Crouch pushes Pardew closer to the edge as fans vent fury
Stoke City 1 Newcastle 0
Alan Pardew stood in the rain as his hopes of staying as Newcastle United manager were surely washed away. He stood and watched helpless as his players performed without passion, as the fans chanted constantly of their desire to see him removed.
"We want Pardew out" they chanted, along with, "It's never your fault". The Stoke fans gleefully joined in, chorusing to Pardew that "you're getting sacked in the morning". The man who will make that decision, Mike Ashley, looked on, knowing that the Premier League table will not be worth looking at. They have scored only 16 league goals in 2014, and have managed only one win in 14 in the competition.
Newcastle are off the bottom only on goal difference from Burnley. One more goal conceded here would have sent Newcastle to the foot of the table. There was no hiding place for Pardew, no mercy from any of the fans.
There were echoes of another rain-hit Newcastle defeat by a team in red-and-white stripes that cost a manager his job, Ruud Gullit departing after a 1999 loss to Sunderland. A tall striker, Niall Quinn, had inflicted part of the damage that night at St James' Park, and his role was played here by Peter Crouch.
Within a couple of minutes some of the "Sack Pardew" leaflets had been turned into paper aeroplanes and were being launched towards the pitch from the stand. A well-positioned banner behind the goal about "hopeless" Pardew was scrutinised briefly by the Britannia stewards before being left. After Crouch scored, two Newcastle fans placed another protest banner, a mournful "Ashley is the biggest problem".
Bad marking was the biggest problem when Stoke attacked after 15 minutes. Victor Moses went down the left, checking back and wrong-footing Daryl Janmaat. Moses' cross should still have been dealt with by Newcastle's defence but their captain, Fabricio Coloccini, was comprehensively outjumped by Crouch, who steered his header past Tim Krul.
The visiting fans tried to get behind the team but there was little to inspire them. Newcastle were toothless in attack and vulnerable at the back, particularly when Moses was flying forward. Referee Craig Pawson, somehow failed to give Stoke a penalty when Yoan Gouffran knocked over Moses.
Jack Colback hit the bar when it seemed easier to score late on, but that was a rare clear-cut chance. (© Daily Telegraph, London)