I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Everton defender and England international Phil Neville ahead of the Everton v Liverpool Merseyside derby on Sunday. Everton are the 6/4 favourites with Ladbrokes on Sunday for only the second time since 2004. Everton have only been favourites for three of the last 24 league meetings. Neville’s a great chap, very well spoken and serves as a wonderful ambassador for the game. I seized this opportunity and asked him questions about Everton, the upcoming Merseyside derby, and some of the most memorable moments of his career.
Of the new signings at Everton, who has impressed you the most?
I think all the new signings are great, but I feel Kevin Mirallas has made the biggest impact. He’s part of this new, dangerous Belgian international team and he gives Everton a new element – pace and the ability to beat his man.
Which of the younger players at Everton do you feel could make a big impact when they’re older?
I’d have to say Ross Barkley is a real stand out for me, he’s currently on loan at Sheffield Wednesday. There’s also Chris Long, who scored for the England U18’s recently.
How are you feeling ahead of the Merseyside derby this weekend?
Well, it’s our first time as favourites since I’ve been at Everton, so that’s good for confidence. But form goes out of the window – the occasion is so massive and the atmosphere can be intimidating. The side with the most discipline and quality will come out victors on Sunday.
Who will provide the biggest threat for Everton on Sunday?
For me, Nikica Jelavic, with his fantastic goalscoring record, will be our key man up front. Very few games end 1-0 these days, so you need a prolific goalscorer up front to bag as many as goals as possible.
Similarly, who do you feel provides the biggest threat for Liverpool?
I’d have to say Steven Gerrard – he always performs well in these derbies. He’s the biggest danger, and if he plays well, Liverpool play well.
What do you think of the new St. George’s Park facilities?
I’ve been a couple of times now, and trust me, I’ve been to training facilities all over the world, and I think it’s the best facility in world football – the pitches are fantastic, the rehabilitation centre for players is first class.
You’ve played in many positions in your career, but which would you say is your favourite?
I would go with right-back as my most comfortable position, but I’ve always loved the challenge of playing in a variety of positions – whether that be centre-back, left-back, on the wings, in the centre of the park. I think it’s part of the reason I’m still playing, as I’ve always had confidence in being versatile.
Who is the most difficult forward you’ve ever played against?
Ruud Gullit was a nightmare to play against – he’s one of those players where you simply don’t feel good enough to play against him. Another tricky forward was Romario, he was just so quick and clever.
There has been a lot of speculation and rumours over the last few seasons linking David Moyes with a move to Old Trafford – do you feel he could fill Sir Alex Ferguson’s shoes?
To be honest I still see Fergie at Manchester United for years to come – but Moyes certainly has the qualities to be manager at Old Trafford. However, I want him to stay at Everton for as long as possible.
What is it that makes David Moyes such a great manager?
I think it’s his hunger, work ethic and determination. He demands the best from his players every single day. But he’s also very honest with his players, and will be straight with you if there are issues to be sorted.
How do you feel about the recent issues with players deciding not to wear the ‘Kick It Out’ campaign shirts?
These issues always need time to work out, and I think the events of the last week or so have provided the jolt needed to unify football once again. Footballers have a lot of power, and it’s up to us to send out the right message.
Stay tuned to FootballFanCast, where we’ll be talking to more personalities from the beautiful game over the coming weeks.
Super Money Back Sunday – If Manchester United beat Chelsea today, we’ll refund all losing first goalscorer, scorecast and correct score stakes as a FREE bet! Phil Neville is a best price of 22/1 to score at any time against Liverpool. T & C at ladbrokes.com/football