Newcastle will face Liverpool on Saturday for the first time since suffering a deflating 6-0 loss at home at the hands of the Reds. 6-0 victories tend to be quite memorable (Aston Villa in 2010, anybody?), so one can expect that Liverpool supporters and players alike will be feeling quite confident heading into the fixture (a flying start to the current season may also have something to do with that). Is there any hope for Newcastle fans that they can bounce back and put in a good performance? How have the Magpies responded in similar situations during Alan Pardew's tenure?
Unfortunately, we have plenty of history to draw upon. Newcastle don't have any other 6-0 black marks on their record since their return to the Premier League, but this team is good for at least one embarrassing score line per year. In fact, they have lost six times in the Alan Pardew era by four or more goals (I had to cut this exercise off at four because there were too many three goal defeats, sadly). Let's take a look at how the team responded following each of the other five occasions.
Blowout: In late February 2012, with Newcastle supporters openly dreaming about Champions League qualification, Newcastle laid an egg against the team that would eventually top them by two points. Spurs scored in the first four minutes en route to a 5-0 victory that wasn't that close.
The Response: The Toon hosted Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day of the next season and emerged 2-1 winners in what would be one of the season's sole convincing performances. This match is a decent enough comparison to the current situation, because in both blowouts, Newcastle had something to play for and were instead thoroughly dismantled. NUFC now face their tormentors in the early stages of the season as they did before. Of course, Spurs were facing a bit of an existential crisis following an uncertain summer, while Liverpool currently occupy the opposite end of the spectrum, but at least this case study shows that the team have bounced back from a somewhat similar situation in the past.
Blowout: Newcastle famously failed to invest in their squad in summer 2012, and they paid for it dearly during that year's holiday program. They limped into a match with Arsenal decimated by injury and on three days' rest, and the surprising part is that they hung with the Gunners for a half or so. A flurry of late defensive breakdowns resulted in highlight material for Arsenal, and the final score was a brutal 7-3. If there was one moment that convinced Mike Ashley to spend in January, this may have been the one.
The Response: The teams next met on the final day of the season in a match that really only mattered to Arsenal, who needed a result to finish above Spurs and qualify for the Champions League. It ended in a 1-0 result with NUFC hardly threatening to score, but hey - it was better.
Blowout: Newcastle were in a race for European qualification for the first time in years, and counted themselves lucky to have fighting-for-their-Premier-League-lives Wigan on the schedule in late April 2012. The fixture was not the walkover it should have been, however, as the Latics pulled off a 4-0 victory in which Franco di Santos performed one of the most ridiculous goal celebrations ever witnessed. The result was symbolic not only of Roberto Martinez' club's penchant for dramatic escapes, but also of the tendency of Pardew's Newcastle to overlook their inferior opponents.
The Response: The Magpies got their revenge in December with a 3-0 win in which Wigan played most of the match with 10 men. Would that the same opportunity presents itself this Saturday.
Blowout: Manchester City defeated Newcastle 4-0 in March 2013. Alan Pardew played an extremely negative tactic because he is scared of Manchester City.
The Response: Manchester City defeated Newcastle 4-0 in August 2013. Alan Pardew played an extremely negative tactic because he is scared of Manchester City.
Blowout: Stoke City defeated Newcastle 4-0 just three months into Pardew's tenure in the match that we now remember as the time that he experimented with the 3-5-2. It didn't work.
The Response: Demba Ba scored a hat trick and Alan Pardew received accolades for neutralizing the Stoke attack, simultaneously reaching the zenith of his relationship with the Toon Army and providing Premier League managers with a blueprint to defeat his future long-ball-happy teams.
It's not surprising that Newcastle managed to find a better result four out of the five times they've lost by four or more goals, simply because the odds that they would produce a horrific result against the same opponent twice in a row are not too great (Hi, Manchester City!). Still, it is somewhat encouraging to note that, for the most part, they have been able to put lopsided results in the past and concentrate on the task at hand. That doesn't mean that they will necessarily fare well against Liverpool this weekend, but if a pundit tries to sell you on the narrative that the squad is still seeing visions of Daniel Sturridge scoring on them in their sleep, you can safely ignore said pundit.
More than anything, what this exercise confirms once again is that NUFC are totally and utterly unpredictable, and that the quality or lack thereof that we see one week will not necessarily translate to the next. I doubt we'll see the same poor performance displayed in that 6-0 loss last April again this time, but I also wouldn't bet against it.