When they stopped counting the goals that inflicted on Newcastle their worst home defeat in a top-flight League game for 87 years, Alan Pardew's future looked more precarious than Luis Suarez's.
But as a statement of intent for their banned striker, there was no doubt what the Liverpool players thought: Daniel Agger and Lucas Leiva both dedicated the win to Suarez on Twitter. He in turn tweeted his delight at the victory.
There are few ways out of a crisis for a football club that involves one of your players biting an opponent, but facing the hapless Newcastle United in the following game would be pretty high up the wish-list of any slightly tuned-in member of the public-relations industry.
Liverpool have spent a week under siege, and quite rightly so for what it is still worth, after last week's game when Suarez bit Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and was subsequently banned for 10 games.
They have fought a self-induced storm this week, and backing their player will always raise questions given the severity of the offence. It may yet be something that historically they regret, but the club was as focused on doing it the right way yesterday as much as one of their players was focused on doing it the wrong way last weekend.
That Liverpool were so good without such a talented but troubled player was also intriguing. Brendan Rodgers has nailed his colours well and truly to a precarious mast this last week in the support that has rightly or wrongly been shown to Suarez. Jamie Carragher seemed surprised to admit the performance was the best of the season. Rodgers drew issue with the notion of a one-man team and the team did the same in their performance.
The Liverpool manager called it a traumatic week and an outstanding performance and it was reassuring that a bright man was calling it correctly after the chaos that his Uruguayan forward thrust upon him. There has been all kind of arguments, many spurious, put around this week. It is still undeniable that Suarez dropped all over his manager. He has done very well to hold on to such support. The support for Rodgers came yesterday from a group of players who were so much superior that it bordered on embarrassing.
"We were absolutely brilliant today," said Rodgers. "To come to St James' Park and win six-nil is very impressive. It's been a traumatic week for the football club. We accepted that. Luis did wrong, he takes his punishment and we move on. We had to move on with a performance.
"We were so clinical. It was a terrific start for us. We were really aggressive and the pressing was really good. We talked during the week about our penetration. We have some wonderful technicians and we also have pace and youthfulness. Coutinho is a master technician. Daniel Sturridge can prove to be one of the top strikers in Europe in the next three years, you can see his pace and his power and his finishing. It's been a very difficult week, I have to say. It was a real test for us all."
Yesterday was not.
From the first moment, Liverpool blew Newcastle away. The opening goal came after three minutes, when Steven Taylor failed to push out with the rest of his team-mates, allowing Agger a free header past Rob Elliot from 10 yards. The second came in the 17th minute. Sturridge and Coutinho were the architects, Jordan Henderson was the scorer, delighting in his goal by running past the corner of the Gallowgate End. These are happy times for Sunderland supporters at St James' Park. By the time the third went in, nine minutes into the second half, the white flag came from Pardew's side. Sturridge benefited from Coutinho this time, striking his shot past Elliot. The same player scored a fourth six minutes later, from closer range, with less resistance. Some supporters left. At least they had turned up. Unlike their team.
Fabio Borini had been on the pitch for 35 seconds when he struck the fifth with his first touch of the game. One minute later, Mathieu Debuchy was sent off for a reckless challenge on Coutinho, his second yellow of the afternoon. From the resulting free-kick, in the 76th minute, Henderson crossed and nobody from the Newcastle side could even muster a touch as it curled into Elliot's goal. Coutinho had a shot tipped on to the bar. There could, as Rodgers said, had been a seventh, an eighth or a ninth but the humiliation was complete.
For Pardew there is a week of hell to come. The Newcastle manager insisted afterwards he is still the man to lead the club forward. It is becoming increasingly less his choice. Newcastle had already conceded seven at Arsenal earlier this season. They were humiliated by Sunderland on their last outing at St James' Park before the rot continued yesterday. Pardew's standing has never been lower among Newcastle fans but he stressed there is still the resolve to turn the situation (five points above a relegation place) around.
"Yes absolutely I will carry on and fight through this," he said. "We haven't become a bad staff or a bad set of players overnight. We need to roll our sleeves up and make a real good fist of these last three games but it was an awful performance."
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Elliot; Debuchy, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Haidara; Perch, Tioté; Sissoko, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Cissé.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas; Downing, Coutinho, Henderson; Sturridge.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Man of the match: Sturridge (Liverpool)
Match rating: 6/10
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