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EXCLUSIVE – Neville Southall interview (Part Two)

Yesterday we brought you the first part of our Exclusive Neville Southall interview, which we conclude today by taking a look back at his career, and comparing teams he played in at Everton with the Everton side of today. (you can read the first part here)

You’ve never properly been replaced since you left Everton, although Nigel Martyn is probably the closest we’ve come to a keeper with your ability. Why do you think you have been so hard to replace?

Nigel Martyn is one of the best keepers in the league because he makes the least mistakes, and for me, that’s because he’s played through a time when there was a variation in teams, and a variation of tactics.

We had Wimbledon and Watford in our league, and we had other teams who just smashed it, we had Nottingham Forest who just played on the counter attack, as well as the likes of Liverpool and Man Utd who could play a bit.

So, in a week, if you played three different matches, you could have three different sorts of challenges to face, and I don’t think they get that now, I think everybody plays the same way. You don’t get the type of physical contact that you used to, and don’t forget Nigel’s used to all that, he must think it’s his birthday! He could probably play on another five years.

It’s very rare he gets hit on a cross now, very rare. Whereas I played against the likes of John Fashanu, Mick Harford, they just wouldn’t make a living now, they’d get booted out of the game. Personally I think people miss that.

When you go to watch Everton, the biggest clap is when you see someone go in for some ridiculous tackle, and come out with the ball, because people still want to see physical contact, they want to see people giving absolutely everything.

The crowd get fed up with referees, and I have to say, I was at the Dinamo Bucharest game at Goodison, and I thought that Everton were brilliant. I thought “If they can transfer this into the league, they’ll have no problem.” The effort and commitment was fantastic, the amount of balls they got into the box was brilliant, give them their due, they were magnificent.

If they could do that every week, you wouldn’t be worried about them like you are now would you?

You have to say though, that it’s only a matter of time, there are some poor teams out in that league at the moment, and when I look at the start Everton have had, some of these teams that are having so-called good runs, they’re only eight points above us! That’s only 3 wins, and you’ve got to play those teams twice. I think we’ll catch a lot of teams up and probably finish mid-table.

You mentioned that Nigel Martyn might fancy playing on for a few more years, you didn’t look so past-it yourself on Sky One’s “The Match” last week, do you have any plans of coming out of retirement?

No. I don’t really think I’ve got anything left to prove have I?

I think a lot of the lads were the same for that, they didn’t want to go and make a fool of themselves. We wanted to go and do the best we could and leave our reputation intact.

That’s the pressure with things like that, because people expect you to be like you were 20 years ago, but you’re not going to be. For me it was a joy to play with those players, and to work with Bobby Robson as coach.

Bobby’s the most enthusiastic man I’ve ever met, he could play tiddly-winks and make it into the World Cup Final, he’s just so enthusiastic. And you could see that the England lads who played for him just absolutely adored him, and you’ve got to have something to have that.

By the end of the week you just end up loving him to bits, alright he might forget your name from time to time, but his enthusiasm is fantastic.

I think that’s something needed at Everton. They don’t look as though they’re enjoying it so much, and it probably needs a spark from somewhere. It could be something that David Moyes does, it could be something that somebody else does, they’re just looking for a spark.

It could be absolutely anything, you just hope that someone can go out there and score a couple of flukey goals, win a game, and then build from there, but they just don’t seem to be enjoying it at the moment.

You said the other week that Everton needed a spark in the dressing room to cheer things up, and you mentioned earlier that John Bailey was a great character. Were there any other big characters that were in the dressing room during you time?

When you’ve got people like Andy Gray and Sharpy, Peter Reid and all, taking the piss out of everybody, you’ve got a squad of people there who know what they’re doing.

We would have worked as hard as any team in the world, but within that, the biggest thing you need to do is enjoy it, otherwise it’s just going to be a grind. And it looks to me as if it’s a grind for the current squad at the moment.

They remind me of Man City a lot, where they just don’t seem to enjoy it, and I think a lot of how you are as a team reflects the manager. David Moyes has never struck me as a laugh a minute sort of fella, so your number two has got to do that, and Alan Irvine isn’t that. He’s a lovely fella, but he’s not the “big character.” I think him and Moyes are both quite similar people.

I remember John Bailey going to Sheffield United with Howard [Kendall], and Bail’s hardly ever played, he just used to be in the dressing room, and they hardly ever lost. Bail’s just used to cheer everything up, but don’t get me wrong, it’s all serious, but the pressure should only come when you step over the white line. Not before. You never lose any points before three o’clock do you?

It is a pressure situation, but you’ve got to have a laugh, because at the end of the day, you know the opposition are going through the same thing. Howard Kendall was fantastic at taking the pressure off, he’d take it all off your shoulders, he’d make sure the place was bouncing and everyone would be bouncing round.

Whenever you see Howard, in whatever he does, there’s always a twinkle in his eye.

Would you say that Howard was the best manager you played under?

Oh yeah, by miles.

I don’t think there’s ever been anyone come anywhere close. I liked Joe Royle, I know people might have thought I didn’t get on with Joe, but in all honesty I thought he was a decent bloke. He was a good manager, but I just think there are some managers who can spend money, and there’s some managers who can’t.

I don’t think Joe was the kind of manager who could go out and spend 5,6 or 7 million, and I think that sometimes, managers are better off with less money to spend. I think Alex Ferguson can spend money, Mourinho can spend money, Wenger can. But I think sometimes, the likes of Harry Redknapp, Harry Bassett, do better with less money, because that’s what they like doing, they work under pressure, and the get the best out of people because they’re good coaches.

Howard wasn’t a big spender, but he got people as bargains, but he could also splash out like when he bought Gary Lineker. He wasn’t afraid to take a gamble, and no this isn’t a slight on Joe Royle, but I think he was better with less money, and I think David Moyes is better with less money.

Once you start giving managers money then they’re looking at a different market, and it’s maybe not the market they’re used to looking at. It’s OK looking at big players if you know them and know you can work with them, but sometimes it’s better with lesser players, and making them look like the big players.

If you look back when we won the FA Cup in 1995, we went from being “Dogs of War” to trying to play, and to be fair, we just couldn’t. We weren’t capable of playing the ball around. Joe bought players like Vinny Samways, who was a great Spurs player, because that’s what they did, but not us. Not because he was a bad player individually, but just because that wasn’t what we did.

I think there’s a certain type of player that’s an Everton player, and I don’t think that Vinny Samways or Anders Limpar were Everton players.

I think if you do well one year, the pressure’s on to do better the next year, and you do try to buy better players, but if it’s not the market you’re used to looking at, you sometimes struggle a little bit. Not because they’re bad players, but perhaps they just don’t fit in with what you’ve already got.

I think Everton last year, ground out results, and I can see what Davey’s tried to do, he’s tried to improve his squad with better players so they don’t have to grind out results, but that was what made them successful last year.

This year, we’re a little bit more open, trying to be a little bit more creative, and you’re going to get beat occasionally. And if it doesn’t quite click to start with, you’re going to get beat a lot.

Under Mike Walker, we made forty or fifty passes in our half, and then the opposition pinch it and score, and we lose 4-0 at home. Sometimes it just doesn’t work for you, and when Joe Royle came, we got it and smashed it and chased it, and we got through it and did really well, but then we tried to change it.

But sometimes it’s very difficult to stick to what you know because you always want better as manager.

You’ve had a little adventure in management and coaching yourself, have Everton ever approached you to work for us?

No. Never.

Would you come if you were asked?

Course I would. It’s my club isn’t it.

Sometimes you just have one club in your life and that’s it. I don’t bother with anyone else, I mean, I’ll look at Torquay’s results and I’ll look at Dagenham because my mate’s there, but Everton’s always gonna be the first club I look for.

I’ll look at Bury’s as well as I started off there, but there’s only ever gonna be one club for me isn’t there, it’s never ever gonna change, and at this time now, everyone’s just gotta stick together.

We were a good side last year, and we’ll be a good side again, we just need to have a little bit of patience and let’s make as much noise as we can every game, because the only thing you can do, is believe you’re going to win the next game.

If you keep believing then eventually you’ll win one, and you can build on that. If you lose that one, just believe you’ll win the next one, and the one after that, and just keep going.

We’ve all just got to keep the same idea in our heads. It’s no good sniping at David Moyes, because he’s the best we’ve got, and I think the only people that could ever replace him would be a combination of Reidy and Rats because they know what the club’s about.

But I think David Moyes has done alright, I think he’s doing alright, it just really needs a win. And then by Christmas I think we’ll see a different Everton, because you look at the players, and their all good players, they just need a little bit of confidence and that comes with winning.

But that also comes if people believe in them off the pitch, but there’s going to be a lot of negative stuff written about David Moyes and his players, and you don’t need to read that, because they’re good players.

I just think it’s a time for everyone to pull together, and we’ve all got something in common, we’re all Evertonians, and Evertonians always stick together, no matter where you are, and I think that’s what the club’s all about, about people sticking together and being positive.

Besides, none of the sides I was in ever started well. We were always better after Christmas, and we could grind sides down with our consistency then. But if you’ve played at Everton, no matter who you are, if you know what the club’s like, and what the fans are like, you know it’s only a matter of time before things click.

Everyone at NSNO would like to thank Neville for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us so openly and frankly. He still has a great passion for Everton Football Club and I don’t think anyone would argue that he is a true Evertonian legend

We wish him all the best in Borneo next year, and in his management post at Hastings, although hope that one day the club that he gave so much to can see the light and bring Neville back to Goodison Park.

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NSNO Staff

Staff Writer at NSNO.co.uk
NSNO Staff writers maintain the news on the site and ensure the site is updated frequently with the latest Everton news. Starting in 2004, NSNO has always been at the forefront of bringing you the latest Everton news and rumours, building a large forum and growing social media presence, which you can follow by clicking the links to the left.
  







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