Neville urges Everton cup caution
Phil Neville insists Everton have plenty of work to do before they can realise a Wembley dream as they prepare to host Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.sports Updated: Mar 07, 2009 11:03 IST
Phil Neville insists Everton have plenty of work to do before they can realise a Wembley dream as they prepare to host Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Manager David Moyes has won plenty of plaudits for the job he has done at Goodison Park since he arrived in 2002, but his greatest achievement so far has been to guide the Blues to fourth place in 2005.
Everton supporters grew used to regular silverware during the 1980s but their last trophy was the FA Cup in 1995.
They have endured several relegation battles since then but while Moyes may have brought stability to the blue half of Merseyside, the fans crave trophies.
Expectation has been growing since they knocked bitter rivals Liverpool out in the fifth round and they are now just one game away from a semi-final at Wembley.
Middlesbrough could be dangerous opponents. They lost 4-0 at Tottenham in midweek and are in a relegation battle, but they pulled off a shock 2-0 win against Liverpool last weekend.
As a result, Neville has warned his team-mates against over-confidence when they take on Gareth Southgate's side.
The former Manchester United player said: "This is a dangerous game. They are a team that on any given day can upset anyone - look at what they did to Liverpool.
"We must make sure it doesn't happen to us. The league table shows that Middlesbrough aren't in the best form but, away from home and with no pressure on them, they will see this as their chance to kick-start things.
"It would be great to get to Wembley but, for all I care, the semi-final could be played in Timbuktu. Getting to the semi-final is not my major ambition.
"I want to win the FA Cup this year and so do the rest of the lads.
"This is a big occasion and I'm sure the ground will be rocking on Sunday but there is still so much to be done.
"Even if we beat Boro, we won't have achieved anything in the grand scheme of things. All we will have done is taken a step nearer to the final. That has to be everyone's focus."
Moyes may have to revert to deploying Australian star Tim Cahill in attack if he feels Louis Saha is not ready for a first start since November.
Brazilian striker Jo, who is on loan from Manchester City, is cup-tied, while Victor Anichebe, Yakubu and James Vaughan are all injured, with defender Tony Hibbert also sidelined.
Having missed so many chances of silverware at Manchester United - including last season's Champions League final victory against Chelsea - Saha is determined to make his mark.
He said: "I've missed a couple of finals, so it would be good to take part (in one) in such a big competition.
"There's obviously a big step to make against Middlesbrough, but then we have to see what we can do after that."
Southgate will be without midfielder Mohamed Shawky while on-loan striker Marlon King is cup-tied, but the Boro boss feels expectation will weigh heavily on the Blues.
Boro picked up a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park in November and Southgate is hoping for a similarly stubborn display from his charges.
He said: "It's a huge game for Everton. It's been a while since they were in a cup final so there's a bit of pressure on them and as the home team they will be totally expected to win.
"We're rank outsiders but we've got a brilliant opportunity to get to an FA Cup semi-final.
"We were strong and resilient when we went there earlier in the season and we will have to be so again."
First Published: Mar 07, 2009 11:01 IST