THE response was swift and emphatic. Twenty four hours after watching their rivals from down the East Lancs Road move to the brink of a record-breaking 19th title, the message was clear.
Liverpool might be knocked off that infamous perch but the battle to clamber back on it has already begun and they are up for the fight.
Seeing Manchester United move clear of that cherished record is a bitter pill for Kopites to swallow but the pain is lessened by what is happening under Kenny Dalglish at Anfield.
In the away end at Craven Cottage last night there were no long faces. Just joy and pride at what unfolded in front of their eyes. And bags of optimism about what the future holds.
Liverpool’s revival came too late to make an impact at the top of the Premier League this season but make no mistake they will be a force to be reckoned with next term.
With some quality additions to the squad this summer, Dalglish will make sure of that.
In four months the transformation he has overseen has been remarkable and this ruthless demolition of in-form Fulham showcased exactly what the Scot has achieved.
Mark Hughes’ side weren’t just beaten, they were dismantled. The Cottagers, undefeated at their Michael Jackson-decorated home since the turn of the year, were torn to shreds by some scintillating attacking football.
As is the Dalglish way, it was accompanied by a tireless work ethic. Everyone battling for each other for the collective cause.
Remarkably, for the second time in three games, Maxi Rodriguez walked away with the match ball. It was a memorable hat-trick, completed in style with a stunning piledriver past the hapless Mark Schwarzer.
Dirk Kuyt and scintillating Luis Suarez, who terrorised Brede Hangeland throughout, completed a five-star display but Liverpool could easily have had more.
Victory ensured the Reds climbed back above Tottenham into fifth place to remain on course for Europa League qualification. Spurs won’t relish the prospect of Sunday’s showdown at Anfield.
What an occasion this was for skipper Jamie Carragher whose historic 666th appearance was celebrated in style.
On the night he moved clear of Ray Clemence and Emlyn Hughes into second place in the Reds’ all-time appearance list, he demonstrated once again why he belongs to be mentioned alongside those greats.
Carragher ensured Liverpool stood firm amid a Fulham fightback after the break before Dalglish’s side stepped up a gear and killed off the contest.
The memory of Carragher’s red card and a 3-1 defeat on their last visit to Fulham was banished.
This was the Reds’ biggest ever victory at Craven Cottage – surpassing the 4-2 win back in 2004.
Dalglish’s side took just 32 seconds to stamp their authority on proceedings.
Lucas Leiva was outstanding throughout and it was his pass which sent Suarez scurrying down the left.
The Uruguayan’s cross was inadvertently directed goalwards by defender Carlos Salcido and Schwarzer inexplicably opted to clear with his feet. The keeper succeeded only in finding Rodriguez who gleefully slotted into the net.
Fulham simply couldn’t live with the speed of Liverpool’s passing and movement. It was no surprise when six minutes later they doubled their account.
Lucas was again the architect with a perfectly weighted chip for Glen Johnson to race on to. The right-back clipped an inviting cross to the back post and Rodriguez coolly volleyed home.
It was the Argentinian’s sixth goal in just over three hours of football and he wasn’t finished there. The club shop needs to stock whatever the resurgent midfielder has started having for breakfast
Outclassed in all areas, Fulham resorted to trying to rough Liverpool up. After Danny Murphy went into the book, Steve Sidwell and Clint Dempsey were both fortunate to avoid punishment.
Only Suarez’s overly dramatic fall after he was shoved in the back saved the hapless Hangeland from seeing red for a professional foul.
It mattered little because even with 11 aside this was a mismatch. By the 16th minute the points had been wrapped up and the third was a gift.
When Kuyt tried his luck from a tight angle just inside the box there appeared to be little danger but Schwarzer’s living nightmare continued as he somehow allowed the ball to squirm past him.
Everything the Dutchman touches turns to gold at the moment. A 15th goal of the campaign equals his best ever return for Liverpool and he became the first Reds player since John Aldridge in 1989 to score in five successive league games in the same season.
The confidence surging through the Reds was underlined by the sight of teenager John Flanagan, once again slotting seamlessly in at left-back, bursting into Fulham’s box. He couldn’t provide the finish but the Academy graduate once again impressed.
The hosts were barely given a kick in the first half and when Clint Dempsey did break free the American was thwarted by Johnson’s goalline clearance.
Fulham had to improve in the second half and briefly they did. Liverpool’s momentum was dented by the loss of Raul Meireles with a hamstring injury and Mousa Dembele pulled one back with a crisp finish.
However, the Reds responded and with 20 minutes to Rodriguez added a fourth with a blistering strike.
Relentlessly, Liverpool continued to press with Suarez striking fear into the hosts. Finally he got the goal his efforts deserved.
Substitute Jonjo Shelvey, who produced a classy cameo, released Suarez, who weaved his way past Schwarzer and finished neatly.
Steve Sidwell added a second for Fulham but it was the Reds who ended with a flourish as Spearing, Suarez and Kuyt all went agonisingly close to more glory.
Liverpool are on the march and the smiles are growing by the week. Dalglish’s second coming is gathering pace.