Andy Carroll's Newcastle return wasn't supposed to go down this way. The local boy was expecting to power his new team to victory, and even pledged not to celebrate if, an when, he scored against his former club.
But Newcastle fans are no longer pining for Carroll. They gave the Liverpool striker a hostile reception at the Sports Direct Arena.
Their praise was reserved for their new hero, Papiss Demba Cisse. And they did not hold back any adulation for the Senegalese star. His two-goal act lead Newcastle to victory, and consigned Carroll and Liverpool to further Premier League misery.
Cisse joined the Magpies from SC Freiburg in January. The £9 million ($14.4 million) transfer fee is starting to look like a bargain-basement steal. Since moving to English soccer, Cisse has scored an impressive seven goals in seven games, and Newcastle will almost certainly be playing in Europe next season thanks to his contributions.
Cisse's command of the English language is nowhere close to his dominance around the goal. But his new club is making sure he feels at home in the Northeast of England. The Mirror reports Newcastle held "Africa Day" at practice on Friday, serving a menu full of continental delights that its new number nine thoroughly enjoyed.
"It was Cisse's best performance yet for us," Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said. "We all had curried goat on Friday and delicious it was too. It was Africa Day and we enjoyed it. The curry helped!"
"… from our side of the coin we have Cisse and long may his form continue."
Cisse and his compatriot Demba Ba have ensured that Newcastle fans forget about Carroll's heroics. The former Geordie hero scored 33 goals in 91 games for his hometown club. He joined LFC for a club-record £35 million ($56 million) in January 2011. His current goal haul — eight in 48 games — reflect his struggles to adapt to a new club and new style of play.
Carroll's frustrating afternoon saw him booked for diving, jeered by his former fans and finally substituted by LFC boss Kenny Dalglish. When his number appeared on the fourth-official's board, he reportedly responded with a foul-mouth tirade. He stormed off the field and headed straight for the LFC dressing room, according to the Mirror.
"Also when Andy came off and went up the tunnel, he was disappointed with the way the game was going, not necessarily for himself, but for the team, and the frustration took him up into the dressing room," Dalglish said.
"We don't have a problem with people showing their desperation or disappointment or frustration, but we need to channel it better than we have done."
"Andy Carroll Day" never really happened on Saturday. Like anything in this game, so much has changed since Carroll became a Red. The stadium formerly known as St. James' Park is now called Sports Direct Arena. Newcastle's African forwards have replaced Carroll's cult hero status at that venue. Roars of approval have turned into mocking jeers. Such is soccer. Such is life.
Review all the action from Sunday's game in our Liverpool Live Blog.
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