x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Progress pleases Neville

They share a kit colour - blues - but there the similarities end. FA Cup finals invariably produce contrasting emotions between winners and losers, but Everton and Chelsea have long travelled on differing paths.

They share a kit colour - blues - but there the similarities end. FA Cup finals invariably produce contrasting emotions between winners and losers, but Everton and Chelsea have long travelled on differing paths. What is a special occasion for Everton is almost an annual event for Chelsea. This is the Merseysiders' first final for 14 years, a period in which Chelsea have played in 11 showpiece matches. It is the apex of David Moyes' seven years at Goodison Park and the culmination of Guus Hiddink's three months at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are in transition while Everton enjoy a stability that is almost unrivalled. Despite their rehabilitation under Hiddink, there is still a sense of underachievement about Chelsea's campaign. That Everton have fared better than anticipated was confirmed when, for the third time, his peers elected Moyes the manager of the season. A decade in the Manchester United team equipped Phil Neville with an understanding of the expectations at the elite clubs. He is also well placed to assess the scale of Everton's success.

"If we won the FA Cup, it would be a massive achievement," he said. "If we were to win another major honour after that, it would match anything any other club in the country has achieved. We are not the biggest spenders, we don't have the biggest squad and we are probably in the bottom five in terms of the depth of our squad. It is as if the manager enjoys the small squad and the backs-to-the-wall mentality.

"It seemed a hard task to win another medal when I left United. It takes an unbelievable effort. "We have progressed and, win or lose, this club is going in the right direction." @Email:rjolly@thenational.ae