Gibson is more than a good luck charm
Soccer:Everton captain Phil Neville is sure midfielder Darron Gibson means much more to the team than just a good luck charm. The Toffees have yet to lose a Barclays Premier League match in which the 24-year-old Republic of Ireland international has played.
Since arriving on a cut-price deal from Manchester United in January, Gibson has been a permanent fixture in central midfield, often alongside Neville. Victory over their former club on Monday extended Gibson’s unbeaten league run to 12 games and Neville believes the player has already proved his doubters wrong in such a short spell.
“Darron has been a revelation to play with since he arrived,” he said. “There is always that doubt when someone comes from a top side like Man Utd and they are not a consistent member of that team, playing every other two to three weeks.
“You wonder why: is it fitness, is it something else? I’ve been in that situation and the bottom line is in front of Darron he had Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes, two of the best central midfielders in the Premier League; that was the challenge.
“When you are playing in Manchester United reserves there are always question marks against you but since he has come to Everton he has answered a lot of those questions. We expect massive things from Darron at this club. He doesn’t realise how good he can be.
“It has to be one of the snips of the century to get someone of his quality and grounding. We have someone in midfield with energy, quality and more importantly the hunger to play at the highest level and that is driving everyone forward.
“He has quality on the ball and his set-piece delivery is fantastic and to me he looks like someone who could be a five to 10 goals a season man. I think there is plenty more to come, without a doubt.”
Everton are perennial slow starters and victory over United was their first in the opening game in five seasons. They will look to end another poor record tomorrow at Aston Villa, where they have not won since February 2005.
Neville believes the players have benefited from the security of the club’s early transfer business, bringing in Steven Pienaar, Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas while also seeing the one — almost annual — big move out with Jack Rodwell’s transfer to Manchester City followed by Tim Cahill’s departure to New York Red Bulls.
He admits last season’s last-minute loss off Mikel Arteta, which left no time to find a replacement, had an affect on the players. People always ask me why we start the season poorly and only once in my time here have we started well and that was when we signed Joleon Lescott, Tim Howard and Andrew Johnson early in the summer,” he added.
“We have looked into many things but I think it is the recruitment which has been most important. When it is done early there is not the uncertainty of who we are bringing in or who is leaving. Last season the panic and nervousness of the fans spread to the team and I have to admit the team were probably anxious as well.
“We wanted to be challenging for European places and we knew with the squad we had in the first few months it was not deep enough to do that. We all maybe felt a bit sorry for ourselves or a little bit disappointed but then at Christmas when Nikica Jelavic, Landon Donovan and Gibson came in it was a totally different feeling around the place.
“All of the sudden there was a challenge of competing for your place again and we were probably the form team of the last six months. That calmness has gone into us all because we have recruited early and with eight days to go in the transfer window there is no panic if we don’t bring anyone in.”