SO much now rests on the shoulders of one player.
Newcastle United now need Papiss Demba Cisse more than ever.
The club needs his goals. The club needs the Cisse of old, the Cisse who once couldn’t stop scoring.
Bar Cisse, Alan Pardew doesn’t look to have a goalscorer capable of getting into double figures this season.
The striker took two seemingly effortless strides towards that feat on Saturday, when Newcastle came from behind to draw 2-2 against Hull City at St James’s Park in front of Mike Ashley.
Pardew - and Ashley - were again the subject of chants from fans disillusioned with both manager and owner.
But there wasn’t the expected level of vitriol, though the dissent which had been simmering beneath the surface briefly boiled over when United went two goals behind.
The protests against Pardew - who had talked about “mass hysteria” in his pre-match Press conference - were largely muted inside the stadium.
Fans, though, did raise hundreds, maybe thousands, of sackpardew.com posters early in the game.
Thousands more lay discarded outside the stadium. Others were taken off supporters on entry by stewards.
And fans backed their team, whatever their thoughts on a dismal year on the field.
In truth, Newcastle hadn’t looked like scoring before a half-fit Cisse stepped on to the field in the 69th minute.
Chances had come and gone. Too many chances.
And the game looked to have gone too.
Nikica Jelavic had earlier opened the scoring with a stunning scissor kick.
Mohamed Diame put Hull 2-0 ahead in the 68th minute - he celebrated with loanee Hatem Ben Arfa - while Cisse stood, stripped, on the touchline waiting to play his first game in five months.
Cisse - who has toiled in front of goal for two years - made up for lost time.
First, Cheik Tiote slipped him through in the 73rd minute, and he beat Allan McGregor at his near post.
Then, two minutes from time, Moussa Sissoko’s deep cross from the left was headed to Cisse by Yoan Gouffran, and he pounced to claim a point for his team on his comeback from long-term injury.
But the day wasn’t really about Cisse, it was about Alan Pardew.
And it was also about Jonas Gutierrez, who was following events on the pitch closely 7,000 miles away in his native Argentina.
Gutierrez revealed last week that he was fighting cancer.
The players had taken to the field wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Gutierrez’s name and squad number to show support for their colleague, who is undergoing a course of chemotherapy.
After scoring his first goal, Cisse pulled up his United jersey to reveal another message for Gutierrez.
It read: “Always looking forward, Jonas.”
When Gutierrez’s close friend and countryman Fabricio Coloccini returned to the dressing room after the game he picked up his mobile phone.
There was a text waiting for him from Gutierrez, who had been touched by the afternoon’s tributes.
Normally the last, along with Coloccini, to emerge from a dressing room filled with latin music, Gutierrez is as much a miss off the field as on it.
Hopefully, he will have drawn strength from the affection felt for him on Tyneside.
So where does this game leave Pardew?
The 53-year-old’s position had looked untenable the previous weekend after his team’s shocking 4-0 defeat to Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium.
A home draw against Hull won’t change the opinions of those who want him out of the club.
The campaign for him to be sacked won’t go away.
Pardew, unhappy at some of the reporting of events on and off the pitch at the club this season, had attempted to go on to the front foot in the build-up to the game.
It was a bold move from a manager seemingly on borrowed time.
That said, maybe he is NOT on borrowed time. Maybe Ashley he had been emboldened by his meeting with the billionaire eight days ago.
But United were better, much better, though until Cisse’s introduction they again lacked conviction in front of goal.
For all their possession and probing, they didn’t look like scoring before the break.
That’s been the story of the season so far.
But Cisse could yet change that narrative.
As for Pardew, no amount of protests or posters will sway Ashley.
Pardew’s time will be up only when Ashley decides it is.