Newcastle 3 Cardiff City 0 match report: Toon Army force Alan Pardew to take cover

Home fans’ anger bemuses travelling support  as Cardiff are relegated after one season at top

St James' Park

When it came to the 69th minute in the former Sports Direct Arena yesterday, the mass walk-out added up to 2,000 at most. All afternoon the Toon Army had been singing songs of mutiny but when the appointed time arrived – to mark the last time any silverware of worth was deposited in the cobwebbed trophy cabinet at St James’, the European Fairs’ Cup back in 1969 – the vast majority of the 50,239 crowd remained in situ to see Newcastle end their six-game losing streak with a victory that cements their position in ninth place in the Premier League table.

Amid this latest episode in the perennial soap opera of Newcastle United, it passed barely without notice – certainly by the locals – that their opponents had something tangible to mourn. The defeat, combined with Sunderland’s first victory at Old Trafford since 1968, consigned Cardiff to relegation after one season back in the sun.

Their poor supporters looked bemused by the seething discontent expressed by the Newcastle fans – and must have felt like the Yorkshiremen in that Monty Python sketch, fighting about who had it the worst. They can only dream of their beloved red-shirted Bluebirds finishing in the top half of the  top-flight. It has not happened since 1954.

The harsh reality for them, beyond the visit of Chelsea a week today, is second-class Championship fare. “The realisation that we’re down is very disappointing,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reflected. “It’s the hardest moment in many of the players’ careers, and in mine as well.”

 

Asked whether he would be staying, Cardiff’s manager of five months replied: “Definitely. We’ve taken a step backwards. It’s about showing character and bouncing back. I’ve got a contract. I’m planning for the Chelsea match next week and for going forward.”

As for Alan Pardew, if he is to have a future with Newcastle United beyond their last-day trip to Liverpool, perhaps he should invest in a flak jacket to wear over his match day suit.  The Newcastle manager returned to home dug-out duty for the first time since his pitch-side ban to be greeted by a banner in the East Stand opposite that implored ‘Pardew Out, Ashley Out.’

The vocalised disaffection that followed was directed at both manager and owner. There were chants of “We want Pardew out” and, for the benefit of Mike Ashley, “You fat Cockney bastard, get out of our club.”

Twice in the opening quarter of an hour Pardew ventured out into his technical area but backtracked as the boos grew louder. It was all very pantomimic, although his players managed to maintain their composure and snatch the lead, Shola Ameobi heading home a right-wing cross from Moussa Sissoko in the 18th minute.

Sissoko also drove a low shot against the left-hand post but the jeers intensified when Pardew next appeared. By the midway point in the first-half, the manager’s assistant, John Carver, was despatched to relay instructions.

All the while, Solskjaer stood helpless alongside, watching his red-shirted charges struggle to turn the tide. Only when he switched Wilfried Zaha from wide on the right to the opposite flank did they spark to life, the Manchester United loanee wrong-footing Mathieu Debuchy on the left side of the penalty area and firing a low drive that Tim Krul saved with his outstretched right foot.

Ten minutes into the second half there were loud cheers at the sight of a banner depicting Pardew, Ashley and Joe Kinnear with a big red cross over the face of the departed director of football. Those holding the artwork were ejected and were cheered on their way – as were those who left in the 69th minute.

Those who remained saw a belated raging at the dying of the light by the visitors – Fabricio Coloccini making a goal-line clearance to deny Aron Gunnarsson – before Loïc Rémy side-footed a second goal for Newcastle in the 87th minute and then substitute Steven Taylor poked in a third in injury time.

Even then, the pantomime was not over. At the final whistle, Pardew swiftly shook hands with Solskjaer and disappeared down the tunnel. He did not come back when his players and support staff returned for an embarrassing mass acknowledgement to a near-empty stadium.

“I gave a quick clap before I went off,” Pardew said. “I didn’t want to make an issue or a problem. It was difficult today; I’ll make no bones about it. The most important thing was to get a victory for the fans.

“They’re obviously upset and angry about our recent run. I understand that … I apologise to them.”

Line-ups:

Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett (Haidara, 69); Sissoko, Anita, Tiote,  Gouffran (Gosling, 69); Shola Ameobi (S Taylor 78), Remy.

Cardiff (4-4-2): Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Da Silva (Eikrem, 86); Zaha, Mutch,  Whittingham, Kim (Bellamy, ht); Gunnarsson, Campbell (Jones, 73).

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Man of the match: Krul (Newcastle)

Match rating: 5/10

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