What a difference a month makes.
Yes, it’s a platitude, but when it comes to Alan Pardew, it’s also appropriate.
The Newcastle manager was staring down the barrel when his side lost to Stoke City at the end of September. If Mike Ashley worried more about the pitch fortunes instead of Newcastle’s bank balance, Pardew might have lost his job.
Instead, the unperturbed Magpies boss oversaw a mini-charge up the league table, before cutting apart Manchester City in the League Cup earlier this week.
Win this Saturday, and Newcastle will only be a point behind Liverpool, a remarkable fact given how bleak the outlook was at the start of the season.
Perhaps it betrays how hard-going it has been for Liverpool since Luis Suarez left and Daniel Sturridge was lost to injury.
Mario Balotelli’s profile will always leave him open to criticism, but Liverpool’s defensive signings this summer are arguably just as culpable for the slip in performance.
Balotelli did make an impact off the bench during Liverpool’s League Cup win, but Brendan Rodgers desperately needs him to improve on his scoring record of one goal in 23 Premier League matches.
Pardew meanwhile suddenly looks like he know exactly what he is doing, with youth prospects proving their mettle in against almost the best Manchester City has to offer. Whether by accident or design, the Magpies are taking flight, something the Liver Bird has failed to do this season.