had just qualified for the Champions League there was a sense we were still underdogs. Now there is expectation. The manager has got us to a level where everyone thinks we are going to win. But with expectation comes pressure. When you don't deliver there is even more disappointment. That's what he is feeling now.' So is Neville. At 33 he might be heading towards the final stages of his playing career but his enthusiasm remains as voracious as it was when he climbed the ranks at Manchester United to win six league titles. Shake on it: Neville with Everton boss David Moyes That approach means he is now one of the most respected members of his profession. A keen student of the game - he immerses himself in sports psychology books and has just finished the autobiography of Lou Holtz, a retired American football coach and now motivational speaker - it is not difficult to envisage this engaging character one day becoming a manager. For the moment, though, that can wait. Everton's fortunes need reviving first. NEVILLE ON...BEING EVERTON CAPTAIN I say to the manager all the time that I don't like statements about the team missing me when I haven't played. I've told him to make someone else captain. I spoke to him about it two weeks ago. 'I firmly believe Phil Jagielka should be the next Everton captain. he is an England player, he's in the top three defenders in the country. This is not me relinquishing things but there has to be a progression at a club with the younger players coming through. 'If it was for the good of the team, there would be no problem. I've been a team player all my life. If it made the team better then, yes, I would relinquish the captaincy.' ...CLAIMS THAT EVERTON ARE HAPPY IN MID-TABLE No. Not at all. Your team mirrors the performance of your manager. David Moyes has come so far that there is no way he is going to accept us languishing in mid-table. We finished eighth last season, not in the European places. We got so many plaudits but nobody in the squad could understand why. We'd failed. That's why finishing in mid-table again would not be good enough. The club have come on so much. We've moved on from kicking a long ball forward. That's where we were two-and-a-half to three years ago. Back then we wanted to be at the stage where we are all comfortable on the ball and we got there. We can't forget what we are, though. ...SUBDUING GARETH BALE Gareth has been the player of the season but when we come up against the best players at Everton, like (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Robin) Van Persie, (Wayne) Rooney, (Fernando) Torres, you know you are never going to be left alone. The day I played against Gareth, I probably had one or two one-against-ones. Under control: Neville was hugely impressive against Tottenham If you can't defend those situations in 90 minutes - two short passages of play - you shouldn't be anywhere near the team. When I was at United, Marc Overmars used to cause me nightmares. But as you get older, experience tells you these players are only human. ...AND THE PRAISE HE RECEIVED I was flabbergasted. I stayed in London the day after and had some time with my family and friends. I'd been doing this and that, then got a chance to read the papers. I couldn't believe the quotes. I was just thinking, 'Let's get into the real world'. ...BEING MORE TWEETED THAN BARACK OBAMA I got a call from my sister-in-law, Amanda, and she told me Twitter had gone wild. I thought she was taking the mickey. I logged on, started searching and there it was. No joke: Neville was once the subject of more tweets than Barack Obamba I thought it was laughable. Landon Donovan told me about Barack Obama. Staggering. The gaffer was asked about it but, to be honest, he doesn't even know what Twitter is. He thought I was making money out of something. At Everton, we're not allowed to be on Twitter so I half got away with it. Saying that, someone said they'd got it wrong and the 'i' should have been an 'a'! ...ADDING TO HIS 59 ENGLAND CAPS A few people told me I had a chance for the France game. As an England fan, after the World Cup, I wanted the manager to go down the youth route. Let's build a team for the next major tournament. To pick me would be a backward step. If it was a one-off, a qualifier where they needed someone with experience to do a job, I'd be there in a shot. But to pick me for a friendly? If I was manager, I wouldn't do it. ...A REUNION WITH DAVID BECKHAM It would have been great had we been able to sign him. The effect a player like Becks would have on the team would be immense. Just to see him train every day would set an unbelievable example. ...HIS LOVE FOR FOOTBALL AND SETTING AN EXAMPLE I'm quite robotic, really. I've got a routine I stick to every day. I go to bed early, I do my warm-ups, warm-downs, I eat everything I'm supposed to. I do everything to maximise my chances of playing at the highest level for as long as possible. Football is my life. I watch between 10 and 15 games a week. I love German football, Spanish, Dutch. Mr Football: Neville loves watching the game and takes in as many matches as he possibly can a week People used to tell me when I was younger I should get a hobby. I tried different things -music, learning a language, all that type of stuff. But it was never for me. I didn't want to learn to play the guitar; I didn't want to get into photography. I didn't want to be out on the club scene. I'll have the odd game of golf but I just wanted to be a footballer. I've got room in my life for my family and football. That's it.  Ancelotti says sticky Toffees clash is Chelsea's biggest game of the seasonLiverpool and Everton should move in together, says former chief BroughtonFellaini vows wounded Everton will take anger out on champions ChelseaEVERTON FC


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