Everton in debt to the old devilry of Neville

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The Independent Football

A draw with Chelsea and victory at Birmingham has lifted the gloom around Goodison, and Neville can take a fair share of the praise for that. Everton attempt to continue their Premiership revival today against a Middlesbrough side who have won their last three matches, including Thursday's Uefa Cup victory over Dnipro.

They also won recently in the Carling Cup at Goodison. But for the inspirational Neville it was that game which convinced him that the troubled club were coming out of the woods - and now he is praying that their improvement in fortunes is maintained. "I sensed against Middlesbrough that we were showing some real form and were still in the game right up until the last few minutes," he said.

"We are still in a relegation battle, but hopefully now there is light at the end of the tunnel. There's a lot of hard work to do, don't get me wrong - we're not going to take our foot off the pedal now. But we're hoping this is just the start of things to come. The new players are settling in and there seems to be a better feel among the team."

Everton have benefited from Neville's ingrained will to win from his Old Trafford days. It is a bitter irony for Neville that he left United for regular match action. Now it is the toughness, competitiveness and confidence that Neville and the United old hands have, that is most missing from the club currently.

It is not a subject Neville wishes to dwell on, but he is trying to instil into his new Everton pals that same belief. He explained: "What we are aiming for is that when teams come to Goodison Park, they expect to get battered. That's how I felt when I was with United. You expected to batter teams and can't disappoint the supporters.

"Everton's strength was that they would be going for it right to the last minute. It was like the Alamo when you played here; that's what we need to rediscover." He added: "In his pre-match talk [against Birmingham] the manager asked for everyone to take responsibility. You look round sometimes for other people to lead the way, and against Birmingham it was all about all 11 players and not just one individual."