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Everton FC skipper Phil Neville wants a Europe return
Published : 27 Feb 2010 07:00:00
Phil Neville celebrates at Wembley 460 EVERTON may be sick of the sight of Lisbon, but there was no quick getaway for them on Thursday night. An overnight stay in the Portuguese capital before flying straight into London yesterday ensured there was plenty of time to stew on their miserable exit from the Europa League. Tottenham's players may have been hampered by a virus this week, but Everton's must feel like they have been hit with a sledgehammer. How could a side which had stunned Premier League title contenders Chelsea and Manchester United in recent weeks perform so abjectly against a Sporting side in the midst of a crisis and desperately short of confidence? Wasteful in possession, vulnerable at the back and toothless going forward, it was a world away from the performance the Blues served up against United at Goodison five days earlier. Caution and negativity replaced adventure and attacking verve. With the tie on a knife edge it was a risky game plan and, in the end, they got exactly what they deserved. 'We were not positive enough,' admitted Mikel Arteta. 'We should have gone at them more. We tried to defend too deep and we never got a grip on the game.' Amidst the wreckage, Phil Neville has urged his team-mates to look forward, rather than back. The time for inquests has been and gone. The skipper knows all that pain and frustration must now be channeled into trying to ensure European football is on the agenda for the Blues once again next season. Of course it's a tough ask. Eighth-placed Everton have 12 league games remaining to close the gap on Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa, who are all currently fighting it out for fourth spot.