Phil Neville is confident that Everton can respond from the FA Cup exit in the best possible way by beating reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
The Blues skipper described the 3-0 quarter-final defeat to Wigan Athletic as ‘disastrous’ but insists that the players will use the disappointment as a means of motivation when Roberto Mancini’s side visit Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime.
“It was more than disappointing - it was a disastrous weekend for us,” said Neville. “It was a disastrous performance and there is no hiding away from it.
“Personally I was embarrassed with my own performance because it wasn’t good enough as a captain. We have got to take our medicine and take the criticism that comes our way.
“We really thought that this was going to be our year in the FA Cup but we were beaten on the day by a team that was better than us. Sometimes you can lose cup ties and be unlucky but there was nothing unlucky about Saturday – we were well and truly beaten and we need to put that right.
“There are two months left in the season and now it’s time to bounce back and get a reaction. That’s what the supporters and manager wants.
“I’m confident in the group of players that I share a dressing room with that we will do that.”
While the FA Cup dream has now been extinguished, Neville believes that European qualification through the Premier League is still a realistic target for Everton.
The captain, however, is refusing to look too far past this Saturday’s game against Manchester City, where the Blues are targeting a fourth successive home victory against the Citizens.
Neville added: “A Champions League place is in the distance so we would take a European place now. It’s what we have aimed for all season, that next season there is European football being played at Everton. That’s our aim and still remains our aim.
“At the moment our short-term aim is to win next week against Manchester City, to recover and bounce back and show a reaction that we didn’t get on Saturday against Wigan. We want to attack the last ten games of the season and it’s a time when we need to stand up for ourselves.
“We had a disappointing February and we picked up our form going into March. This week was a major setback for us but this team and club has got character. I fancy us to bounce back.”