Alan Pardew believes Papiss Cissé has still been great for the club, despite failing to match his lethal form of last season.
Cissé, 27, joined the Magpies from Freiburg for a fee of £9 million in January 2012 and recorded 13 goals in his first 14 games for the club. However the Senegal international has struggled for form this term, often finding himself pushed out to the right-hand side to accommodate the in-form Demba Ba, who has since left for Chelsea.
Registering just nine goals in all competitions this season, the forward has netted three times in his last six Premier League games, including the late winner in Sunday's 2-1 win over Stoke City. However, Pardew believes the Senegal striker's all-round contribution has been valuable for the Magpies.
"He's still had a great year for us - without the goals," he told the Evening Chronicle. "In some respects he's played a lot better for us this year, his game has improved. He just hasn't got the goals and they haven't broken for him. That goal will do him the world of good. You can't take somebody like him off unless the game plan changes."
Despite describing his performance as "awful", Pardew acknowledged his striker's composure was key in netting such an important strike.
"Papiss, I think, would be the first to tell you he was awful," Pardew added. "He didn't do anything, really, to influence other than doing well on some defensive issues for us.
"But then the moment comes. It's an eye-of-the-needle pass from [substitute Sylvain] Marveaux, which he has [in his game]. The ball pops up and most strikers would snatch at that. But he let it come all the way down and finished it and in the 92nd minute, that's not easy to do, trust me."