Pardew makes the perfect start
St James' Park
Alan Pardew's welcome to Newcastle United was one of polite indifference as opposed to naked hostility - apart from when one irate fan craned his neck towards the new manager and shouted: "Sort it out Curbishley."
Pardew might have embraced this case of mistaken identity had he concluded another tempestuous week on Tyneside with defeat in his first game against Liverpool after stepping in to succeed the sacked, hugely popular Chris Hughton.
Instead, as Newcastle's fans celebrated a deserved 3-1 win in the traditional watering holes of The Strawberry and Shearer's Bar, Pardew left St. James' Park a much happier place than he had found it when he arrived hours earlier.
Mike Ashley's decision to dismiss Hughton and replace him with Pardew persuaded hundreds of Newcastle supporters to gather underneath The Milburn Stand hours before kick-off. They registered noisy disapproval of the owner and support for the manager they feel has suffered a grave injustice.
And as Pardew slipped into his technical area almost unnoticed, banners were stretched across The Gallowgate End declaring thanks to Hughton for his work in taking Newcastle back into the Premier League and assembling the squad, not to mention the spirit, that was ultimately too much for a desperately disappointing Liverpool.
Even in victory, Newcastle's fans cut their celebrations short to deliver another colourful blast in Ashley's direction - but in between those early protests near Barrack Road and that final show of dissent, there was a performance that at least lifted a measure of the discontent that is clearly felt on Tyneside.
Pardew can hardly be blamed for accepting the manager's job at a club that can still pull in 50,000 fans even when there is a mood of mutiny in the air. And he played it pretty much to perfection on and off the pitch.
Is an out-of-work manager going to turn down the chance to take charge of a Premier League club simply because the previous incumbent has been cruelly dispensed with? Not likely - and not too many of Pardew's peers have form for that sort of behaviour.
He realised there was no appetite for the big introductions after the rancour provoked by Hughton's departure, duly keeping under the radar for much of the evening and offering brief applause at the final whistle.
Pardew told BBC Sport: "I was never going to go out into the middle of the pitch clapping the fans. They don't trust or know what I can do, but I have got faith in my ability as a manager and with this group of players, and the response I have had, this was very positive."
He required some good news fast once the action got under way, and Kevin Nolan provided it with an early goal. And even though Newcastle wobbled briefly after Dirk Kuyt's equaliser, they recovered to seal a well-merited win with late goals from Joey Barton and Andy Carroll.
And for someone who has been accused of not showing any feel for Newcastle or their supporters, the elation on Ashley's face as he was hugged by associates after the goals may also have contained a liberal sprinkling of relief.
Newcastle's supporters, having vented their feelings, delivered the usual support to their team. They did not appear to hold any obvious grudge against Pardew - and to win in such an impressive manner will at least help to give some foundations to a fragile relationship.
He was also at pains not to take too much credit for the three points, recognising emotions are still raw on and off the pitch about Hughton's replacement, as proved when Barton publicly dedicated his man-of-the-match awared to the departed former manager.
Pardew, his voice croaky from attempting to get his message across to the men he has inherited, said: "A lot of the good stuff that went on today has been going on all year.
"There has been disappointment about the events of this week, which is understandable because Chris Hughton is a gentleman and he has done lots of good work, but ultimately they don't support me or individual players they support the shirt."
He added: "Chris Hughton is very, very unfortunate not to be sitting here discussing this win but this game is not easy and can be cruel. I had a very similar issue at Southampton."
This only makes Ashley's decision to change manager even more mystifying, but this is not Pardew's problem and he has plenty of raw material to work with.
And in Barton, the star of the show, he has a player who can be a huge influence if he can subdue the dark side of his personality that has dogged his career. For all the accusations levelled at the Merseysider, he has never been called a bad player and he was outstanding.
Carroll is another who has had well-chronicled off-field issues, but he terrorised Liverpool's defence (which admittedly did not take much terrorising) and is one asset Ashley dare not dispense with.
It is only a start for Pardew, but the one he must have had in his mind as he put his hastily-assembled plans in place for Liverpool.
As for Liverpool, the travel sickness that afflicts them the moment the team coach pulls on to the M62 continues. Manager Roy Hodgson has rarely looked angrier in a horribly mixed first season in charge, a campaign full of false starts.
Kuyt's goal should have been the signal for Liverpool to play on Newcastle's nerves, to take advantage of the turmoil to be found if they scratched beneath the surface. Instead, one glaring Fernando Torres chance apart, it was Newcastle who demonstrated the endeavour and desire to go on and win.
Barton's goal was testimony to his persistence but a crime against basic defending, while Carroll's admirable finish was assisted by Liverpool standing acres away from the danger.
History tells us that chaos is always around the corner at Newcastle United - but as Pardew made his way out of St. James' Park a measure of normality had been restored after the latest madcap week on Tyneside.
For how long? Who can even guess?