Neil Humphreys: Liverpool are losing the plot after the high of last season
(Ayoze Perez 73)
Premier League challengers do not fall this fast.
Early season wobbles are commonplace, but this is calamitous.
Injuries are to be expected, but those picked to play are pedestrian and uninspired.
Liverpool lost the winning habit a long time ago, but they are now at risk of losing that loving feeling among their disillusioned supporters.
Brendan Rodgers' Reds earned respect last season with a campaign blessed with invention, pace and attacking vigour. The manager wooed neutrals and won over sceptics. It was a fine romance.
But this, quite frankly, is rather rubbish.
There is no pleasure to be derived from the steady demise of a club committed to the Beautiful Game in every sense, but Liverpool are out of ideas and maybe, just maybe, increasingly out of time.
The trip to St James' Park represented the most comfortable fixture in a triple header that also includes Real Madrid and Chelsea in the coming days.
This is as easy as it's going to get for Liverpool and yet they were second best across the pitch and in the dugout.
Anfield diehards must be increasingly convinced that last season was a dream, a figment of their imagination led by a mythical cannibal from Uruguay.
Last night, the Reds were awful in the first half and distinctly average in the second.
Newcastle were little better, but they weren't fluttering around the league summit until the final day of last season.
Liverpool lost the battle to keep Luis Suarez, but are steadily losing the war to win the hearts and minds of their support base.
Before the trip to St James' Park, they were stuck in the wilderness of uncertainty, drifting along after one dodgy dugout decision and team selection after another.
Rodgers' erratic thought process in recent weeks was neatly encapsulated by the Liverpool line-up and their unconvincing play. They no longer appear to believe in each other or the system.
What began as a standard 4-3-3 swiftly gave way to a strange 3-5-1-1, perhaps taking Newcastle's lack of cutting edge in the final third into consideration.
But Philippe Coutinho didn't so much play in the hole as he fell in it, vanishing soon after kick off. The Brazilian is too slight and inconsistent to dictate proceedings in the No. 10 role without adequate support.
He failed to connect Liverpool's forlorn five in central midfield with Mario Balotelli. The Italian touched the ball 11 times in the first half, the lowest number on the pitch.
Apart from fouling a Newcastle defender, he offered nothing, not an attacking outlet, a figurehead, a dynamic link to midfield, an aerial target, nothing.
Raheem Sterling was a passenger, all fired up with nowhere to blow. He rarely saw the ball.
Steven Gerrard missed more tackles than he won, which doubled the workload of the harassed Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen against the impressive Jack Colback.
And in goal, Simon Mignolet, bereft of confidence, missed a couple of crosses entirely, including a corner in the 36th minute. Papiss Cisse hooked the ball goalwards, but Glen Johnson cleared off the line.
Newcastle are a side in transition, slowly blending the attacking experience of Moussa Sissoko with the youthful promise of local boy Sammy Ameobi, who couldn't have terrorised Johnson anymore if he'd turned up wearing a Halloween pumpkin.
And, in the end, the inevitable happened.
Newcastle magnified Liverpool's malaise with a scruffy goal to silence any remaining talk about a Rodgers revolution.
In the 73rd minute, Johnson failed again to track his man and the ball ended up at the feet of Sissoko. His pass was under-hit, but it deflected off the daydreaming Alberto Moreno and into the path off supersub Ayoze Perez, who lashed home from six metres.
Only the big toe of Mignolet stopped substitute Remy Cabella from doubling the lead on the counter-attack moments later.
Rodgers' substitutions revealed his growing desperation. Balotelli started alone. Then he was partnered alongside Fabio Borini. Then he found Rickie Lambert alongside him. Nothing worked.
Liverpool have two burly strikers who do not fit the system their manager insists on, a playmaker who isn't making play, a skipper stuck in reverse and a jittery goalkeeper.
What does any of that have to do with Suarez's departure and Daniel Sturridge's injury?
Rodgers will inevitably find excuses for the defeat and another insipid display.
But in all honesty, Liverpool fans must be wondering if he has any left.
Taylor: Magpies' belief is back
Newcastle captain Steven Taylor hailed the confidence within the Newcastle squad after they claimed their fourth win in a row with a 1-0 victory over Liverpool.
Ayoze Perez scored the only goal in the second half as the Magpies continued their recent resurgence and Taylor believes his teammates are at last getting the rewards for their recent efforts.
"The belief is back now and that's what we needed," he told BT Sport 1. "I think we showed today what we're all about and we caught them on the counter attack many times.
Manager Alan Pardew (above left, with Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers) has come in for much criticism from the Newcastle fans and Taylor is delighted to see his boss turning things around.
"It was a great atmosphere today," he said. "Everybody is fully behind him and the main thing is, we keep winning and everybody is happy."
Pardew believes that criticism is just part of the experience of managing in such a footballing hotbed.
"This is Newcastle and you have to take note that there are real highs," he said. "I think Bobby Robson said the highs are massive here and the lows are equally as low.
"He needed a tin hat at times, I need a tin hat at times but when the good times come this is as good a city to be in as any."
The Reds have claimed just 14 points from their 10 games after finishing second in the league last season and Rodgers admits he can understand why supporters may be becoming frustrated.
"The progress this season is; we're going to be a slow process because there was so many changes," he said.
"We didn't create enough. We had enough of the ball, we had enough of the possession, found it in good areas, we just didn't create enough in the final third and then we gave away a very bad goal to lose the game 1-0." - PA Sport.