A 10-point deduction for breaching the Premier League’s financial rules had plunged Everton into the relegation zone and threatened to end its 70-year stay in England’s top division.
The Merseyside club is not out of danger yet but on Thursday climbed above the drop zone with a 3-0 win against Newcastle to underline its determination to battle its way to safety.
“The mentality is key for me. We took a knock, but there have been a lot of knocks here over the last couple of years,” Everton manager Sean Dyche said. “But the team mentality is growing. I can’t emphasize it enough. The commitment to each other and the connection is a powerful thing because I know we’ve got quality.”
Everton is appealing what was the biggest sporting sanction in Premier League history after it was found to have made losses that exceeded the competition’s profit and financial sustainability rules.
One of English soccer’s most storied clubs, Everton has fallen on hard times in recent years — narrowly avoiding relegation in each of the last two seasons.
That might not have been the case this year, had it not been for the sanctions, having been eight points clear of the bottom three before the deduction.
“Without those 10 points, we’d be in an amazing position — 20 points would be amazing relatively to the last two seasons here,” Dyche said.
Everton has responded impressively to the punishment, winning back-to-back league games.
After beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 on Saturday, goals from Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Beto secured victory against a Newcastle team that is hoping to challenge for the top four again this season.
Eddie Howe’s team had beaten Manchester United 1-0 over the weekend, but a deepening injury list is taking its toll, with goalkeeper Nick Pope, defenders Sven Botman and Dan Burn and midfielders Sean Longstaff and Harvey Barnes among those sidelined.
“We have to do better. There are reasons behind every performance and we have struggled to change players,” Howe said. “That is a big miss with the quality of players out. The longer you do it, the harder it gets. I am disappointed, a missed opportunity, we did not grab it.”
Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou was also left to assess a latest setback for his team as its winless run extended to five games after a 2-1 loss at home to West Ham.
It was a familiar story for Spurs as they squandered a lead yet again and dropped more points.
Tottenham’s run has seen it fall from first to fifth in the table, losing four and drawing one of its last five matches.
To make matters worse, the Londoners have led in each of the games during that sequence.
On Thursday it was Cristian Romero who put Tottenham ahead at home before second half strikes from Jarrod Bowen and James Ward-Prowse sealed a comeback win for West Ham.
“You want to be in a position where if you dominate games of football you turn it into wins,” Postecoglou said. “We didn’t today and it is not the first time. We let ourselves down when we should have won the games comfortably.
“The challenges are there. It is no good feeling sorry for ourselves. We still have a long way to go as a team and today shows that.”
Bowen’s 52nd minute equalizer was the seventh straight away game in which he’s scored for West Ham. Only two other players have achieved that feat in the Premier League — former Manchester United and Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, who scored in nine consecutive away games, and Manchester City’s all-time leading scorer Sergio Aguero.