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Old 11-04-2011, 06:10
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Cool Phil Neville rues annual need for recovery after Everton beat Wolves

• 'There is still an air of disappointment about this season'
• Michael Kightly says Wolves have stopped battling

There is something increasingly contradictory about Everton's season – every victory seems only to intensify the frustration. Four wins in six matches have taken them from the mid-table maelstrom to the threshold of European qualification but once more the club have been left pondering what might have been.

It is a case of déjà vu. Up to mid-December David Moyes's side won three games. Since then only Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United have picked up more points. A slow start was followed by Champions League form in 2008-09 and again in 2009-10. Everton are now well on their way to completing an unwanted hat-trick.

"That's what Everton do," said Phil Neville, who scored his first goal since April 2008. "Even though we are in this run at the moment, I think there is still an air of disappointment about this season. We expected so much and I think we've still failed to really deliver. The pleasing thing is that we've persevered.

"After the Bolton defeat a couple of months ago [that left Everton three points above the relegation zone] the alarm bells could've been ringing. But we all regrouped, we didn't panic, the boss persevered with what he knows is best and I think we all knew once we started doing the basics better we were going to start winning games and that's what we're doing now."

At Molineux the basics were accompanied by three terrific goals. Jermaine Beckford glanced home Leon Osman's cross for the opener before Neville thumped home his museum piece and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov thrashed a swerving 25-yard effort into the top corner on the stroke of half-time. The tantalising prospect of finishing above Liverpool for the first time since 2004-05 remains, despite injury issues that meant Moyes had to name two 18-year-olds and three 19-year-olds on the bench.

"I think talk of Europe is still daft really," said Neville of his side's prospects for the remaining six games of the season. "We're taking each game as it comes. We are in a good run, if there's a form table we'd be up near the top, but it's so pleasing at the moment to play with these younger players. I think that's the way Everton is heading. We need to start producing more players because they will get a chance."

While Everton are left to rue the past, Wolves worry about what might be to come. Mick McCarthy's side are not yet adrift but heavy back-to-back defeats have darkened the mood. "They hit us with a sucker punch for the first goal and it was downhill from there really," said the Wolves winger Michael Kightly. "We've got to be better than that but to come in at 3-0 at half-time – the game's over. It's a bit out of character. All season we've been tough to beat, when we have lost games we've given teams a right battle. We haven't done that for the last two weeks and we know that isn't good enough."

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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annual, beat, everton, neville, phil, recovery, rues, wolves

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