Club captain and stalwart Phil Neville is set to leave Everton at the end of the season. Neville announced the move on the club website by releasing a statement thanking the fans and club for their support during his time at the club. There is no word on what Neville will do going forward, but it does sound like everything is on the table at this time. Fizzer, as he is known to many around the club, will be part of Stuart Pearce's coaching staff for the U21 European Championships during the summer.
Before joining Everton in 2005, Neville began his career at Manchester United with his brother Gary. Neville made over 200 appearances for United where he won 6 EPL titles, 3 FA Cups, the Champions League, as well as the World Club Cup.
Once arriving at Everton he made over 300 appearances for the club, helping to make him one of only 7 players to make 500 appearances in the Premier League. He became club captain in 2007 when former captain David Weir moved to Scottish club Rangers. While his time at Everton was lacking in trophies, he did help Everton secure passage to Wembley twice for the FA Cup, as well as deep runs into the Europa League.
Not always the most talented player on the pitch, there is no doubt that Neville brought a lot of heart and soul to a side that could always use it. A gritty defender who was not all that comfortable in attack, Neville helped out all over the back line, as well as in the midfield. One of his best performances for Everton came against Tottenham after Gareth Bale first burst onto the scene. Playing at right back, Neville completely dominated the speedy youngster to the surprise of many.
Despite all of his history at the club, it was clearly time for him to move on. His substitution at halftime of Everton's 3-0 loss to Wigan at the FA Cup finally laid bare the simple fact that Neville has gotten older. His heart and effort have not changed, but the ability simply isn't there. We have been hard on Neville this season, but full credit to him for realizing his time at the club is up and being ready to move on. We wish him the best going forward, and regardless of if he continues playing or moves to the coaching ranks, there is no doubt he is going to find success somewhere.
As for where Everton goes? The big question many will want answered is who becomes the new captain. The answer is pretty obvious, with vice captain Phil Jagielka being the most likely candidate. In terms of replacing Neville, the biggest key is Neville's wages. The captain has been among the higher earners at the club, and his departure will help to free up some money that can go to pay a player more likely to start and provide help to the club going forward. With depth at the back already a concern, it is likely Moyes will look to bring in another defender as well to provide cover.
Good luck Fizzer and thank you, for everything.