Former Everton captain Phil Neville says he hated playing in Merseyside derbies, describing them as "overhyped". The 41-year-old spent eight years at Goodison Park after leaving Manchester United in 2005 and was given the armband by manager David Moyes just months after his arrival.
Early bath and own goal
Neville endured a disappointing start to derby matches against Liverpool, getting sent off in the first Premier League meeting in 2005-06 before scoring an own goal in a 3-1 defeat at Anfield the following March. The former England international admits he never grew to enjoy playing in those games, largely because of the pressure from the supporters.
"I hated Merseyside derbies, I really did. I thought they were overhyped," he said on Sky Sports. "I think [in] a Manchester derby, we used to talk about from 48 hours before. Merseyside derbies were a week before. The masseur would put up on the wall 'five more sleeps', the next day 'four more sleeps', the next day 'three more sleeps until the Merseyside derby'. It was the biggest game.
"We used to go into derby days full of confidence thinking we could compete but Liverpool always used to play the game",he continued. "We got too involved in trying to smash someone early on, fans saying you've got to die for the badge. It was the only game Everton wanted to win."
"Come on lads" - Carra
Neville says Moyes would always warn his players not to allow Liverpool's Jamie Carragher to have too much influence over officials.
"It's a tight tunnel at Goodison Park. All you can here in the tight tunnel is Jamie Carragher, in his squeaky Scouse accent, shouting 'come on lads'," he said. "Every game we played against Liverpool, David Moyes would say 'don't let Jamie Carragher ref the game'."
More pressure as the skipper
Neville also admits it was a mistake for him to be made captain so early in his Everton career, as it damaged his relationship with the fans and some team mates.
"They [the fans] hadn't accepted me because after one month David Moyes made me captain," he said. "At the time I accepted it but, looking back, I shouldn't have done. I should have got my feet under the table and waited six months but he wanted it done and he wanted it done straight away. I found it really tough as I wasn't accepted by my team mates. I was the teacher's pet, I was Moyes' little boy."