Club Focus – Everton – Toffees captain Neville going nowhere despite Spurs’ unsettling approach

The idea of Phil Neville moving to Tottenham Hotspur during the January transfer window always seemed a fanciful one, even before David Moyes confirmed the Everton captain would not be leaving Goodison Park this month.

Given life by a report in the Daily Mail and then fanned by Harry Redknapp on Sky Sports News, the rumour suggested the Toffees would be willing to part with their first-choice right-back and influential skipper for £1.5m. Moyes confirmed there were brief discussions both in December and when the clubs met earlier this month but Spurs’ advances were quickly rebuffed. That the move was discussed and soon rejected by Everton twice, once last year, does beg a couple of questions. First, how the Mail picked up on the story now, and, second, why Redknapp chose to ignore Everton’s rejection when he spoke to Sky Sports News on Tuesday morning – he only noted that a move for Neville would be “difficult”, rather than the impossibility Moyes’ statement suggests. Only the newspaper and the Tottenham manager himself will know the answers, but it is much easier to understand why Redknapp is so desirous of Neville.

Neville is not the most technically gifted of players – although his ability should never be underplayed – but whatever he lacks in skill he more than compensates for in qualities that are much harder to define, but equally as tough to develop. No amount of coaching can teach the leadership that has seen Neville captain Everton permanently and Manchester United and England temporarily, or replace the experience of over 600 career games and more than 50 international caps, and the responsibility of being the father of a daughter with cerebral palsy, and ambassador and patron of a children’s charity and children’s hospital. Those qualities are innate, characteristics that are bigger than football and more important than Neville’s ability to man mark opposing left wingers. Off the field, the younger Neville symbolises what an experienced professional footballer should be. Indeed, Liverpool Echo journalist Greg O’Keefe summed Neville up by saying: “He leads by example in every aspect – the epitome of a club captain from someone imbued with a sense of the role…Neville is a spokesman, an ambassador, a leader.

Redknapp – already with a stable of right-backs, including Alan Hutton, Vedran Corluka and Kyles Naughton and Walker – also has a number of young players who would benefit from Neville’s 17 years as a Premier League player. The dynamic forward play of Aaron Lennon would particularly reap rewards with the solid Neville stationed behind him, much as Seamus Coleman has on Everton’s own right wing. On the left, Gareth Bale has twice been confounded by Neville this season and coming up against the 33-year-old regularly in training, working closely with his obstructer, would iron out the kinks that still remain in the Welshman’s game. Unfortunately for Lennon, Bale, and especially Redknapp, Moyes has already shown in the Steven Pienaar situation that mere money cannot tempt him to part with his most prized players.

Related posts

Leave a Comment