The pressure on Newcastle manager Alan Pardew cranked up as his side were beaten 1-0 by Stoke at a rain-drenched Britannia Stadium.
Scorer: Stoke City - Crouch (15)
Ahead of this match Magpies owner Mike Ashley – who the club insist was joking with the comment – said Pardew would be “finished” if it ended in defeat. It will be interesting to see what the future now holds for him after a performance from the Tyneside outfit that hardly supported his case to keep his job, and was watched by Ashley from the stands.
Newcastle – several of whose fans held up ‘Sack Pardew’ signs throughout the contest – were slow to react at the back as Peter Crouch headed in from a Victor Moses cross in the 15th minute.
And while there were other moments of defensive uncertainty from the visitors, they rarely looked like finding an equaliser.
Stoke might have had a penalty in the first half when Yoan Gouffran bundled over Moses, and substitute Marko Arnautovic then hit the post early in the second half. Overall, Mark Hughes’ team were value for what were their first points at home in the Barclays Premier League this season and takes them from 17th up to 11th.
Newcastle, meanwhile, stay second-bottom and without a league victory this term. They have won only once in 14 top-flight games stretching back to 2013/14, with ten of those being losses, and Pardew must be wondering if his time is up.
After a scrappy opening to the game in which Steven Nzonzi and then Emmanuel Riviere struck off-target, one of several moments of quality from Moses – and some hesitant Newcastle defending – led to the deadlock being broken which what would prove to be the winning goal.
The on-loan Chelsea winger got the better of Daryl Janmaat on the left flank and sent in a delivery that Crouch, outjumping Magpies skipper Fabricio Coloccini, crashed into the net.
As the lofty frontman wheeled away in delight, cries – seemingly from fans of both clubs – of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” rang out around the stadium and Pardew looked very worried indeed.
Coloccini fired over the Stoke bar moments later, while a loud clap of thunder breaking out over the ground only added to the sense of gloom surrounding his sodden manager.
Newcastle rarely threatened but it looked like Jack Colback might rescue them in the 84th minute – however, when the ball dropped to him right in front of goal, he could only fire it against the crossbar and then hold his head in disbelief.
Stoke City: Begovic, Bardsley, Shawcross, Wilson, Muniesa, Whelan, Nzonzi, Diouf (Arnautovic 23), Adam (Ireland 61),Moses (Assaidi 82), Crouch. Subs Not Used: Pieters, Huth, Bojan, Sorensen.
Newcastle United: Krul, Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett, Tiote, Colback, Sissoko, Cabella (Ameobi 74), Gouffran (Obertan 68), Riviere (Cisse 46). Subs Not Used: Anita, Elliot, Steven Taylor, Armstrong.