Everton skipper Phil Neville: Let's show some guts
PHIL NEVILLE demanded that Everton's players put 'their balls on the line' to avert a European calamity.
Neville is respectful of the threat Standard Liege pose to his side's UEFA Cup ambitions after the first leg 2-2- draw but is not daunted by the prospect of needing to get a win in Belgium on Thursday to secure a place in the group stages.
He concedes it has been a difficult start to the campaign, and that confidence has been dented by recent defeats against Blackburn and Liverpool, but Everton's captain is convinced they can turn things around by beating Liege.
But, to do that, Neville today urged his team-mates to have courage in their convictions and believe they can get a positive result in the Stade Maurice Dufrasne to set the wheels in motion on their stuttering campaign
"We brag about how great the spirit is here - now we have got to show that it is not a myth," Neville declared.
"Things have not been going well so far but now we the players have got to put our balls on the line for this club.
"We can't have any regrets when we walk off the pitch on Thursday night - and I don't believe we will.
"We have been building something for the past couple of years and we want it to come to fruition in the long-term - so we have got to believe we can win this game.
"Let's go over to Belgium thinking positively.
"I'd be lying if I said everything has been plain sailing since we finished fifth but they are things that should not really impact on us. I've heard suggestions that the manager's contract has had an effect but that is not true.
"I've not heard it mentioned in the dressing room once. The only thing the players are bothered about is getting good results for this club and we are all hurting that we haven't done that consistently yet.
"But, take it from me, we intend to change that this week."
Liege warmed up for the second leg by beating Anderlecht 2-1 last Friday and have moved to the top of Belgium's Jupiler League but Neville - who is poised to make the 93rd European appearance of his career - thinks they could be vulnerable on home soil.
His one concern, however, is that Everton have been defensively frail thus far and he knows there could not be a better time for Tim Howard and company to keep their first clean sheet.
"If I'm honest, I think Liege are there to be beaten," said Neville.
"I saw them play Liverpool and I was impressed but sometimes there is a danger that you can build a side up to be better than they actually are.
"We need to have belief and look at the bigger picture.
"Yes they played well at Goodison but look at the goals they scored - they were both defensive errors. That tells it's own story.
"I'm positive that we can go over there and score. We just have to keep things tight."
The Blues, meanwhile, have lodged an appeal with the FA over Tim Cahill's red card in Saturday's derby.
Officials submitted the appeal on Monday morning and a hearing will take place later this week. Under FA rules Everton are permitted to provide written documentation to support their appeal.
Cahill was sent-off for a challenge on Xabi Alonso and shown a straight red, giving the club right of appeal.
Cahill faces a three-game ban if the Blues can't convince the FA they have a case.