The re-emergence of Papiss Cisse could solve two big Newcastle United problems in one fell swoop.
Magpies supporters know a false dawn when they see one, but the hope must be that Cisse’s stoppage-time winner at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday can finally get him back into the goalscoring groove.
Whenever a striker is going through a barren spell, the belief is always that it is one goal away from ending.
That is what Newcastle fans were desperately hoping when the Senegal international finally broke his duck for the season against Leeds United in the League Cup.
It did not turn out that way.
When Cisse scored twice in little more than a week either side of New Year, optimism was raised again.
It was soon dashed. It was like it never happened. So we should not get too carried away by one headed goal, even Cisse’s first in open play in the Premier League for 349 days.
It will at least lift the mood at St James’s Park for this evening’s visit of Everton after a difficult couple of games on the road.
Newcastle will be desperately hoping it has the desired effect on Cisse too.
Getting him back into form would not only solve a problem about next season’s centre-forward, but also plaster over the hole left by Yohan Cabaye, at least for now.
There is something not right about a Magpies side without a goalscoring No 9. Football clubs are built on different things, and in their case it is the romance of that shirt.
Loic Remy has been the prolific striker the club craves – every season since they last dropped out of the Premier League someone has stepped up to the plate – but the Frenchman is only here for a season, and wears 14 on his back.
When he first arrived Cisse was the swashbuckling No 9, but this term he has been a pale imitation.
Maybe he is grasping a little too eagerly at straws in an attempt to rebuild shattered confidence, but manager Alan Pardew believes he saw signs of much-needed reinvigoration at Gallowgate on Saturday.
“His all-round game was really good,” Pardew said of Cisse. “He gets himself in those positions to get the best chances like a striker who is instinctive. He looked more instinctive on Saturday than he has for a long while.
“He has been unlucky as well because he really likes to play the No 9 role.
“That is his role and obviously Loic Remy has done that brilliantly so he has had real competition this year. Now that Loic is not there (out with a calf strain), he is trying to make his claim.
“Papiss has had a difficult season and strikers do in some years. It is very rare that a striker can go through his career and have a successful season back-to-back, only the very best can do that.
“Papiss is a very good striker and you have got to show faith when they are having a difficult time. I’ve had that before with strikers.
“It is important the manager sends out the right signals and he repaid me. In the game (against Palace) he actually had better chances but he never fails to deliver at some point.
“I think that is the third goal he has scored in the 93rd minute so it speaks volumes for his fitness as well.
“I don’t think he is any more or less confident than any other strikers I have had, but they do feed on goals. It is what drives strikers. When they have barren spells it is going to affect them, any striker, and I include the best in that.
“I am so pleased he has got his goal because I hope from between now and the end of the season he gets a few more.”
The question whenever two strikers are in form is can they play together? Pardew thinks Remy and Cisse can, and his solution would finally put an end – albeit temporarily – to the question of how to replace Cabaye, sold to Paris Saint Germain in January.
“Loic would definitely be the one who drops deeper, which he has done on occasions for us,” he argued. “He does that pretty well too. I do not think Papiss does that bit well.
“Since Cabaye has gone, I have talked to Loic about playing there and I think he can.”
It is strange then, that post-Cabaye Remy is yet to fill that role, Luuk de Jong instead asked to drop deep when playing alongside the Frenchman. Depressingly defeatist though it is to say, Remy may have outgrown the Magpies. The Champions League beckons when his loan from Queens Park Rangers expires.
It means in the summer a more permanent replacement for Cabaye, an elegant No 10, will probably have to be found.
“We do need that controller of the ball, that manoeuvrer, that clever player, and we will get one in the summer, for sure,” Pardew promised yesterday.
With Cisse their only striker contracted to be back next season, Newcastle could certainly do with him coming good. As the manager keeps pointing out, there is much to do this summer and a World Cup reduces the available time, so the less spots that need filling, the better.
For now, though, Pardew’s long-term planning needs to be concentrated further back.
Paul Dummett has been the main beneficiary of his end-of-season experimentation and when the left-back’s football has not hit the heights, his attitude at least has.
“I thought he reacted well after Fulham when he did not have his greatest game,” Pardew reflected. “But his running stats were unbelievable on Saturday. Fantastic. He has one great engine for a full-back.
“He has a great mentality. He does not overcomplicate things in his brain, that’s for sure.”
Perhaps Cisse has been guilty of that this season. Soon we might hopefully be able to say “had”.