A tumultuous week at St. James Park got just a little bit of sunshine when Papiss Cisse rescued a point with his second-half brace against Hull City, and celebrated by saluting cancer-battling teammate Jonas Gutierrez.
It was a match that was rumored to be manager Alan Pardew’s last in charge if the Magpies lost, and Newcastle went down 2-0 before Cisse subbed on in the 69th minute.
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The little used striker needed less than five minutes to slot home before heading home an equalizer in the 87th minute. Both goals were punctuated by Cisse lifting his shirt to reveal a message: “Always moving forward Jonas.”
Gutierrez, the long-time Magpie, recently revealed that he has been fighting testicular cancer for more than a year. He also said the cancer had spread to other parts of his body.
“Jonas is a big man. I remember my first goal in England, Jonas crossed for me to score a fantastic goal.
“My message is to keep going for him. Life is not finished, he needs to be happy and enjoy the rest of his life.”
Newcastle now had just three draws from five matches, but the sharing of points made life a little easier for Pardew, who was subject to multiple “Sack Pardew” demonstrations from the crowd.
He remained defiant after the game. Though he didn’t blame the fans for the atmosphere as in weeks past, he did nod to the negativity at St. James Park during his post-match comments.
“It’s been a difficult start for us,” Pardew said. “I’m conscious of not making excuses because I’ve been accused of making excuses. I just want to do defend the team, but we were really good at times today and hopefully the fans can digest that.
“It’s not lost on me that I get accused of being arrogant but I’m also a proud man to be manager of this football club and I’m going to fight to keep it. My team need to reflect that and I think they did today.
“Ironically, one or two people clapped me as I walked out and I thank those couple of fans – it was only two. We need to win every game that we can at the moment to release some pressure. And I just want to end this interview by thanking the players because I wouldn’t have liked to have played in that game.”
Whether Pardew keeps his job for a week, two or longer remains to be seen, but the St. James Park crowd will take some solace from Cisse’s classy nod to a well-liked teammate. Still, the days of Pardew leading this squad to Europe are long-forgotten.