Sam Allardyce felt his players delivered the ideal response to the furore caused by Everton’s survey asking fans to rate their manager as they beat Newcastle 1-0.
In the first contest since the Toffees quizzed their own supporters over Allardyce last week, Theo Walcott struck a second-half winner to settle a dull mid-table contest at Goodison Park.
The three points lifted Everton up to eighth – their highest position in the Premier League since August – though there was a visual indication of the fan feeling towards Allardyce when a banner was unfurled before kick-off that read “Our survey says… get out of our club.”
Nevertheless, Allardyce is keen to move on from the whole affair and feels the win over the Magpies will help do that.
“The controversy was caused by an error by one of our employees, which he obviously realises wasn’t the right thing to do,” said Allardyce, who was accompanied in his press conference by the game’s robot mascot, which allowed teenager Jack McLinden to fulfil the role ‘remotely’ despite multiple health problems.
“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.”
The hosts’ only shot on target proved to be the winner as Walcott engineered some space following Yannick Bolasie’s deep cross and rifled into the roof of the net.
Newcastle, who had won four games in a row, almost conjured up a last-gasp equaliser but Jacob Murphy’s cross was brilliantly headed away by Seamus Coleman.
Asked for his assessment of the performance, Allardyce added: “I think up to 75 minutes, excellent. 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.”
Newcastle’s recent good run has lifted them well clear of relegation trouble and their safety is virtually assured already, even if the point they need to guarantee it eluded them on Merseyside.
All three points would have moved them above Everton in the standings, and boss Rafael Benitez said: “To be here, to play against this team and to expect you have to beat them easily, it’s impossible.
“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.”