Tom Cleverley targets top six spot for Everton
Published 28/12/2015 | 02:30
There are plenty of ways to win a football match, but few can beat the exhilaration of a last-second winner, away from home, in a game that had threatened to offer yet more evidence that Everton still do not possess the quality needed to play in the Champions League.
When Tom Cleverley's looping header shattered Newcastle's brave defence in the third minute of stoppage time on St Stephen's Day, it was arguably the most important goal his side have scored this season.
Everton will not win the Premier League. But they have had a different, even more damaging problem in their pursuit of a top-four finish.
At times this season, Roberto Martínez's side have not even been able to win when they are playing well. This looked like being another case in point, after Romelu Lukaku had missed three chances and Ramiro Funes Mori had been denied by a brilliant save from Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
"I don't think anyone would disagree that over the last four games we've deserved better results," said Cleverley.
"So Newcastle will hopefully be a catapult into Monday and the new year. Hopefully that gives us confidence and another dimension to our game, to really challenge in that top six."
Newcastle manager Steve McClaren talks a lot about progress, but the reality is he took over a team that spent £54m in the summer and are two places below where they finished last term.
For Moussa Sissoko, there is only one solution - more money has to be spent in January.
"The owner and the staff will be making decisions," said Sissoko. "They will decide if they need to bring players in. If they are able to bring good players in, we will be happy about that."