Gary Neville says West Ham United have set the benchmark for the likes of Everton but has warned both clubs to forget the top four.
David Moyes has worked wonders at West Ham and led the Hammers to their best ever Premier League points total as they narrowly missed out on a Champions League place by just one win last term.
West Ham’s sixth place finish secured Europa League group stage football, which gets underway with a game in Croatia against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.
Benitez came close to being West Ham boss and now he must get Everton competing with Hammers
Moyes’s old club Everton meanwhile finished 10th and lost manager Carlo Ancelotti to Real Madrid.
Like the Hammers, Everton have started the season unbeaten and sit fourth in the fledgling table with three wins and a draw from their opening four games under Rafa Benitez – who came within hours of being named West Ham manager back in 2015 (The Guardian).
Fast forward six years and Benitez is now tasked with getting something meaningful out of an expensively assembled Everton squad.
Asked what Everton can achieve this season on Sky Sports’s Monday Night Football, Neville said West Ham set the benchmark for the kind of over-achievement the Toffees should be aiming for.
Neville says West Ham set benchmark for Toffees but says both clubs should forget about top four
And he said Everton must force their way into a group of four clubs – Leicester, West Ham, Tottenham and Arsenal – in the fight to be the best of the rest behind the top four.
“Forget the top four, forget (Man) United, (Man) City, Chelsea, Liverpool,” Neville said on MNF.
“That’s (top four) not going to happen.
“But I think if you look at Brendan Rodgers’s Leicester, David Moyes’s West Ham, Nuno’s Spurs, Mike Arteta’s Arsenal I think they’ve (Everton) got to get into that.
“If they can do what David Moyes did last year at West Ham, I think that was where you over achieve. I think for me that (emulating West Ham) would be a great success (for Everton).
Neville comments show how far West Ham have come under Moyes… and to think some Toffees didn’t want him
“That aligned with a couple of what would be standout victories, big victories – you know go and win at Anfield, go and win at City, go and win at Old Trafford. Do something that makes those fans believe that they’ve got something special. Get Goodison Park rocking for a big home game that people remember.
“So I think getting in amongst those four teams West Ham, Leicester, Spurs and Arsenal… that’s the only way Rafa Benitez is going to win these fans over is giving them great moments.”
It shows how far West Ham have come under Moyes that the Hammers are now being used as a yardstick of success for the likes of Everton.
And to think some Everton fans did not want the Scot back when he was linked with a return before signing a new three-year deal with West Ham in the summer.