ON A day when nothing went right for Alan Pardew, even the ESPN director had it in for him.
Moments after Liverpool’s sixth goal was scored with effortless ease, Pardew was caught on television giving the thumbs-up to someone.
A rather odd positive gesture on an evening overloaded with negativity.
The vast majority of Newcastle fans were rather hoping Mike Ashley would give his manager the thumbs-down Roman Emperor-style either later that night or sometime yesterday.
Sunday is Ashley’s preferred day to make big decisions for Newcastle United.
It was on the Sabbath when he decided to sack Sam Allardyce and also when the club owner opted, whether on a whim or not, to try to bring Andy Carroll back on loan.
He’s not really one for leaving it until the Monday so those involved can at least enjoy their weekend.
Pardew probably didn’t know this, but if Newcastle’s beleaguered manager had been in possession of these facts then his roast beef and Yorkshire pudding would have been a lot more difficult to digest.
Football managers get sacked for all sorts of weird and wonderful reasons. A manager losing his job after a six-goal mauling at home which dragged his side closer to the Championship would be one of the less unfathomable.
Maybe Pardew felt, with only three games to go of what has become a truly wretched season for the club, his job was secure at least until May 19.
If Newcastle were run along the German model lines, where fans own a chunk of the club and have a say in what happens, then Pardew would have been sacked on Saturday night.
Those who would not have gone down that route can be divided into a dwindling number who remain behind him and the rest who believe at this stage of the season it would do more bad than good.
The memories of the Alan Shearer experiment are still fresh in the minds of some and he had eight whole games to turn it around.
Pardew hasn’t been happy with much of the “heavy-handed” criticism which came his way after the derby, either from fans or the media, which it would have been if the defeat had been in isolation.
Had Newcastle been comfortably in the top 10 at worst, or were still in Europe or had, and this is just crazy talk, gone on a decent cup run, then 3-0 defeats by Sunderland are, if not accepted, then certainly more tolerated.
None of that happened. The season has gone from average, to bad, back to average, two weeks of decent and now it’s a disaster.
Pardew can have no complaints about any stick coming his way this week.
Pardew is 9/4 favourite to be the next Premier League manager to be sacked.
To give that some context, he was 66/1 last month.
Some more statistics to mull over – since signing his eight-year contract, Newcastle have a win ratio of 24% and have scored 37 goals in 29 league games, conceding 60.
They have lost four of their last six games, including shipping an aggregate of nine goals in matches at home to Sunderland and Liverpool.
For more number-crunching, how about this – it has apparently been 282 corners whch were put directly into the opposition penalty box since a goal was scored from such a position.
Of all the comments Pardew made post-match, one that jumped out was how he wanted all his players out on the training ground at 10.30am Monday morning.
This was seized upon by fans who demanded to know why that wouldn’t be happening at 8am on Sunday. They may have had a point. Saturday night in Newcastle is always a lively affair, especially after a game at St James’ Park.
Thousands wearing black-and-white shirts mingle, if that’s the right word, with the stag and hen dos in the city centre.
On Saturday, there were few Newcastle fans to be seen. They had all gone home.
A good 25,000 of them had left the stadium way before the final whistle. Newcastle fans don’t do that. They always stay to the end. They at least go for a pint.
Such was their misery that they were nowhere to be seen.
More than a game was lost on Saturday evening.
Pardew and his players – and some of them have been a disgrace of late – lost the goodwill of the fans.
To save himself, Pardew needs to do the following: win two of the last three games, genuinely strengthen the squad this summer and start the 2013-14 campaign well.
By that I mean taking points from Arsenal, Tottenham and the like, not giving Doncaster a game.
Ashley did make another major Sunday decision.
He didn’t sack Pardew when it would have been easy enough for him do so, a real crowd-pleaser if you will.
The club could have issued a statement saying something had to be done and put John Carver and Steve Stone in charge, perhaps giving Peter Beardsley a more prominent role.
Ashley, however, kept faith with his man and maybe that’s because he’s never been a crowd-pleaser. That might be the only thing saving Pardew right now.