LONDON: The Premier League’s relegation battle is all over with one final round of matches remaining this coming Sunday.
Newcastle United and Norwich City were condemned after Sunderland defeated Everton 3-0 in their game in hand. The goals came from Lamine Kone (two) and Patrick Van Aanholt, from a free kick.
Victory left them four points ahead of both Newcastle and Norwich with Aston Villa long gone at the foot of the table.
Manager Sam Allardyce thus takes his team to Watford on Sunday having maintained his survival record with his team having lost only two of their past 13 games.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez can be much less sanguine. His team have collected only six points from their past 10 matches and his future appears in doubt.
Allardyce who succeded Dick Advocaat after a disastrous start to the season, said: “It’s been an outstanding achievement, a magnificent effort, from the grim, dark days of December, when we lost five games on the trot, to staying up with a game to spare, that’s pretty miraculous.
“Our performances from the turn of the year have been good and the last two games in particularly have brought great joy and satisfaction.
“It’s wonderful to feel the appreciation from supporters, it’s is what we are in the game for. We strive for success for everybody. I have huge admiration for the supporters here because they have stuck with the team through so much disappointment.
“It has been testing, not just on the field, but off it. But for me I’ve just tried to focus on the players and not let the outside influences get to me or the players. In the end we have come through stronger and stronger.
“We’ve just secured the financial side of being in the Premier League, which is the most important thing, so it’s how wisely we spend it. The contribution of the players brought in during January has been really big and now the next set of recruitment is crucial.
“This club can’t be cheering and doing a lap of honour just for escaping relegation. The thing I’m happiest about is there will be no cutbacks now.
“This club has been in this position before and said it doesn’t want it to happen again, that has to happen this time.”