What is it about Phil Neville that makes people so dislike him? He was booed sporadically and with no obvious reason by the West Ham fans, Alan Pardew made it clear what he thought of him with what might euphemistically be described as a wristy gesture and he was even the subject of a half-time rocket from his own manager before guiding his side to a deserved point at Upton Park.
Yet this is a player who, as James Beattie acknowledged, perhaps deserved sympathy this week after being left out of an England squad for the first time in almost two years. "Phil has been in every England squad since whenever, so obviously he's disappointed," Beattie said.
Neville, operating in central midfield, turned in an intelligent and disciplined second half, although the positives tended to be obscured by his spat with Pardew. Neville reacted angrily to a challenge on Tim Cahill near the dug-out, drawing the usually calm West Ham manager to the touchline for a heated exchange. Both later sought out the other to apologise.
"It was right in front of me and he said something a bit unsavoury," Pardew explained. "I was weak enough to react to that. I should have been stronger and I apologise for my part in that. It was a frustrating game for me."
His Everton counterpart, David Moyes, was more concerned with Neville's disappointing first-half performance. "I wasn't very pleased with him and I told him at half-time," Moyes said. "Second half, I thought his touch, his control and his positional play was a lot better than it had been in the first."
Yet Everton, in truth, had had the better of the first half as well. Having been under early pressure, West Ham took a 10th-minute lead through Marlon Harewood but Everton levelled with a picture-book goal from Leon Osman eight minutes later. West Ham, though, regained the initiative within five minutes as Dean Ashton finished from a tight angle.
Everton, with Mikel Arteta and Neville to the fore, bossed the second half, but it was only a dreadful error from Danny Gabbidon that gave them their equaliser after 71 minutes. Lionel Scaloni must take some responsibility for his waft at Nuno Valente's cross from the left, but it was Gabbidon's clumsy attempt to clear that allowed Beattie to hook the ball over his left shoulder and into the top corner.
After five straight League wins and having held the lead for so long, West Ham might have been expecting more, but Pardew in the end was happy enough. "I couldn't see that as two points dropped, not with the performance we put out," he said. "I think it's a point gained really and that's how we should look at it."
Goals: Harewood (10) 1-0; Osman (18) 1-1; Ashton (23) 2-1; Beattie (71) 2-2.
West Ham (4-4-2): Hislop; Scaloni, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky; Benayoun (Zamora, 76), Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington (Newton, 87); Harewood, Ashton (Sheringham, 84). Substitutes not used: Bywater (gk), Dailly.
Everton (4-4-2): Westerveld; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Valente; Osman, Arteta (Kilbane, 89), Neville, Cahill; McFadden (Davies, 85), Beattie. Substitutes not used: Turner (gk), Naysmith, Carsley.
Referee: M Riley (W Yorkshire).
Booked: West Ham Benayoun, Ferdinand, Scaloni; Everton Neville, Hibbert, Arteta.
Man of the match: Arteta.
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