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Phil Neville admitted Everton blew their chance of Wembley glory after getting their rivals exactly where they wanted them.
The Blues skipper conceded his team froze in the second half, even though they had got one foot in the final.
And he argued the players now need to take a long look at themselves after throwing away such a massive opportunity for glory.
“We played on the front foot in the first half. We did. We thought we had Liverpool where we wanted them at 1-0 but the best teams score a second when they are on top,” he explained.
“But we sat off them too much in the second half. We allowed them to dictate the play - we need to look at ourselves and how we played in the second half.
“Sylvain has apologised to the fans for his mistake, but he has no need to do that, because the way we played in the second half, they may well have scored anyway.
“Straight from the kick-off Downing went through and that unsettled us. We sat too deep and that was the problem.”
Neville is vastly experienced, and he knows it will be hard for the team to lift themselves after such a devastating victory.
Yet he issued a rallying cry for the players yesterday, as he insisted the desolation they all feel should act as an incentive to go back to Wembley and do a proper job the next time.
“It’s going to be difficult to lift ourselves, I can’t deny it. It’s going to be a test of our mettle now and it will be tough,” he said.
“But back in October, everyone had written us off. Everyone thought the club was on its knees and we were finished as a team. But we bounced back.
“We’ve got five games left and if we can finish seventh that might give us European football. That is something to hang on to.
“We have got to make sure we keep getting to these occasions. If you look at the Liverpool team, they have got experience of these stages. We haven’t. That is something we have got to keep striving to.”
One thing Neville is certain of, manager David Moyes will use the disappointment to motivate himself, and he believes the talented boss won’t walk away from the club in the summer.
“The way he has managed us in the last month or two suggests to me that he is in it for the long term. He has been fantastic and rotated the team, something this club hasn’t been able to do before,” he said.
“The lads have really embraced that. He is ambitious and he wants to get to the top. He wants to do that with Everton. We’ve just got to make sure we stop slipping up at this stage of games.”
Royston Drenthe has ruined his prospects of securing a permanent move to Everton after being omitted from the club's FA Cup semi-final squad by David Moyes for another breach of discipline.
The Dutch winger reported late for training last week and was immediately sent home and told to stay away from the club by the Everton manager. It is not the first time Drenthe has been late or tested the patience of Moyes, who claimed a recent absence from the squad was due to "compassionate leave", and, with only five matches of the Premier League season remaining, he is unlikely to feature for Everton again.
Drenthe's pace and penetration were sorely missed by Everton in their poor semi-final display against Liverpool, but Moyes would not compromise squad unity by including a player who has let down his team-mates several times. The 25-year-old is on a season‑long loan from Real Madrid and out of contract in the summer. He has expressed a desire to remain on Merseyside and at one stage Moyes may have tolerated the erratic behaviour of a player who has scored four goals in 27 appearances this season. Now it appears the Everton manager has washed his hands of him.
Whether Moyes himself will be at Goodison Park next season remains uncertain after the semi-final exit ensured his decade in charge will remain trophy-less. The Scot always intended to leave talks on a new contract at Everton until the end of the season but although defeat by Liverpool has added to Moyes's frustrations, the club captain, Phil Neville, believes he is planning to stay.
Neville claimed: "The way he has managed us in the last month or two suggests to me that he is in it for the long term. He has been fantastic and rotated the team, something this club hasn't been able to do before. The lads have really embraced that. He is ambitious and he wants to get to the top. He wants to do that with Everton. We've just got to make sure we stop slipping up at this stage."
Everton appeared content to preserve their first-half lead at Wembley where only their goalscorer, Nikica Jelavic, performed well. Yet despite a brittle second-half display, Tim Cahill claimed Kenny Dalglish's team were gifted a place in the final after mistakes from Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman led to Liverpool's goals.
"It didn't seem as though they caused us many problems. We pretty much handed the game over," said Cahill. "They scored the two goals and they have to do that to beat us. But they are going to find it difficult to win the final. But they seem to have the luck on their side when they play Everton. They get the rub of the green and a few decisions didn't go our way. But I have a lot of respect for Kenny and his boys and if they win the cup, then fair play to them."
At full-time, David Moyes stood with his feet planted on the touchline, seemingly unable to move. His season had just ended in front of his eyes. Another year - his 10th - without a trophy.
The Everton manager is not to be blamed for this. His achievements at Goodison Park are far greater than those measured by cups in cabinets. Nevertheless, Moyes feels it dreadfully. This was his chance, he thought, to have another tilt at glory.
There were handshakes for his players and applause for his club's supporters who had travelled south to Wembley in such hope. In truth, though, he looked a little dazed.
Maybe he just feels what many onlookers feel. That it is, in all honesty, time for Moyes to move on. The Scot will be 49 this month. After a decade at Everton, he is at the peak of his powers and it is hard to escape the fact that he works for a club without the financial muscle to take him where he wants and deserves to go.
A loyal, driven man, Moyes will not leave his club easily. But in a summer when managerial change looks likely at clubs such as Tottenham, Chelsea and maybe even Aston Villa. Moyes's name will surely figure highly on shortlists being drawn up across the Barclays Premier League.
After Saturday's disappointment, Moyes perhaps sensed that the subject would be raised. This may be one reason why he took the unusual step of denying daily newspapers a post-match briefing.
His captain Phil Neville was asked the question, though, and Everton supporters will hope that the defender's take on the matter is accurate.
'The way he has managed us in the last month or two suggests to me that he is in it for the long term,' said Neville. 'He is ambitious and he wants to get to the top. He wants to do that with Everton.'
They have been at the top end of the League before, of course. In 2004, Moyes guided the club to the Champions League qualifying rounds. Five years later they lost the FA Cup final against Chelsea.
These achievements, though, have come against a background of uncertainty over Everton's future. Owner Bill Kenwright continues to try to sell the club Moyes's success is all the more notable for that.
Seemingly stuck with their atmospheric but dysfunctional stadium for the foreseeable future, it is difficult for Moyes to work properly in the transfer market. Understandably, it is this that frustrates him the most.
On Saturday at Wembley he saw his team beaten by a group of players from Liverpool assembled relatively expensively. Given £20million to spend, it is highly unlikely that Moyes would waste it on Stewart Downing.
That defeat by his neighbours will make it more painful. Moyes will perhaps deny it, but it means a lot to him to outwit the club from across Stanley Park. Despite their victory, Liverpool were typically modest in their performance and were there to be beaten once the excellent Nikica Jelavic gave Everton the lead.
Curiously, Moyes's players seemed to lack belief. Curious because man-management and motivation are particular skills of the Scot.
Everton retreated into themselves in the second half and once Liverpool equalised there only looked like being one winner.
Moyes will certainly ask himself why that was as he reflects on an afternoon when a golden opportunity slipped by. He said: 'The way we have been playing, I thought this was our chance. I am just really disappointed that I couldn't give those fans a final.'
Everton's supporters will forgive him that, of course, especially if he can finish above Liverpool in the League. Those same fans, though, must also understand if Moyes takes an opportunity to try his luck somewhere else.
It seems odd to say it, given Everton's rich heritage and their place in our game, but Moyes's talents are deserving of a bigger stage.
The last time Everton defeated Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final their right-flank pairing, Harry Makepeace and Jack Sharp, spent their summers playing cricket for Lancashire, the latter also for
England, and the left-winger, Harold Hardman, was an amateur. That was in 1906 and ever since, it seems, Everton have been found wanting when meeting Liverpool in Cup ties of such magnitude.
The subsequent losing run includes three domestic finals and, now, four FA Cup semi–finals. It is not that the club always freezes on the big occasion, as Saturday's 2-1 defeat was Everton's first in eight semis. The last loss at this stage was the controversial 1977 exit at the hands of ... Liverpool. More recently David Moyes, for all his achievements as manager at Goodison, has won four out of 23 matches against Liverpool and never at Anfield (while Kenny Dalglish has lost three of 26 Mersey derbies in management).
This inferiority complex was apparent at Wembley. Having gone ahead through Nikica Jelavic Everton seemed intent only on hanging on, surrendering the pitch to their opponents. True, Liverpool's breakthrough was down to a bad error by Sylvain Distin but there had been other opportunities.
"We thought we had Liverpool where we wanted them at 1–0," said Phil Neville, "but the best teams score a second when they are on top. We sat off them too much in the second half. We allowed them to dictate the play.
"I don't think there is a psychological barrier with Liverpool, but straight from the kick-off [Stewart] Downing went through and that unsettled us. We sat too deep and that was the problem. We need to look at ourselves and how we played in the second half."
Arsenal fans moan about their seventh trophyless season but Everton have now gone 17 years without silverware, their longest drought for half a century and an age for a club whose nine titles are exceeded only by Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
The question for Everton now is: what next? Neville is one of five Saturday starters in their 30s, as is Steven Pienaar who they will try to bring back permanently from Tottenham in the summer. Also in his 30th year is Phil Jagielka who may think, next time he receives entreaties from elsewhere, why stay at a club where he was not selected for the biggest game of the season? Leighton Baines, too, may look at Mikel Arteta prospering at Arsenal and think maybe it is time to move on.
Renewal is underway. Darron Gibson and Marouane Fellaini are both 24 and Ross Barkley is following Jack Rodwell off the production line, but how long before Moyes tires of Everton's budgetary restraints? Investors are proving elusive and the club is struggling to keep up financially. Robert Elstone, the chief executive, said when increasing ticket prices by three per cent: "We are tasked with driving up revenues, tasked with finding more money to support all we do down at Finch Farm [the training ground]."
Neville, at least, was optimistic that his manager would stay. "The way he has managed us in the last month or two suggests to me that he is in it for the long term. He has been fantastic and rotated the team, something this club hasn't been able to do before. The lads have really embraced that. He is ambitious and he wants to get to the top. He wants to do that with Everton. We've just got to make sure we stop slipping up at this stage of games.
"Back in October everyone had written us off. Everyone thought the club was on its knees and we were finished as a team. But we bounced back. We have got to make sure we keep getting to these occasions. The Liverpool team had experience of these stages. We haven't. That's something we have got to keep striving for."