It is possible to sell very good footballers and emerge as a serious force in English football. That may be a crumb of comfort to Newcastle's supporters this morning. There are not many more. Everton continued their excellent season by climbing to fifth place in the Premier League. They will still believe the Champions League is possible.
Everton have sold big in Wayne Rooney, Joleon Lescott and Jack Rodwell in the last decade. It has not broken them, on the contrary in fact. From that, Newcastle, with Demba Ba ready to be unveiled as a Chelsea player, must begin to find hope. It will not come from the statistics. They have won two of their last 15 games and lost 10 of their last 13.
Alan Pardew got spirit out of his team, who sit two points above the relegation zone. In the same fixture he got three points last season. Newcastle went second that day. Their demise has been quick. Everton matched the spirit and their class told. Leighton Baines was the best player on the pitch. He could so easily have emerged as a hat-trick scoring left-back. His goal, in the 43rd minute, was brilliant, a vicious 35-yard free-kick. That cancelled out Papiss Cissé's second-minute opener, a simple affair which came from a long Tim Krul free-kick which the Everton defence missed completely. On the hour mark, substitute Victor Anichebe, who had been on the field for less than two minutes, gave Everton a lead they never lost.
Holding on to good players remains important. Selling goals (Andy Carroll left in the transfer window two year ago and Kevin Nolan went in the summer of 2011) is a dangerous game to keep playing.
At the game's start it had not seemed so significant. By the end it did. Following Ba's expected transfer and after conceding 11 goals in their last two games, Newcastle needed a spark to banish a growing sense of gloom descending in these parts.
They did not get it. James Perch hit the woodwork while Shola Ameobi and Gabriel Obertan both went close. But in the end United were thankful to Tim Krul for producing some stunning saves that prevented a rout.
He denied Steven Naismith, finger-tiped an earlier Baines free-kick round the post then, near the end, Krul had to back-peddle to tip Marouane Fellaini's effort over the crossbar.
It kept the goal difference at one but could not prevent the boos ringing out as the final whistle went.
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