everton recovery

Neville encouraged by response

August 21, 2009

Everton captain Phil Neville believes the players have regained a measure of self respect following their thrashing by Arsenal last weekend.

Two goals each from Jack Rodwell and Louis Saha ensured a comfortable 4-0 victory against Sigma Olomouc in the Europa League play-off first leg last night.

The result went some way to easing the stress that had built up at Goodison Park ahead of the game.

Beaten 6-1 by the Gunners last weekend, they went into last night's match without central defender Joleon Lescott.

He was dropped by manager David Moyes for a bad attitude after Manchester City had two bids for his services rejected.

Neville was pleased with the way the players responded after a difficult few days.

He said: ``There is a long way to go but it was more like an Everton performance. The manager asked for a reaction and put us under pressure. He told us in no uncertain terms we had not been good enough and standards at the club were higher than Saturday.

``We got back to basics and were hard to beat. We had to be a team and we were. But we can still improve and still get better.

``The pleasing thing near the end was that there was a bit of a swagger to our play. Our opponents were no mugs and for the first 20 minutes we were a bit nervous.

``But once we scored the first goal we controlled the game and it puts us in a great position to progress to the next stage.''

Neville admits he would like Lescott's situation to be resolved one way or the other.

He said: ``As captain, we probably just want an end to the saga. Hopefully we now move on.

``We produced a good performance in this game - it is not a time for saying who is right or wrong. It is just a night to play football, that is what we are paid to do.

``Whatever happens away from the team, that is up to the manager. The speculation is just a side-show.''

Rodwell, 18, could retain his place in the side to face Burnley on Sunday at Turf Moor after his stunning brace.

In the process he became the youngest scorer in Europe for Everton, and Neville and Moyes both believe the midfielder has a bright future.

Neville said: ``Jack has tremendous ability and was the best player on the pitch. He showed confidence and no fear.

``That is what you want from young players and hopefully he can keep progressing at Everton.''

Moyes added: ``He is a good boy, a good listener, who wants to improve. He is dedicated and we think he has a lot of potential.''

Despite the impact on their schedule, the Scot is keen to make progress in Europe.

``There could be big games and I want to be involved but our squad depth is a concern,'' he added.