Trailing 2-0 to Hull with 20 minutes remaining, Pardew motioned to the bench for Papiss Cisse to warm up. After a quick warm up, Cisse was thrown into the game with the hopes that he could contribute something. What he did was turn the game on its head by scoring twice to earn Newcastle a point in what looked to be a foregone conclusion. An inspired substitution is what some media outlets called it but in reality it was the last throw of the dice for Pardew. Results on the pitch have been far from impressive this season and another defeat would have surely meant that the manager would be clearing his desk come Monday morning. The newspapers had been taunting him in the run up to the game with his opposite number, Steve Bruce ironically picked as favourite to replace him. Pardew knew he couldn’t lose so instead threw an unfit striker into a game against his medical team’s advisement. The gamble paid off and Pardew was granted a stay of execution but was it the right decision by owner Mike Ashley or should he have shown Pardew the door anyway?
If it were up to the fans, it would have been the latter. Newcastle have been less than remarkable this season and sit bottom of the Premiership after five games. Defeats to Southampton and Manchester City along with draws at Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and now Hull hardly spell success for Pardew and his team. Injuries to key players like David Santon and new signing Siem De Jong have hindered Pardew’s team selections but with the squad he has, the team really should have picked up more points than they have done so far. The fans demonstrated their frustration with the manager in front of a watching Mike Ashley holding Pardew Out signs at the Hull game but the owner seemed hardly fazed by the proceedings instead sitting emotionless in the stands. Pardew responded defensively suggesting the fans have created a mass hysteria in a move that is hardly going to win over the home support.
Never a popular replacement for the departing Chris Hughton, Pardew had to work hard to change public opinion and it appeared as though he had turned the corner in the 2011/2012 season when he guided Newcastle to a fifth place finish and picked up the LMA Manager of the Year award. But the following season was less convincing with a run in Europe combined with a lack of depth in the squad highlighting Newcastle’s limitations who eventually finished their league campaign that season in 16th place. Pardew blasted everyone but himself in an attempt to deflect the attention away from his own failings. Too focused on potential Europa League success, Pardew let the league campaign suffer by playing his best team abroad and a weakened side in the Premiership. Newcastle slipped quickly down the table with an exhausted squad unable to cope with the dual demands. Realistically the only thing that stopped Newcastle from being relegated that season was time itself, as if they had played another four games, the drop would have been likely. He survived and managed the team through yet another season but results and off field antics only created a further divide between the clubs fans and the manager. The turning point for Pardew appears to have been the head butt on David Meyler and his subsequent ban thereafter. It was seen as the final straw by the fans that up until then had tolerated the manager and the clubs rollercoaster campaigns.
Pardew has six years left on his bumper contract a fact well known to owner Mike Ashley. Originally given to create continuity at Newcastle similar to what Manchester United had under Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsenal have under Arsene Wenger, it could be a hindrance in Ashley’s attempts to change things at the top. Sacking him now would ensure a bumper pay out for the former Southampton and West Ham boss, something that may not be keen to do but if Newcastle’s poor form continues, it may be a lesser of two evils given the amount of money Ashley could lose if the club is relegated for the second time in his tenure. Tonight’s result against Crystal Palace in the cup may not be the decisive factor but instead the next run of games could help Ashley make his mind up. Winning the next three games against Stoke, Swansea and Leicester could propel Newcastle back up the table and protect Pardew’s long term future at the club. Unlike previous seasons, he has the resources needed to turn things around but must firstly look to heal the wound he has created between himself and the fans and get them back on side if he is to succeed. Excuses only buy time; they don’t buy results which is exactly what Newcastle need and fast.