While Everton may have overachieved to begin the year, they still ended up in 6th place, ahead of their crosstown rivals for the second consecutive season. Royal Blue Mersey looks back at the year the players had, from the goalkeepers to the strikers.
Player: Phil Neville, #18
Games Played: 18 , Games Started: 17, Goals: 0, Assists: 0, Shots: 2, Shots on Goal: 1, Fouls Committed: 21, Fouls Suffered: 5, Yellow Cards: 4, Red Cards: 0.
In what turned out to be his last season as both an Everton player and a professional footballer, Phil Neville quietly faded into the background during a season filled with disappointment and injury. As Everton began to play a much more attacking brand of soccer, Neville was never going to be a good fit in the squad, and when Moyes subbed him off at halftime of the Toffee's FA Cup loss to Wigan this fact was laid bare to the public.
It has been a quick fall from grace for Neville. Even last year he was still contributing to the side, and while he may not have deserved as many starts as he got, he was still an importance piece. This year he ended up being an example of a forgotten era of David Moyes reign. No longer did Everton slowly build up play from the back while trying to penetrate the defense. Now there is a more fluid movement about the squad, and Neville just didn't fit in with that style.
What he did well
He did well sitting on the bench. Other than that, it was clearly time for the Everton skipper to end his tenure at Goodison. He was just a step to slow to play in an EPL defense, and he has never been a creative force that Everton's midfield required. There is a reason many Evertonians would joke about Neville only having the ability to play the ball backwards
What he could do better
The end came not because of defensive lapses, but because of Neville's inability to create going forward. Too many opportunities were killed when Neville elected to pass the ball backwards rather than going forward with it. Neville has never been much of an attacking player, but his move to central midfield made his deficiencies a little to obvious, even for David Moyes. Now Neville will move to the coaching ranks where he is likely to do well. Don't be surprised if we haven't seen the last of Phil Neville at Goodison Park.
Using the school grading system of A, B, C, D, F, with A representing a great season, C an average season, and F a very poor season, how do you grade Phil Neville on his performance this year according to the expectations you had for him?