IT’S DIFFICULT to say what’s more laughable – Andy Van Der Meyde’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that he might one day be Everton manager or his tawdry criticism of a player whose reputation he could only dream of emulating.
The Dutch winger might have been joking on Twitter when he day-dreamed about a triumphant return to Goodison with his coaching badges, but he was apparently serious (and sober) when he tore into Phil Neville in his new book.
Maybe it should be no surprise that the 33-year-old resents Neville so much – because the Everton captain is everything he was not.
While Van Der Meyde became a shambolic joke on Merseyside before departing into obscurity, a man two years his senior is still competing every week in Europe’s toughest league and is held in universal respect across English football.
That’s no accident. The man nicknamed ‘Shandy’ may have had his personal troubles at Everton – but everyone has their woes, and he proved spectacularly incapable of dealing with his.
Everton supporters recognised Van Der Meyde’s countless faults and partly forgave them even before the publication of the tell-all chronicle, detailing his booze and pills downfall which emerged in his native Holland last week.
Despite leaching more than £6m from Everton in wages over a period when he managed just a handful of games, he was even recalled in some quarters with faint affection for his role in Dan Gosling’s famous 2009 derby goal.
Yet by criticising Neville – and ridiculing his England and Manchester United career – he is plumbing further lows amid what he claims is a fresh new start in his life.
He is entitled to talk openly about why his Goodison career crashed and burned. Perhaps his book should be printed and distributed to young players as a guide to what not to do when signing for a foreign club.
But what gives him the right to talk about a man who has truly embodied the spirit of Everton FC since arriving in 2005?
He may raise a few stunned laughs by boasting of training while drunk at Finch Farm – or of petulant outbursts at David Moyes.
But in the end the joke is on the Dutchman who should have used Neville and committed professionals like him as an example.