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 City 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 visit to Anfield.
The 28-year-old could again find himself among the substitutes when Newcastle wrap up their season with a game against Liverpool.
Taylor – whose career has been beset by a series of injuries – 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 ball 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 told SportMail. “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’s side on Wednesday night after their win over Aston Villa.
But Taylor, veteran of many point-less 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 the club, 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.”