Just two points off a relegation place and out of the FA Cup in the Third Round, things go from bad to worse for Pardew and Newcastle. How many games have the Bardcodes won since Pardew was offered that eight year contract? Three apparently. It seems that being in a comfort zone is not ideal for football managers.
The decision to field a near reserve team was stupid and a record now of seven defeats in the last eight games and nine defeats in eleven Premier League matches would see many managers sacked. But can Newcastle afford to sack Pardew? They only collected £7.5m from selling Ba, and they would need all of that to buy out Pardew's contract presumably. Sacking managers on a whim is idiotic, but making them utterly impregnable because of the financial implications of dismissing them must be more idiotic still.
So where do Newcastle go from here? Pardew has warned that relegation is now a very real possibility and the win for Villa in the Cup will have helped to repair confidence for Lambert's players. That's why fielding ridiculously understrength teams in the Cup is foolish. One win breeds another win, one defeat fuels another. There is a wild fire of anxiety burning through the Newcastle dressing room at the moment, and Ba's start for Chelsea will only serve to feed that anxiety further. Newcastle were hopeless with Ba in the team, how will they cope without him?