The feeling was bleak on Sunday before kickoff, with Newcastle United needing a win to survive relegation to the Championship. Something that seemed unimaginable before the January transfer window, that once again saw the Toon sit idle and do nothing but lose oft criticized manager Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace.
It was mostly a welcomed loss, since no one could really foresee the Toon going in a complete free fall with John Carver taking the reigns through the rest of the season, but on Sunday that's where we were. Hoping for the best, expecting the worst.
Jonas Gutierrez joined Newcastle United in the 2008-2009 season, the same season where they faced a similar difficult situation at the end of the season. The club had gone into free fall mode while Newcastle legend Alan Shearer was managing the side after Joe Kinnear was admitted to the hospital. After making an impressive debut for the Toon and holding down his starting position on the wing, Jonas suffered a shoulder injury and missed some time. He returned late in the season but could only sit and watch in the final game of the year as Aston Villa put Newcastle to the sword and sent them down to the Championship.
Fast forward to Sunday, when Newcastle were in a similar situation against West Ham. While a defeat wouldn't send them down to the Championship, it would put everyone on hoping and praying that Hull City wouldn't catch Manchester United and pull out a win.
Jonas' 2014-2015 season wasn't supposed to even exist. After missing most of the first half of the 2013-2014 season recovering offseason surgery, where he had a tumor removed, he went out on loan with Norwich in the January window. He played just four games and dealt with injuries during his time with the Canaries and it looked as if Jonas' career in the Premiership was coming to a close.
In September of 2014, Jonas revealed that he had been undergoing treatment for testicular cancer and his professional football career seemed all but over. When Gutierrez was discharged from the hospital in December of 2014, that wasn't the last trouble he ended up dealing with, however. While Jonas was undergoing his treatment for cancer, in not as many words he was told by then manager Alan Pardew to "go away" and not come back to the club.
"I returned at end of November,... in mid-December, manager told me it would be best for me to find another club," Gutierrez told local reporters in Argentina.
Gutierrez seemingly refused to leave the club or there were no takers, but he returned and played for the Newcastle U21 squad in late December and once John Carver took over when Pardew departed for Palace, he was working his way back to the first team, making his first appearance in late February against Aston Villa.
On Sunday, Jonas found himself in the starting lineup for the Toon playing on the left wing. He put in his typical shift, working hard, tracking back and generally being a nuisance to the other squad. For all the holes in Jonas' game on the pitch, that was the one thing that endeared him to fans, he worked his ass off the full 90 minutes.
No one could really predict what as going to happen next, as Jonas struck the ball with his left foot and sent a beautiful cross into the box that saw midfielder Moussa Sissoko split two West Ham defenders and smash it home with his head to give the Toon a 1-0 lead and safety, for now.
Even at 1-0, there was still the fear of the Hammers picking up a late equalizer and Hull still pulling out three points, as Hull had multiple goals called back for offsides and even had Man United down to 10 men. It wasn't safe.
Until Jonas scored.
Jonas received the ball, cut back inside to the corner of the box and just let go. The ball deflected slightly off a defender and was buried in the back of the net.
Newcastle are safe.
Saved by the man who was once told to leave.
Saved by the man who once watched from the bench as Newcastle were sent down in the final game.
In everything that Newcastle United supporters have had to deal with the past few seasons with the tight checkbook of Mike Ashley, the cockiness and cluelessness of Alan Pardew and the just dreadful final four months under the outmatched John Carver, they deserved a win like that.
Jonas was the hero Newcastle needed and deserved.