£35m man finds only humiliation on homecoming


Click to follow
The Independent Online

There was an attempt yesterday afternoon, as the enormity of Liverpool's capitulation was still sinking in, to rebolt the doors and hammer wood over the smashed windows.

But by then it was too late. By the time Kenny Dalglish tried to understate the size of the disaster which unfolded at St James' Park in front of the nation, intruders were in and the only question now is quite where Liverpool move on to from here.

There are seminal moments in the history of a football club. Andy Carroll's 79th-minute substitution and the tirade he aimed at his own bench as a result will become one. It felt cruel because there have been miserable afternoons for Carroll since he left Newcastle and the management of Alan Pardew, right, but nothing to compare with what he went through for yesterday. Those 15 months were encapsulated in those 79 minutes.

His first homecoming began awfully and it never got any better. It will be forgotten that Carroll beat Mike Williamson in the air and went past James Perch as if he were still wearing black and white.

Carroll, one on one, had only to go round the goalkeeper Tim Krul and put the ball into an empty goal to silence the abusers. And he did put the ball past the Dutchman, but at that point crashed to the ground, and every Newcastle supporter leapt in the air. As Martin Atkinson flashed a yellow card for that exact offence, Carroll's career must have flashed before his eyes.

Then, with 11 minutes remaining, as Carroll's number was up and he walked off, he aimed abuse at his own dugout, who genuinely looked taken aback by the hostility. Among those words appeared to be something along the lines of "e**** joke, this", phrases you simply cannot direct at your boss, wherever you work.

By then Liverpool trailed by two goals to the new king, Papiss Cissé, and watching in the stands sat Ashley and Derek Llambias, the men criticised for Carroll's exit.

Newcastle moved 11 points clear of Liverpool with this victory but still there was more misery to come for the visitors when Reina was sent off for putting his head towards Perch. Contact was debatable but intent was unquestionable, as was the red card.

It spoke volumes for Liverpool's misplaced aggression. Defeat means this is the worst run the club has been on since the 1953-54 season. Even Newcastle have won a domestic trophy since then, for goodness sake.