Shola Ameobi's decisive late goal for Newcastle came as a welcome relief for their manager, Alan Pardew, but prompted an extraordinary outburst from his opposite number, Harry Redknapp, against some of his own players' ability and integrity. When Ameobi stepped forward to score in the 81st minute, it surely signalled the end for several well-remunerated members of the Queens Park Rangers squad that Redknapp inherited from Mark Hughes.
Confirming that Jose Bosingwa had been fined £130,000 – two weeks' wages – for refusing to sit on the bench against Fulham last week, the QPR manager said: "There are a lot of players at this club who earn far too much money for what they are. Far, far, far too much money for their ability and what they give to the club. I don't really want to see the owners have their pants taken down like they have in the past. There's a lot of agents made money out of them. I fined a player last week and he was earning more than any player earned when I was at Tottenham.
"You shouldn't be paying massive wages when you've got a stadium that holds 18,000 people. St James' Park holds 52,000, and most of their players will be nowhere near the wages some of the players are earning with us."
On Bosingwa, he added: "He didn't want to be on the bench so he went home. He's been fined two weeks' wages. That's £130,000, which is not too bad for two weeks, it's decent, isn't it? How do you handle a player like that? We'll find out in January."
The way that Pardew encumbered this contest with those two dreaded words – "must-win" – left little room for manoeuvre had Newcastle failed to deliver the desired result.
Such an outcome was anything but certain until Ameobi, one of three second-half substitutes who helped galvanise a previously lacklustre display from the hosts, accepted a pass from fellow replacement Sylvain Marveaux to cut inside and send a shot from 12 yards past Robert Green, the forward's first League goal since March. "It said QPR on the front of the programme, but in reality it was a much bigger game than that," said Pardew, whose side climbed five points clear of danger with a second victory in 12 games.
The manager earned catcalls from the stands for his decision to substitute the ineffective Papiss Cissé.
But the change was vindicated as the three pairs of fresh legs proved decisive in stretching the visitors' 19-year winless run on Tyneside. Only a fine save from Green prevented Marveaux from doubling the advantage at the end.
Pardew, who admitted Cissé had taken a little persuading to shake his hand on his withdrawal on 61 minutes, added: "I know the crowd weren't pleased when I took him off, but Shola is a big man for the big occasion.
"He knows what's demanded to win a game and he produced it. I wanted to get him on the pitch, and thank goodness I did. His composure with the way he took the goal was first class."
For over an hour yesterday, Newcastle's display was underwhelming. They were one-paced and one-dimensional, their travails summed up by two Demba Ba free-kicks that caused more problems for those supporters who were seated in the Gallowgate End than for Green, who was under-employed until the latter stages. The sense of relief was almost palpable when, with nine minutes remaining, Ameobi provided the decisive intervention.
"It's difficult when you're manager of a club as big as this to express how important a win like that was," Pardew added. "There's a feelgood factor in the dressing room. That Christmas pudding might taste a little sweeter now."
Newcastle (4-3-3): Krul; Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Perch, Tioté (Marveaux, 77), Anita; P Cissé (Ameobi, 61), Ba, Gutierrez (Obertan, 61)
QPR (3-5-2): Green; Ferdinand, Hill, Nelsen; Mackie, Mbia, Granero (Wright-Phillips, 56), Faurlin (Derry, 78), Da Silva; Taarabt, D Cissé (Hoilett, 65).
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Man of the match: Ameobi (Newcastle)
Match rating: 5/10