Pardew cool over Hughton tributes
Joey Barton, who had earlier been involved in a spat with Fernando Torres, set up a precious win with a goal 10 minutes from time and later paid his own tribute to Chris Hughton, who was sacked on Monday. The Liverpool-born midfielder told ESPN: "The king is dead, long live the king. "It was a tough week. We were all disappointed to lose Chris. He was a great man and everyone has said how dignified he was and how much of a gentleman he was. "He's one of the nice guys of football and it's a shame. It's a cruel game. Speaking after a 3-1 home win over Liverpool in his first game in charge, Pardew stressed there was no previous agreement to take over on Tyneside. "That was never true," said Pardew in response to the claims. "In terms of myself, I never really had any contact about this job or any other job. It's a weird situation. "One hundred per cent, and we talked about it afterwards. I have worked with Chris and he can feel very, very unfortunate that he is not sitting here now. "But we all know this game is not easy and can be cruel at times. I had a very similar issue at Southampton. "But I was conscious that when I left Southampton, they lost three games, so I really wanted to focus the team today. "It was very, very important, whoever the manager was, that they represented themselves and the club in the right manner, and they did that and more." Newcastle got off to the perfect start when Andy Carroll headed down Joey Barton's 15th-minute free-kick to Kevin Nolan, who dispatched it past Jose Reina from close range. In an even first half, both sides had chances, but it was not until five minutes after the break that Liverpool levelled when Dirk Kuyt's shot was deflected past keeper Tim Krul by defender Steven Taylor. The Reds flexed their muscles as they sensed an opportunity, but the Magpies weathered the storm and got their noses in front once again with 10 minutes remaining. Carroll and substitute Nile Ranger both helped on Krul's clearance as the visitors dithered at the back and Barton stole in to stab a shot past Reina. The goal prompted another onslaught but as nerves became increasingly frayed, Carroll chose the perfect moment to reach double figures for the season with a thumping left-foot shot which screamed into the bottom corner to seal the win. Pardew's men leapfrogged Liverpool into eighth place on 22 points, just two shy of the top six, and put a smile on Ashley's face when the two men met briefly after the final whistle. The manager said: "I popped up to see him to say hello. He was obviously pleased with the result because it's not been probably the best week he has ever had. "But the win today was really about the players because they showed their spirit and their unity out there and they made it easy for me just to add a couple of things. "But a lot of the good things that went on today was stuff that has been going on here all year." Reds boss Roy Hodgson was disappointed with the goals his side conceded to bring an end to their recent improvement. He said: "That's a major setback and it's a major blow because we have had a couple of good games recently and we were on a good run. "The way the first half went and getting the equaliser, I had high hopes that we would continue to play at the level we have played. "But we didn't, we let Newcastle back into the game and furthermore, we conceded a second goal the like of which you don't really want to see when you are a coach."