“I think the frustration and disappointment were a result of the actions Pepe took when he got a deserved red card, and also when Andy came off and went up the tunnel he was disappointed with the way the game’s gone, not necessarily for himself but for the team. The frustration takes him up into the dressing room.” Reds boss KENNY DALGLISH.
“His English isn’t great – I think he’s only had one lesson since he’s been here. We had Africa Day at the training ground on Friday with the food, that probably helped him. He had some curried goat and maybe that was why he was fuelled up.” Toon chief ALAN PARDEW on two-goal hero Papiss Cisse.
WHAT a desperate end to a wretched afternoon.
As Jose Enrique pulled on the goalkeeping shirt, Pepe Reina walked off and out of Liverpool’s FA Cup semi-final date with Everton at Wembley.
The raging Spaniard turned his fury on defender James Perch whose theatrics had contributed to him being handed his marching orders.
But forget scapegoats and tales of injustice. The truth is Liverpool and Reina got what they deserved.
Reina only had himself to blame for picking up a three-match ban which will bring his run of 183 consecutive league appearances to a juddering halt.
His stupidity didn’t cost Liverpool at St James’ Park yesterday as they were long since resigned to their fate by the time the red mist descended.
But his reckless decision to shove his head in the direction of Perch, who took the chance to audition for an Oscar, seriously risks consigning this rollercoaster campaign to one of abject failure.
Easter is just around the corner and Liverpool have all their eggs in one basket.
Put the FA Cup alongside the Carling Cup in the Anfield trophy cabinet come May and the pain of this pitiful sequence of league results will be eased.
But fail in that mission and there will be no escaping a major inquest into a league campaign of such glaring under-achievement.
Having leapfrogged the Reds courtesy of their win over West Brom, Everton will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing Kenny Dalglish’s side under that giant arch in the capital.
Unless there is a dramatic transformation, they will be up against a Liverpool team woefully out of form and virtually devoid of confidence with a keeper untested at Premier League level between the posts.
Alexander Doni, who arrived from Roma last summer, has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Reds.
The last time the Brazilian was spotted in action was in a friendly against Rangers at Ibrox back in October when he departed before the hour mark after suffering a dislocated finger.
Doni has waited patiently for his chance and now he will be thrown in at the deep end against Aston Villa on Saturday.
After a full week to recharge the batteries, Dalglish was hoping to find solutions to their recent slump in the North East but the problems for the manager continue to mount.
A third successive defeat and a sixth in seven league games means they have taken just eight points out of a possible 36 in 2012.
The last time Liverpool endured a worse run than that in the top flight was in 1954.
As if being let down by under-performing players wasn’t bad enough, Dalglish’s squad decided to add indiscipline to their list of sins yesterday.
Reina lost the plot after being tripped by Perch but he wasn’t the only one.
Just minutes earlier there was the disgraceful sight of Andy Carroll muttering abuse in the direction of the bench as he was substituted and then heading straight down the tunnel.
The home fans, who had taunted their former hero throughout, lapped it up. The show of dissent from Carroll was painfully clear and unacceptable.
What a contrast with Craig Bellamy who followed him off and shook his manager’s hand before taking his place on the bench.
It was always going to be tough for Carroll as he returned to Tyneside for the first time since his record-breaking £35million move 14 months earlier.
His hopes of a warm reception were swiftly dashed and the baiting from the stands was constant.
Carroll, like Liverpool, promised much early on. Clearly fired up, he put himself about and provided the visitors’ most potent threat.
Yet it was typical of the way his Anfield career has gone so far that what should have been a moment of individual glory turned into abject embarrassment.
Having got the better of Mike Williamson and Perch, a rampaging Carroll burst through on goal but as he skipped past Tim Krul he went crashing to the ground.
Replays showed there was no contact from the keeper and rather than a penalty Carroll deservedly got booked for diving.
From there his afternoon went downhill fast and with Luis Suarez off the pace and ineffective the Reds’ challenge disintegrated.
Once again Liverpool paid the price for failing to make a sustained spell of dominance count as aside from that Carroll chance, Martin Skrtel nodded wastefully over.
Of course they should have had a penalty when Steven Gerrard’s corner struck Williamson and was then blocked on the line by Danny Simpson’s arm.
It was a big decision as Simpson would have seen red and referee Martin Atkinson got it badly wrong but that’s still no excuse for what followed.
The Reds’ big problem all season is that they have to work so hard to get a goal compared to how cheaply they concede.
Newcastle’s 19th minute opener with virtually their first attack simply underlined that. The impressive Hatem Ben Arfa was given far too much space as he ventured to the edge of the box unchallenged.
His deep cross picked out Papiss Cisse who pulled away from Skrtel and dispatched a header past Reina. It was all far too simple.
Only once this season have Liverpool gone on to win after conceding the first goal and they never looked like changing that worrying statistic.
Their passing was predictable and there was little show of fight. Newcastle should have killed them off before Cisse finally put the result beyond doubt just before the hour mark.
The Senegalese striker was clearly offside when he converted from close range but the fact is the £9million January arrival now boasts seven goals in seven games – just one less than Carroll has managed for the Reds in 48 appearances,
After that Liverpool’s misery grew. The home fans taunted Enrique with ‘You should have stayed at a big club’ and sang about his prediction they would fail to make the top six.
The away end hit back by reminding their hosts the left-back has won more major trophies in nine months at Anfield than Newcastle have managed in the last 43 years. It was all they had to cling to.
By the end Enrique had Reina’s gloves on and it was simply a case of damage limitation. Chastening defeats are becoming a worrying habit this Liverpool side are struggling to kick.
NEWCASTLE: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Gutierrez, Guthrie (Gosling 65), Tiote, Cabaye, Ben Arfa (Santon 90), Cisse (Shola Ameobi 74), Ba. Not used: Elliot, Taylor, Vuckic, Ferguson.
LIVERPOOL: Reina, Flanagan, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique, Shelvey (Downing 76), Spearing, Bellamy (Henderson 79), Gerrard, Suarez, Carroll (Kuyt 79). Not used: Doni, Aurelio, Maxi, Coates.
GOALS: Cisse 19, 59.
CARDS: Yellow - Carroll, Shelvey, Cisse, Flanagan, Tiote, Perch. Red - Reina.
REFEREE: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).