James Lawton: David Moyes' Everton can still dream that resolve may upset the odds against vast wealth

This indeed might be the season when they exceed the very best of their hopes

These are supposed to be the weeks when Everton are reminded of the hopelessness of their deepest ambitions, when they are weighed down by the reality of a field that sometimes seems so uneven in might be located somewhere deep in the Alps.

It is just as well that David Moyes and his men treat the proposition as someone else's grasp of the art of the possible. Their own understanding is that if you battle hard enough, long enough you might just get somewhere close to the end of the course.

Tonight they were faced with the prospect of a shocking entry into the second half of a campaign which had promised so much. Yet their reaction went to the heart of their meaning.

They simply refused to be deflected from their belief that this indeed might be the season when they exceed the very best of their hopes.

It was more than a victory filled with character and moments of superb professional accomplishment. It was a refusal to buckle under the most dispiriting pressure. But then if January always has an edge of bitterness for Moyes, if for the last decade or so it has almost invariably confirmed his status as the most resilient street urchin in the opulent marketplace of the Premier League, this one could hardly have come in more discouragingly

He had a shopping list that stretched no longer than a couple of possible loan deals as Newcastle's latest passing hero Demba Ba travelled to meet Chelsea and get his hands on something described ludicrously as a loyalty bonus of more than £2m. That was enough to invite the old question about how long the Everton manager is prepared to fight against the financial odds, the instant strike of Papiss Cissé, whose own scoring touch had shrivelled so markedly in the shadow of the departing Ba, must have brought something close to a pang of despair.

The possibility of ambush on Tyneside, even in the middle of a slump, can rarely be said to be remote but this one was horrendously self-induced. Sylvain Distin, of all people, was lured with his central defence partner John Heitinga under the flight path of a huge punt from Tim Krul and when the ball bounced high and loose Cissé was towering above Leighton Baines to nod into the net.

This was the threat of an extremely bad night in the month guaranteed to test so profoundly a crusade which for much of the first half of the season had held the promise of not just notable achievement but something quite remarkable.

But then if Everton's resources are often pinched cruelly at the seams, under Moyes they have always been able to put something impressive on the table. It is the nourishment of the most genuine professional standards and if Newcastle's Alan Pardew was able to talk blithely of a replacement for the defecting Ba, if he could shrug his shoulders and say that something would almost certainly turn up, Moyes was not exactly stripped of options.

He could make the point that has sustained his tenure at Goodison Park for so long and with such enduring prospects for some kind of progress. It was that within his team there is never a shortfall of serious commitment. If he has to scour for talent of the required level, the supply of authentic competitive character appears to be much less elusive.

This was never more apparent than when Everton were required to battle in defence of the lead they fashioned with quite superb commitment after that catastrophic start. After the stupendous free kick of Baines and the goal superbly shaped between Nikica Jelavic and substitute Victor Anichebe, Newcastle inevitably rallied with some emotion before their aroused following. At one point Everton could not have been more physically stretched with both Anichebe and Phil Neville nursing head wounds on the touchline.

It was almost a parable of Moyes' plight. Minus key troops, his team was obliged to fight on against odds that once again were threatening to be insurmountable. But if Everton can do anything, they can face up to such a challenge with exceptional resolve. Indeed, there were times tonight when you were reminded it is rarely less than their default position.

This is one that informs all of Moyes' work and tonight as they fought so hard to regain their place in the chase for a place in the Champions' League there was another reason to acknowledge that beyond the enclaves of vast wealth in the Premier League, there is another story, another set of values.

That they have been so relentlessly pursued by Moyes for so long, and with such little self-indulgent complaint, was once against a wonder of the game.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?