Everton’s 1-0 win over Newcastle gave Sam Allardyce the response he wanted following the furore caused by a club survey asking fans to rate their manager.
Theo Walcott’s second-half winner at Goodison Park on Monday night lifted the Toffees up to eighth in the table – their highest league position in the Premier League since August.
It was the first contest since Everton quizzed their own supporters about Allardyce last week and there was a visual indication of some fans’ feelings prior to kick-off with a banner reading “Our survey says… get out of our club.”
Allardyce’s critics may not have been won over by a performance at home where his team managed just one shot on target all game, yet the Toffees boss nevertheless praised his players.
Speaking about the survey, Allardyce said: “The controversy was caused by an error by one of our employees, which he obviously realises wasn’t the right thing to do.
“You get that bit of controversy and I think as a manager you just deal with it and move on. I don’t dwell on it. We’ve moved on, I’ve got no gripes against who did it, it’s gone, let’s not let it happen again, let’s move forward.
“But the players did all the talking, I’m glad to say, by winning the game again at home and putting us up to eighth place and hopefully (we will) finish this season as strong as we possibly can.”
Allardyce was accompanied in his post-match press conference by the game’s robot mascot, which allowed teenager Jack McLinden to fulfil the role ‘remotely’ despite multiple health problems.
Since Allardyce arrived in November, the two Manchester clubs are the only visiting sides to have won at Goodison Park and Everton defeated a Newcastle side that had won their previous four matches.
“I think up to 75 minutes (the performance was) excellent,” Allardyce added.
“And then we had to do a little bit of desperate defending to secure the victory that we deserved.
“Breaking down a very stubborn Newcastle defensive unit, with all players in their own half trying to suck you in and hit you on the break, was difficult. Finally we did it.
“Theo’s come up with his third goal since he arrived and it was the winner. I’m pleased for him and pleased for the team.”
A quartet of successive victories had lifted Newcastle well clear of the bottom three and they are virtually assured of safety already, even if the point that would have guaranteed it eluded them at Everton.
“To be here, to play against this team and to expect you have to beat them easily, it’s impossible,” said Magpies manager Rafael Benitez.
“They have very good players and they can make the difference.
“We battled, we fought to the end, we had the chance to draw but we lost against a good team.”