ALAN Pardew says he smiled just once as Newcastle United ended a six-game losing streak – and it was when Steven Taylor scored.
The long-serving defender came off the bench to score an injury-time goal in the 3-0 win over Cardiff last weekend.
But Taylor – who has had a frustrating season on the fringes – might not be smiling when Pardew names his team for Sunday’s final game of the Premier League season at Liverpool, as the 28-year-old could again find himself among the substitutes.
Taylor had gone three years without a goal.
Fans again chanted for United manager Pardew to be sacked during the Cardiff match, but the 52-year-old allowed himself a rare smile when Taylor poked the third goal home from close range.
Pardew says it has been “hard” leaving Taylor out of his team this season.
“Probably the only time I smiled was when Steven scored,” Pardew said. “He’s a great character.
“I do love him, and it’s been hard leaving him out of the team. He got his goal, and I’m pleased for him.”
Liverpool are now 20/1 to win the title after Manchester City moved two points clear of Brendan Rodgers’ side on Wednesday night after their win over Aston Villa.
But Taylor, veteran of many pointless trips to Anfield, where Newcastle haven’t won a league game in 20 years, isn’t expecting them to ease up.
“They’ve got world-class players,” said Taylor, whose appearances have been limited by suspension, injury and the former of others, notably Mike Williamson.
“Steven Gerrard, Suarez and Sturridge are outstanding.
“They’ve had a fantastic season, but we’ll give 100 per cent, and we’ll go there to win a game.”
Taylor, linked with a summer move away from Tyneside, reiterated his keenness to stay after the Cardiff game.
“I’m under contract for a couple of years,” he said. “I’m looking to kick on next season.”