EVERTON need to revive the big game spirit of eight seasons ago if they are to earn another crack at the Champions League.
That is the belief of Kevin Kilbane, who played an integral part in David Moyes’ side finishing fourth in 2005.
And Kilbane believes it was Duncan Ferguson’s header, to seal victory over Manchester United on a raucous night at Goodison Park in April that year, which was the watershed moment in their campaign.
Less than three weeks later Everton had secured a top four spot at the expense of Liverpool.
Kilbane believes the current Everton squad are a more talented bunch than in 2005 and insists they have sufficient quality to bridge the gap to fourth place.
Seven points behind Chelsea at present, David Moyes’ men have 11 games left but know their run-in includes a clutch of challenging matches.
Champions Manchester City visit Goodison next month before the Blues face journeys to Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal – as well as the short trip to Anfield for a match with Liverpool, scheduled for May 4.
Kilbane admits Everton need to win most – if not all – of these battles with their rivals for European qualification but the 36-year-old insists teams will not relish taking on the Blues.
“They have got to be beating those teams if they are going to get into the top four,” he said. “They will be the key games because you don’t want to be chasing results you’ve missed out on.
“All those sides are top teams but they will all fear facing Everton and everyone recognises that as well.
“Man United paid Everton the ultimate respect by man marking Marouane Fellaini with Phil Jones earlier this month. Teams recognise the strength Everton have and are fearing them. They have that fear factor about them.”
He added: “We had some big games in 2005 – the night match with Man United which got us over the line when Big Duncan scored the goal. It was a fabulous night for us. And we had occasion after occasion where we were producing against the top teams.
“This side have got so many big games left, they are going to need a few of those big nights rather than just one or two.”
The 2005 team finished the season with 61 points and Kilbane, who clocked up 121 appearances and scored five goals for the Blues, believes they would have been a force in the current era.
“I think we would’ve done well,” he said. “We had a good group of players.
“In pre-season that year there was a lot of negativity around the club, Wayne Rooney had just moved to Man United and are a lot of questions were being asked of the manager. People wanted to know where the club was headed.
“But we started well, maintained that form and had a real good, solid foundation.
“We all worked hard for each other and recognised what it took to get us over the line.
“Everton, now, have got a better individuals than we had although we did have some real quality players in the team. David Moyes has taken the club forward in so many ways, on and off the pitch, and they have a solid foundation.
“The Barclays Premier League is such a tough environment right now and is so tight but Everton just need to maintain what they have been doing.”