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EVERTON captain Phil Neville has labelled his performance in the FA Cup defeat to Wigan Athletic as ‘embarrassing’.
The 36-year-old says the 3-0 quarter-final loss was a “disaster” and the players must accept the criticism being thrown at them.
Neville’s stray back pass gifted Wigan their second goal as Everton conceded three times in just over three minutes on Saturday at Goodison Park.
The Blues skipper says a positive reaction against Manchester City on Saturday is now vital.
“It was more than disappointment it was a disastrous weekend for us,” he said.
“A disastrous performance and there is no getting away from it.
“I was embarrassed with my own performance. It wasn’t good enough as a captain.
“We have to take our medicine and take the criticism. We really thought 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 be unlucky but this was not luck and we were well beaten. Now it’s time to get a reaction.
“That’s what the supporters and manager wants. I’m confident we will do that.”
Neville believes qualifying for European football next season through the Premier League remains a realistic aim but has suggested hopes of making it into the Champions League are dwindling.
"The Champions League place is in the distance,” he said. “We’ll take a European place. That’s our aim.
“At the moment, our short-term aim is to beat Man City and show a reaction we didn’t show at Wigan. We need to stand up for ourselves. This team has character and I fancy us to bounce back.”
Uncertainty about the future of manager David Moyes only heightened following the weekend’s defeat to Wigan but Neville says he wants the Scot to sign a new contract at Goodison.
And the Blues skipper insists the speculation about the boss’s next move cannot be used as an excuse for Saturday’s Cup defeat.
“Moyes is massively important,” he said.
“It’s his 11th anniversary and he has given stability to the club.
“Only twice have we finished outside the top 10 and that is a massive achievement for a club like Everton
“The foundations are strong and there is no-one better you would want in charge. We all feel the pain together.
“Only he can answer (if he will stay).
“I’ve loved every minute playing with him and we all want him to stay, but that’s up to him. To use that as an excuse for Saturday’s performance, that’s a cop-out.”
VICTOR ANICHEBE insists Everton’s players are hurting just as much as the fans after the Blues’ shock FA Cup exit.
The 24-year-old was a second-half substitute in Saturday’s woeful defeat to Wigan Athletic in the quarter-final tie at Goodison Park.
Anichebe admits it was painful to watch Everton concede three goals in just over three first-half minutes as the Latics stunned David Moyes’ men and shattered their hopes of a return to Wembley.
Hopes were high that the Blues could end their 18-year wait for a trophy this season and Anichebe admits the players shared such optimism ahead of the game.
However, the Blues are left to sift through the wreckage of a disastrous afternoon.
The Everton players were made to watch the game back at Finch Farm yesterday and Anichebe is still coming to terms with a "crazy" game.
But the Nigerian international says the only way to help begin the healing process is to put in a performance to be proud of against Manchester City on Saturday.
"Hopefully we can bounce back in this game and show the supporters we do care and do always give our best," he said.
"It was a hard to watch the game. We had high hopes this year in the Cup and to get to Wembley. We wanted it as much as the fans wanted it. Obviously it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know the reasons but we can’t take it away from the season we’ve had so far." We’ve had such a great season and want to finish as high as we possibly can.
"Manchester City will be a good game to bounce back because the game at the weekend was crazy. It was a crazy three minutes. We watched it back at training and we saw the things we did wrong.
"Everyone could see several things that went wrong against Wigan.
"Nobody knows exactly what has happened. It is the first time we’ve been beaten like that this season." We’ve had a great start to the season and hopefully we can end it like that.
Anichebe was sent on for the start of the second-half in an attempt to wake Everton’s attack from its slumber but his efforts were in vain as the Blues struggled to trouble the Wigan goal.
Now, the forward wants Everton to get back to the qualities which have defined the club under the 11-year stewardship of Moyes – the same attributes which were glaringly absent last weekend.
"We need to get back to the good things that Everton do," he said.
"Chase the ball hard, work hard and hopefully get the result.
"We’ve brought other things to our game but the key to Saturday is working hard again."
Everton have 10 games left in which to secure a place in Europe but Anichebe insists they must only concentrate on the next game and forget about any rivalry with Liverpool.
"I don’t even think we should be looking at how many games we need to be winning," he said.
"If you look at how many games you need to win you might get caught up in some stuff.
"People are talking about our rivalry with Liverpool but we should just concentrate on ourselves and take every game as it comes." Hopefully we can look back at the end of the season and say we’ve had a great season."
(Ian Snodin column)
It was 1991 and we had just beaten Liverpool in the fifth round replay.
We were then drawn to face West Ham United in the quarter-finals.
We were favourites and everybody expected us to go on and win the Cup that year because we had beaten the Reds.
But we went to Upton Park and got beat 2-1.
It was a massive, massive disappointment.
The FA Cup means a lot to Evertonians and that is why we are all hurting so much today
Everton are continuing to monitor FC Twente midfielder Leroy Fer after scouts watched him against Vitesse Arnhem at the weekend.
Fer saw an £8m move to Everton collapse in January after failing a medical due to a knee injury.
The Dutch international midfielder, 23, remains keen on the move and said: 'It is still a fantastic club. But at the moment I am not thinking about it.
'Only one thing counts right now: ending the season at FC Twente in a good way.'
Other Premier League clubs were also represented at the game.'
Phil Neville has apologised for Everton's humiliating FA Cup exit, and admitted he is embarrassed by his own performance in the debacle.
With a Wembley semi-final in sight, the Blues were thrashed 3-0 at home by rampant Wigan, and saw Neville, their captain, hauled off at half-time after his touch and confidence deserted him.
Saturday's loss was a devastating blow for Everton who have been dreaming of lifting their first trophy in 18 years, and seasoned veteran Neville knows it was simply not good enough.
"It was a disastrous weekend for us... a disastrous performance and there is no getting away from it. We have to hold our hands up, accept the criticism and take the medicine," he conceded.
"I was embarrassed with my own performance. It wasn't good enough, as a captain.
"We really thought this was going to be our year in the FA Cup but we were well beaten on the day by a team that was better than us. Sometimes you can be unlucky but there was not luck involved.
"Now it's time to get a reaction. That what the supporters want and the manager wants. I'm confidence we will do that."
The backlash came immediately after the 3-0 defeat, which was decided in a devastating four-minute spell around the half hour mark.
The Everton players were booed from the pitch, and fingers were even pointed at long-serving boss Moyes.
Neville though, rejects out of hand any suggestion that their manager's reluctance to sign a new contract was in any way responsible for the cup exit, and he insisted Moyes is still the man to take the club forward.
"David Moyes is massively important. It's his 11th anniversary and he has given stability to the club. The foundations are strong and there is no-one better you would want in charge," he insisted.
"Only he can answer if he will sign a new contract, but I've loved every minute of playing for him and we all want him to stay. That's up to him, but to use that as an excuse for Saturday's performance, is a cop out."
Now, Neville is urging his team-mates to pull their socks up, and mount a renewed challenge for a place in Europe, even if a top-four finish now looks a near-impossibility.
"The Champions League place is in the distance," he said. "We'll take a Europa League place. That's our aim.
"We need to show a reaction, we need to stand up for ourselves."