Everton manager David Moyes admits his team have exceeded his expectations in lifting themselves to seventh place in the Barclays Premier League.
A 2-0 victory over West Brom, thanks to Leon Osman's shot taking a huge deflection off Gareth McAuley in the 18th minute and substitute Victor Anichebe's strike off the post midway through the second half, took the Toffees above near neighbours Liverpool.
"If you said to me at the start of the season we would be in seventh with seven games to go I don't think I would have believed you," said Moyes.
The Reds, who Everton will face in an FA Cup semi-final in a fortnight's time, have a chance to claw back the initiative at Newcastle on Sunday but Moyes was happy with the effort from his players to get to a position where they can challenge their local rivals.
"I am just delighted. If you said to me we would be as close to Liverpool as we were I wouldn't have believed you," said the Scot.
"We are in a stronger position than I felt we would be but the difference has been the boys coming in January - Landon Donovan, Darron Gibson, Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar.
"We have never started the season well but if you finish well it leaves everyone with a good taste in their mouth."
Since January Everton have gathered important momentum but with a third game in a week Moyes was concerned about his players' fitness.
"I thought there were parts of the game which were very good and parts which looked like we were suffering from mental and some physical tiredness," he added.
"I was worried about that as we near enough put out the same boys who won at Sunderland in midweek. I thought in the main we did the job. We still needed the second goal and at 1-0 I was deciding to shore it up because I was thinking we didn't have an awful lot left."