Not that a trip to Goodison could be said to be a challenge of the Everest variety. With the natives more revolting than restless, the cries for heads to roll, and the whiff of sulphur strong in the air, Tottenham found the mirror image of a home from home in which to launch their Christian revival mission.
By the final whistle, Gross was leaping on to the touchline in celebration. It will take more than one match for his Tottenham to win their spurs, but after four defeats in a row at least they won a match, their first since March away from White Hart Lane in the Premiership. Second-half goals by Ramon Vega and David Ginola left Everton, instead, in dire straits - bottom of the table and beaten for the fifth successive time.
It seemed appropriate that the old Z-Cars theme tune was whistling over Goodison as the teams came out. They have been screaming blue murder on the blue half of Merseyside since Everton hit rock bottom last Saturday. The chief suspect, Peter Johnson, has been accused of ripping the ambition out of one of the Premiership's supposed big five. The travelling Goodison faithful turned against the chairman at Chelsea on Wednesday night and they were still calling for his resignation yesterday.
Being first-raters themselves, in the mass of their support and in their loyalty, Evertonians are not prepared to settle for second-best any more. Instead of Bobby Robson, they got Howard Kendall as manager in the summer. And, instead of Paul Ince and Fabrizio Ravanelli, they got to watch Mitch Ward and Carl Tiler make home debuts yesterday.
There was no shortage of boys in blue anxious to make a impression and the adrenalin rush took Everton from the centre-spot to the Tottenham goal-line within 30 seconds of the kick- off. Had Clive Wilson not been on sentry duty, the flying header with which Duncan Ferguson met Nicky Barmby's right-wing corner would have given the hosts a flying start. As it was, for all their endeavour, more often than not the Toffees got stuck in the middle. Midfield authority was conspicuously absent from either side. Only once more, before half- time, did Everton threaten the Tottenham goal, the beavering Barmby clipping the bar after 37 minutes.
Shortly afterwards, one frustrated customer articulated his feelings in front of the Everton dug-out, prompting the emergence of a ring of stewards, placed on standby for fear of demonstrations against Johnson.
The hope for the Tottenham fans in attendance, was that their new manager was someone capable of delivering the goods - and not the basket case he seemed when he arrived at White Hart Lane waving his tube ticket and urging his players to perform in the spirit of Harry Hotspur. Henry Percy was a noble fighter, indeed, though he did fail to survive a tough away match at Shrewsbury
Gross, it transpires, has undertaken national service, presumably learning to take on the world with the toothpick and bottle-opener found on all the best Swiss Army Knives. Ginola actually spent a quarter of his 12 months' national service in the jungle in Zaire and yesterday was one of the days when he had the stomach for the fight.
Gross chose to deploy him in the roving central striking role he favoured at Paris Saint-Germain. In those days, though, Ginola worked in loose tandem with George Weah and Les Ferdinand's finishing was not quite in the Liberian's class yesterday. In the fourth minute Ginola found him unmarked in the six-yard box with a superbly flighted through-ball. Ferdinand, though, scuffed his shot. He also miscued a header when Ruel Fox set up the other chance that fell to Tottenham before half-time.
Not until the 53rd minute did Neville Southall get the opportunity to mark his 750th appearance in the Everton goal by making a save. By the final whistle, though, the veteran custodian had picked the ball out of his net twice. First, with 72 minutes gone, Ginola fed Andy Sinton on the left and his cross was headed firmly past Southall by Vega. Three minutes later, Ginola eluded Ward on the left and delivered his scoring shot without breaking stride.
Southall and his colleagues were cheered as they left the pitch. There were even shouts of support for Kendall. The final words, though, could hardly have been more emphatic. Some 2,000 Evertonians remained defiantly seated long after the final whistle to register the message: "We want Johnson out."Reuse content