Martin Jol should not worry about the gulf in class that Luis Suárez demonstrated between Liverpool and Fulham. That was predictable. Nor should he lose sleep over the gulf in confidence that Suárez typified at Anfield. That was understandable. He should be aghast, however, at the gulf in endeavour that existed between the Liverpool striker and a team fighting for their manager's future on Saturday. That was unforgivable.
Suárez took his season's tally to eight in six games and should have registered a second Anfield hat-trick in succession as Fulham suffered a fourth consecutive defeat that increased the pressure on Jol. Better teams than Fulham have suffered against the outstanding Uruguay international but few will offer such meagre resistance. If there really are six or seven worse teams in the Premier League, as their beleaguered manager insists, Liverpool have not encountered them.
It was shortly before half-time, and Liverpool had the game won at 3-0, when Suárez offered another example of the insatiable appetite that was absent throughout the visiting ranks. The Liverpool striker lost possession to Scott Parker 25 yards from the Fulham goal. Seconds later he was there to collect Parker's loose pass on the edge of the Liverpool area having sprinted back to assist his defence. The contrast with the Fulham performance was glaring.
"That's exactly what we spoke about before the game, matching Suárez's commitment," said Jol, who continued to insist Fulham would not be cut adrift under his leadership after the game. "He has got that eagerness and that ambition and he will use everything, even his teeth, to win and that's what he is doing for Liverpool. He brings that commitment to every game and we spoke about matching that before kick off." Spoke about but never accomplished.
If there was misfortune for Fulham in Liverpool's opening goal, when Steven Gerrard's free-kick hit the head of Suárez and Daniel Agger before diverting in off Fernando Amorebieta, there was evidence only of their spiritless, defeatist performance in the three that followed. Gerrard was involved in all four. Three minutes after his own goal Amorebieta switched off as Martin Skrtel glided past to head home the Liverpool captain's corner. Dimitar Berbatov put his hands in the air when nutmegged by Gerrard near the technical area. They were still aloft when the tireless Jordan Henderson sliced open the Fulham defence for Suárez to convert. Finally the ambling Kieran Richardson was dispossessed by Henderson, Gerrard poked the ball on to Suárez and the otherwise impressive Maarten Stekelenburg offered the ruthless striker his near corner.
"What is nice now is that Liverpool are in the conversation," said Brendan Rodgers, when told of Jol's opinion that he does not expect Fulham to take points at Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. "It was never, ever talked about but our performance and our consistency is making people sit up and take notice. Maybe people are saying: 'They are a decent side.' And we are getting better. I do feel for Martin. It is a tough job at this level here. They have had some decent results against some good teams but here they came up against a team having a real good performance. He is right. He shouldn't be judged on playing against Liverpool at Anfield. We are playing very well."
The only positives for Fulham were that they drained the threat from Liverpool's performance until Amorebieta's own-goal in the 23rd minute and ultimately avoided a rout. Otherwise they offered nothing. Belief, already fragile, evaporated the moment Liverpool took the lead, leaving Jol to lament: "Not very long ago we played Crystal Palace and won 4-1 and then, five days later against Southampton, it was totally different. It is about having that quality as well as belief. Sometimes off the ball, for example, we need to be tougher and more aggressive."
Fulham's manager embodied those qualities not so long ago. At Anfield he rarely appeared on the touchline. When it was all over Jol told his assistant, Billy McKinlay, to send the players towards the suffering travelling supporters and promptly disappeared down the tunnel.
Man of the match: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)