There was a time when the good folk of Newcastle used to ascend the hill to Gallowgate truly screaming for blood. In 1829 some 20,000 of them trekked up the slope from the city centre to see Jane Jameson get her just deserts. The murderess came by cart, sitting on her coffin.
The Novocastrians were in a state of restlessness yesterday before Alan Pardew took his seat in the dugout at the football ground built on the site of the old town moor gallows. If he had the look of a condemned man, it was hardly surprising, given the near-funereal reaction to his arrival on Tyneside.
The locals had not exactly come to bury Pardew with praise but by the final whistle they were celebrating his maiden victory as the new manager of Newcastle, the Magpies' first in six matches. It was a sometime sinner who helped to make it a flying start for the former manager of the Saints, Joey Barton crowning a fine display by toepoking Newcastle into a 2-1 lead 10 minutes from time. An Andy Carroll cracker put the issue beyond doubt.
The object of the Toon Army's ire was not Pardew, unloved though he might be as the replacement for the popular Chris Hughton. The hundred or so locals who vocalised their dissatisfaction outside the main entrance before kick-off directed their bile at Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner. "You fat Cockney bastard, get out of our club," sung to the tune of "Sloop John B", was their most popular refrain.
Pardew might be a Cockney, by Geordie definition at least, but could hardly be described as corpulent. At kick-off time the chant reverberated around the arena, with a smirking Ashley taking his seat next to managing director Derek Llambias high up in the Milburn Stand, and Pardew positioning himself in the homedug-out virtually unnoticed.
The new Newcastle manager selected the starting XI in consultation with reserve-team coaches Peter Beardsley and Steve Stone and, happily for him, it included Kevin Nolan and Barton, the influential midfielders having recovered from the injuries that forced them to miss the 3-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion last Sunday. A quarter of an hour in, with Liverpool holding sway, Barton hoisted a free-kick from deep, Carroll nodded the ball down on the right edge of the Liverpool six-yard box and Nolan despatched a first-time shot past Jose Reina.
It took Pardew by surprise. He was busy unscrewing his water bottle and missed the moment of celebration – unlike Ashley, who was warmlyembraced by a female companion.
It could hardly have been a better first half for the new manager. The defence that had been at sixes, sevens and ultimately P45s at the Hawthorns the previous Sunday managed to hold itself together, though only just when Jose Enrique cleared a deflected Raul Meireles shot off the line in the 33rd minute.
Liverpool returned to the field with a snap in their stride and four minutes into the second half they were level – thanks to some less than tidy work by Newcastle's central defenders. A weak header by Sol Campbell presented Dirk Kuyt with an invitation to shoot but the Dutchman's low effort required a big deflection off the legs of Steven Taylor to find its way past Tim Krul.
It might have been 2-1 to the visitors a couple of minutes later had Krul not made a fine reflex save to deny Fernando Torres. As it was, Newcastle rode their luck and turned the tide. They were the dominant force, with Barton at the hub of their endeavour, long before they struck for a second time. That came in the 80th minute, Krul pumping the ball upfield, Carroll getting his head to it, substitute Nile Ranger flicking it on, and Barton poking it past Reina.
For good measure, in the first minute of injury time Carroll hammered home a left-footed drive from 25 yards. The natives were happy, but still restless. "Get out of our club," they chanted again as they streamed out on to Gallowgate.
Substitutes: Newcastle: Ameobi for Ranger (63), Smith for Nolan (87). Liverpool: Babel for Ngog (72), Jovanovic for Rodriguez (85), Routledge for Barton (90).
Bookings: Newcastle: Gutierrez, Tiote. Liverpool: Johnson.
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the match: Barton