The 28-year-old showed no hesitation in moving to Merseyside once David Moyes declared an interest. Neville did, however, have to consider how he would be received by a support with little neighbourly affection for players with a lifetime of success 35 miles along the M62. His arrival has provided Everton with valuable European experience ahead of the Champions' League qualifiers but that alone will not eradicate the transfer frustration that has developed at Goodison Park this summer.
Yet, as he was officially unveiled as an Everton player, Neville revealed: "The reaction of the fans over the last few days on Merseyside has been far better than I could ever have imagined. Being accepted by the fans here because of the obvious Manchester connections was something I discussed with David Moyes. He asked me if I was worried about that but I'm not at all. Fans have been stopping me in my car to offer support and one fan this morning even showed me the way to the training ground from the end of the motorway."
It is, of course, Phil's elder brother, Gary, who is renowned for reciprocating the feelings of Liverpool towards Manchester. Such local rivalry was cast aside, however, when it came to encouraging his younger sibling to seek the first-team opportunities he was denied at United. "Gary realised I needed to play more football and he's been very supportive," said Neville. He added: "I don't think for one minute there will be a reaction to my Manchester background. If I thought it was a problem, then hopefully by signing a five-year contract for the club I have shown my commitment."
Neville's Premiership debut will be against his brother and former club next Saturday, although his first appearance at Goodison will bring him into confrontation with another familiar face when Everton play Villarreal in the Champions' League - the much maligned United striker turned Primera Liga top marksman Diego Forlan.
Neville said: "I was surprised at how well Diego did last season because he struggled a bit in England. To be the leading goalscorer in Spain is some achievement and he is probably the one player we are going to have to watch more than any other next Tuesday."
l Liverpool have been denied a work permit for the Chilean winger Mark Gonzalez.Reuse content