When you are still in the race for a league title, the pressure is of course on. At this late stage of the season, with a single point deficit and an away day to consider, one could be forgiven for feeling a little added pressure on your day job. When you are Liverpool, with the weight of the expectations of millions of fans across the globe resting heavily on your shoulders and facing an uphill battle to reclaim the crown once so familiar, an away day at Newcastle United is one of the last things you would fancy. That is not a knock on Newcastle at all, of course – but with such a rich history of clashes between the two sides, and with reining champions Man City watching on with interest, anyone connected with the Reds could be forgiven for feeling somewhat pressured.
Back in 2007, Newcastle United were about to embark on a journey of change. Long-standing owners Freddy Shepherd and Sir John Hall agreed to sell their respective stakes in the Magpies to Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, in a move which many fans saw as a positive one at the time. Ashley brought with him a vast fortune which could rival some of the richest clubs in Europe – maybe there was hope for the Toon Army that they could be seeing their heroes battling for honours near the top of the Premier League after all? That hope was offered yet more fuel when Ashley dispensed of the services of Sam Allardyce – who had been largely unpopular with the faithful on Tyneside – and replaced him with club legend Kevin Keegan, who had helmed their previous closest run for the title in the late 1990s.