Glenn Roeder departed Goodison Park defeated and depleted. Yet the ramifications of a gruelling ordeal on Merseyside may not be over for the Newcastle manager if the Football Association investigates complaints of racist abuse made against the club's Turkish international, Emre Belozoglu.
The £5.5m midfielder, who has been linked with a move away from St James' Park this month, provoked an angry confrontation with several Everton players after his side were awarded a 45th-minute penalty on Saturday which was skied by Obafemi Martins in what proved the pivotal moment of Newcastle's heaviest defeat of the Premiership season. Previously booked, Emre was spoken to at length by the referee, Dermot Gallagher, before offering apologies to the Everton defenders Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott, who pointedly declined his invitation of a handshake.
Though Everton attempted to diffuse the furore - the manager David Moyes and his captain Phil Neville conceding words had been exchanged but not expanding further - it is understood a confrontation occurred in the tunnel during the interval and Everton supporters have reported hearing racist comments to club officials who are considering whether to take the matter further. A spokesman for the FA said last night: "We take allegations of racism very seriously and if we receive a complaint we will look at it very thoroughly."
The allegations detracted attention from a merited Everton victory, but they did not disguise the fundamental weakness which ended Newcastle's recent revival: a suspect defence. Shorn of his first-choice back line through injury, Roeder lost the third of his four central defenders when Peter Ramage strained a hamstring in the 37th minute. Despite the continued renaissance of Nicky Butt, this time as an emergency centre-half, the chasm in quality between the respective rearguards told in the scoreline.
Though Martins' atrocious spot-kick and a farcical mix-up that saw him collide with his team-mate Steven Taylor in front of an open goal gave Everton comfort, the excellence of the home back four in preserving a third consecutive clean sheet, the dominance of Lee Carsley in central midfield and the exquisite Mikel Arteta ensured Moyes' men enter 2007 with renewed vigour.
In Victor Anichebe they also possessed a Nigerian striker whose fortunes contrasted sharply with his compatriot Martins, albeit one with a pronounced Scouse accent who, despite his two predatory goals here, should ignore the ridiculous comparisons some have made with Wayne Rooney. Both may have graduated through the Everton youth academy on the understanding of a fine future, but the 18-year-old Anichebe remains far from the unique talent of his Goodison predecessor.
As Neville, who completed a hat-trick of scrappy goals when he mis-hit his first strike in four years over Shay Given in the 62nd minute, said: "Victor is a young kid who, at the moment, is frightening the life out of defenders but we need to keep calm and let him keep progressing. He has his feet on the ground, and you can tell by the way he celebrates his goals, he doesn't get too carried away. He's a beast of a player and we're very lucky at this club to have two young centre-forwards, him and James Vaughan, coming through."
Moyes and Roeder both insisted they have no interest in signing the Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton during the transfer window, the Newcastle manager's argument more convincing on the basis his priorities lie elsewhere, and their contrasting afternoons were encapsulated in a brief exchange as they passed on the Goodison stairs. Moyes asked Roeder if he cared to share a beer; the Newcastle manager replied that he had to catch a bus.
Goals: Anichebe (9) 1-0; Anichebe (57) 2-0; Neville (62) 3-0.
Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Lescott, Valente; Arteta, Carsley, Osman, Van der Meyde (Davies, 77); Anichebe (McFadden, 71), Johnson (Beattie, 71). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Weir.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Solano, Taylor, Ramage (Sibierski, 37), Huntington; Milner, Parker, Butt, Emre; Dyer (Pattison, 77), Martins. Substitutes not used: Srnicek (gk), Rossi, Edgar.
Referee: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).
Booked: Everton Anichebe. Newcastle United Emre, Huntington, Parker.
Man of the match: Arteta.
Attendance: 38,682.Reuse content