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ENGLAND will have to be patient if they want to lure Phil Neville into a coaching role – because he remains a vital performer for Everton FC, says David Moyes.
Speculation has gathered in the wake of Roy Hodgson’s appointment as England manager, that the new national Supremo fancies the Toffees skipper as part of his new back-room staff.
Neville, 35, is expected to complete his Uefa A coaching licence this summer, and harbours ambitions to become a manager, but is also contracted to the Blues until summer 2013.
And even though Moyes has no doubt his skipper will make a good coach, he believes is confident that he wants to continue playing for the time being.
He said: “I’ve always thought in time Phil would get involved in coaching.
“But I think Phil still sees himself as a player and I think Phil has played as well as anyone at Everton this year.
“Like us all he had a sticky start, but whether it be in midfield or full back he has always been consistent and reliable.
“At the moment he wants to play. He is such a good guy and knowledgeable and understands what it takes for players to win.
“If you go about your business as he does then he is very well respected.
From players, managers and coaches alike and supporters.”
NIKICA JELAVIC has vowed to stay on the goal trail for Everton FC's remaining two Premier League games after he won the Barclays Player of the Month Award for April.
The Croatian striker scored six goals in the three league games he played in last month, and quickly established himself as a favourite of the Goodison faithful since joining the club from Scottish side Rangers in the January transfer window.
He said: “We are playing some great football and we are creating chances, which for a centre-forward is obviously very important.
“We are finishing the season really well and we hope to end with two more wins from our last two games.”
“I am really pleased to have won the Barclays Player of the Month award.
Everyone at Everton has been very good to me since I arrived at the club and I am glad that I have been able to reward the fans for their fantastic support.
“Awards are always nice and this one shows how well the team is doing just now.”
The 26-year-old began the month by scoring both of his side’s goals in a 2-2 draw away to Norwich City.
Having sat out the 4-0 home win against Sunderland, the former Rapid Vienna striker returned to the Everton starting line-up for the game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, where he struck twice to earn the Toffees a thrilling 4-4 draw against the current champions.
Jelavic ended the month by helping himself to yet another brace of goals in the emphatic 4-0 win at home to Fulham, taking his tally to eight Barclays Premier League goals for the season.
The decision was made by the Barclays Awards Panel, which includes representatives from football’s governing bodies, the media and fans. Jelavic becomes the first Croatian to receive the accolade.
LIKE some benign parent proudly raising their child before patting them on the back and sending them off to a better life, Everton FC are too often cast as patsies when it comes to players leaving.
Aside from the fact that Mikel Arteta was desperate to join Arsenal, many at Goodison expressed the sentiment that he deserved his chance at the Emirates after ‘doing his bit’ on Merseyside.
Despite the fuzzy logic that equates playing for a club that revived your career, gave you a European stage to shine upon, and made you its highest ever paid player equates to some form of ‘service’, nevertheless there was rightly little in the way of ill-feeling towards the Basque when he kissed adios to Goodison last summer.
Arteta had been an exceptional player, a gentleman and a dedicated performer - even after his dream of achieving Champions League football with the Blues had died.
But it’s a trend the club must be careful to guard against.
The appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager last week was quickly followed by articles in the broadsheets written by journalists who are well-connected at Soho Square, suggesting that Phil Neville is being lined up as part of Hodgson’s new coaching set-up.
Neville, who impressed many at the FA with his brief stint helping coach England's Under-21s in February, is set to complete his Uefa A coaching licence soon.
His reputation as an honest and articulate pundit is growing nicely too, even if for now it’s in the shadow of his older brother.
But at the same time he remains a regular and top level Premier League performer, who Everton miss when he is absent.
So it’s not hard to understand why Hodgson might see Neville as the ideal conduit for building relationships with younger players in the England camp.
However, Everton owe England nothing.
And while the club certainly owes Neville gratitude for the exemplary way he handles himself as an ambassador, that does not mean they are duty bound to push him into Hodgson’s arms.
A top career in coaching for Neville will certainly come, but hopefully not while the 35-year-old remains such an important player for Everton, who is not ready to hang up his boots.
BARRY HORNE: IT is awards season at the moment, with the PFA and the Football Writers dishing out the big gongs to the big players over the past few weeks.
Everton have their own gala event next Thursday, where their own club awards will be handed out, and another season of admirable achievement by David Moyes–- against all odds – recognised.
It has been a strange season in many ways, when you consider how many supporters were down in the dumps for so long earlier in the season.
But if you look throughout Everton’s squad, there really have been a number of fantastic individual contributions.
Leon Osman has had another excellent season; Marouane Fellaini has grown and grown and, for me, enjoyed by far his best season at the club; Sylvain Distin has been a rock, Steven Pienaar has been nothing short of sensational since his return in January, while Nikica Jelavic has eclipsed even the South African with his goalscoring exploits.
But for me, the Everton Player of the Season award comes down to two men - Johnny Heitinga and Leighton Baines.
Heitinga has been something of a slow burner, taking time to earn the trust of both his manager and the Goodison Park faithful.
Well he has earned it now. He has been fantastic.
But, it doesn’t matter if the vote is held in December, January, February or whenever, the winner has to be Baines.
He took a year to integrate himself into the club after joining in 2007, but since then he has been in contention every single season.
He won everything in sight last year, and I would be very surprised if he doesn’t do the same this year.
The PFA recognised it, Baines has been the best of some excellent Everton performers this season.
IT REMAINS to be seen whether Everton’s board can support David Moyes in the transfer market this summer.
But even if he is unable to make more than a few signings unless he sells a top player, there is at least continued good news at all levels beneath the first team squad at Finch Farm.
Under Alan Stubbs’ steady tutelage the reserves have embarked on a 13 match unbeaten streak since Christmas, taking some notable scalps along the way including - in their final game - Arsenal.
Marshalling Everton’s second string in the same assured way he did the club’s back four, Stubbs has guided them to third in their league, and helped the development of players like Adam Forshaw, Tyias Browning, Conor McAleny, Jose Baxter and quietly impressive January new-boy Francisco Junior.
Meanwhile, Kevin Sheedy’s u-18s have had another progressive campaign, which could yet end with winning the Liverpool Senior Cup.
They might not have repeated their title winning coup, but this season has seen players like Hallam Hope, Ross Barkley and Matthew Pennington grow in stature - with Hope in particular displaying the type of fine goal scoring form which may even save David Moyes a few million quid in the future.
Long may it continue.
Sir Alex Ferguson has pinpointed the 4-4 draw with Everton as the "killer" result that could cause Manchester United to lose the title race to Manchester City.
The champions lost Monday's derby 1-0 at the Etihad to allow City to go top on goal difference, having clawed back United's eight-point lead, but Ferguson is clear that the dropping of two points against Everton in the previous home game was crucial in allowing City side to place the destiny of the championship back into their hands.
United twice held a two-goal lead and Ferguson said: "The Everton game was the killer for us. It was an absolutely ridiculous performance in the last 10 minutes of the match. Just absolute carelessness. It's all right saying the history of the club is to attack all the time but it was a stupid performance and it's put us on the back foot, no question about that. If we lose the league, we'll have to accept it's the Everton game that did it."
Regarding the defeat by City, Ferguson said: "We didn't test the goalkeeper, let's be honest. We started the game very well – they didn't make any chances but the goal on half-time is a killer for us. To score in injury time they could set their stall out the way they did, playing a bit of counterattack and making sure they weren't going to lose a goal."
Ferguson criticised Chris Smalling for his marking of Vincent Kompany at the corner from which the City defender scored. "Young Chris Smalling got caught under the ball," he said. "Straightforward. I don't think the goalkeeper had any chance with that."
United are without Jonny Evans and Danny Welbeck for Swansea City's visit on Sunday with the latter suffering a foot injury following a second-half Nigel de Jong challenge on Monday. "I thought it was a bad tackle," the manager said. "I didn't think it was a red card and when I saw it again I thought a yellow card was sufficient. It put him out of the game because at the time he was looking as if he was going to do something. I couldn't take him off, of course, because I'd used all our substitutes."
City are at Newcastle on Sunday lunchtime conscious that victory heightens the pressure on United, who kick off later against Swansea. The Scot was critical of the different times the games were being played: "Well, you're not going to get that with television today, are you? You look at the FA Cup final with a 5.15pm kick-off. Absolutely ridiculous. Stupid. The whole reason is to get an audience, so they dominate the actual kick-off time of the FA Cup final, which is the most prestigious cup tournament in the world. It's bedlam down there now. Bedlam.
"We owe so much for the revenue that television can bring to us that they can dominate it. The only saving grace we've got is the last games of the season are all played at the same time [on the final day]. Now that is vital."
Ferguson was reluctant to say whether City being potentially only two games away from the title is the most difficult type of pressure to handle. "There's pressure on everyone, including the teams at the bottom of the league," he said. "We worry about pressure for ourselves but you think about these teams at the bottom. You get near that Championship, although you get the parachute payments going down there, the revenue and the players' ambitions are washed away."
Regarding the return of Darren Fletcher, who has a long-term illness, Ferguson added: "We're hoping he starts pre-season training. He's on a recovery road at the moment in the sense of some work he's doing but we're not able to assess that because we don't know enough about it. Darren's medical people are dealing with that. Our doctors have got a good idea about the situation but at the moment the boy's doing his best to come back."
David Moyes has warned any clubs hoping to cherry pick Everton's best players that he has no interest in breaking up his squad this summer.
Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been tracking key midfielder Marouane Fellaini, while Leighton Baines - Everton's top performer for the last two seasons - has been linked with Manchester United.
Moyes, who has no intention of sacrificing any big names, is tracking Heerenveen striker Bas Dost and said: 'It will be important that we keep hold of our best players.
'We lost Mikel Arteta last year but I don't want to sell. So I'm not going out there as a salesman to try to sell them. We have had no contact from Chelsea (on Fellaini).'
Everton have been linked with Bayern Munich forward Dale Jennings but, although scouts were at a recent game, they were not specifically looking at the 19-year-old.
Everton's Nikica Jelavic has scooped the April player of the month gong while Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has taken the managerial award.
Striker Jelavic scored six goals last month in just three Premier League appearances, including a spectacular header in the 4-4 draw at Manchester United.
The Croatian, who has only been at Goodison Park since January, began the month by scoring both of his side’s goals in a 2-2 draw away to Norwich City.
He bagged two at Old Trafford, and then two more in the 4-0 thrashing of Fulham, taking his tally to eight for the season.
He said: 'I'm really pleased to have won the award. Everyone at Everton has been very good to me since I arrived at the club and I am glad that I have been able to reward the fans for their fantastic support.
'Awards are always nice and this one shows how well the team is doing just now. We are playing some great football and we are creating chances, which for a centre-forward is obviously very important.
'We are finishing the season really well and we hope to end with two more wins from our last two games.'
Jelavic is the first Croatian to receive the accolade.
DAVID MOYES reckons Phil Neville still has plenty to offer Everton on the pitch.
Skipper Neville, 35, has been mentioned as a potential No 2 to new England boss Roy Hodgson.
But Toffees chief Moyes said: “I think Phil still sees himself as a player and he’s played as well as anyone at Everton this year.
“Players respect him because of his level of professionalism and because he has 59 caps for England.
“He still wants to play. He’s a knowledgeable guy and understands what it takes for players to win.”
DAVID MOYES has issued a ‘hands-off’ warning to rival clubs circling Everton’s stars.
Marouane Fellaini, Nikica Jelavic and Leighton Baines have all impressed, but Moyes said: “It will be important we keep our best players.
"I hope they’re encouraged by how well we’re playing.”