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In Defence of Phil Neville…
by Ed Bottomley

It’s really no surprise that Andy Van der Meyde has it in for Phil Neville. After all, they are complete opposites. Whereas Van der Meyde frittered away his undoubted talent, Neville worked at his game like a diligent boy scout collecting tinder and kindling for a fire. Tending to it, getting the most out of it.

“Look at my Boy Scout merit badges everyone! Camping, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communication, Cooking, Emergency Preparedness!”

Those badges are why Moyes loved him, and why others hated him. He’s a suck up without shame, the kind of twerp who would boast about being assistant manager. 

“No Phil. You’re assistant TO the manager.”

There’s a place in football for the prefects of this world, the teachers’ pets, the solid dependable trustworthy types. At least to a point. I wouldn’t fancy a team of 11 Pip Nevilles..But I’d definitely prefer it to a team of 11 Andy Van der Meyde’s.

This is from our match report of an anodyne 0-0 draw with Southampton in 2013:

It was telling too that in the last ten minutes or so it was Southampton who pushed forward and Everton who assumed the role of visitors holding out for a point. Throughout all this one figure stood resolute; timing his tackles to perfection, intercepting, clearing, exhorting. A point isn’t the birthday present Phil Neville would have wanted, but he more than any other outfield player earned it.

Seamus Coleman freely admits that one of the major influences on him in his fledgling Everton career was Phil Neville who, as well as being a friend, was also a fierce critic and force for constant improvement.

Let’s not rewrite history. Phil Neville was a good player to have at Everton.  What about his “season changing” reducer on Cristiano Ronaldo a few years back, or when he clattered Ashley Cole and set up a goal against Chelsea? Whereas Ashley Cole politely asked “may I” with his slide tackle, Neville’s screamed “F*CK OFF”.  Phil Neville set the tone for an often rudderless team. Not fashionable in the least, but vital. That last sentence may make you cringe, but it’s true. 

What about his 240 games for Everton? 

Of course, those tweets from Phil reveal the kind of chauvinist twat who should be nowhere near managing the England Women’s Team. The internal decor of his mansions (think Trump’s abodes but with less taste) has made him a laughing stock. And he was always always a red at heart. At Goodison his loyalty was to himself, to his career, and he never gave less than 100%. Yes, he was never cool as a blue. But he was solid, and criticism of players like him seems so ridiculous when we’ve been moaning about our soft underbelly, how we’re too “nice” for ages. 

Van der Meyde hates people like Phil Neville, because when you look at his career, the Mancunian twerp made something out of nothing. Shandy Andy did the exact opposite. 

Written by Ed Bottomley

Everton fan exiled in Michigan. Duncan Ferguson obsessive, history buff, optimist. Follow me on Twitter @DixiesSixty

2 Comments

Yeah, no.

Phil Neville was an idiot, he was frankly appalling, and his time at Everton – as captain no less – is one I’d prefer to forget.

Awful. AWFUL player.

by Mack on Nov 2, 2018 at 4:42 pm


Lot of respect for Phil Neville. Much better player than he was ever given credit for. Remember the left-footed curler against West Brom and the long range goal at Wolves? Undoubted teacher’s pet but solidity and reliability are good qualities to possess. Never a hero or even a favourite – but decent. And once superbly defused a row which was developing between myself and Tim Cahill when I was once “ordered to explain myself” in front of the 1st team squad in the dressing room!

by David Prentice on Nov 2, 2018 at 5:55 pm


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