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This should have been a summer of positivity at Newcastle United. Nine players signed, including three internationals in Siem de Jong, Daryl Janmaat and Remy Cabella, and a commitment to creating an English core with the double purchase of Jamaal Lascelles and Karl Darlow from Nottingham Forest. A corner may not yet have been turned, but many estimated that it was at least in sight.
By the end of deadline day, however, the blanket of negativity had returned to cover large swathes of Newcastle's support. The final days of the transfer window had seen no arrivals at St James' Park, but Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa had moved to Roma on loan, leaving the waning Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Steven Taylor as the club's only first-team central defenders.
It was the departure of Hatem Ben Arfa to Hull that provided the most ammunition for Newcastle supporters falling ever out of patience, if not love, with their club. His farewell, for them, epitomises both the embracing of mediocrity and that manager Alan Pardew is lacking in sufficient ability to motivate and inspire. His time, they insist, is up.
Ben Arfa himself must shoulder some of the responsibility for his perceived lack of professionalism at Newcastle, but there is a clear feeling amongst fans that, under a different manager with different methods of man-management, the Frenchman will flourish. He is a player that both needs to feel loved and is easy to love, capable of the moments that fans most remember, the magical and the mesmeric. Following David Ginola and Laurent Robert in the line of luxury French midfielders with a cult following on Tyneside, supporters view his exit as the latest step towards an acceptance of tedium.
Pardew's insistence on ridding the club of Ben Arfa was clear, the club spending the last few hours of the window finding him a new home. The winger had been restricted to second-string friendlies, and accusations over a lack of fitness and weight problems were made public. Perhaps Pardew is just a better judge of unprofessionalism than most, having been censured for headbutting Hull City's David Meyler just two months after calling Manuel Pellegrini a "f**king old c***".
One thing is clear: If supporters had grown weary of Pardew's continued employment before, they sure have now.
In many ways, much of fans' ire at the club's manager is an extension (or even redirection) of their frustrations with owner Mike Ashley, who remains unmoved despite being the continued recipient of their vitriol. Notwithstanding the club's summer spending, Pardew was merely reinvesting the proceeds of deals to sell Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy, the increased television revenue seemingly remaining unspent. Pardew has also been forced to deal with the appointment of Joe Kinnear, suffered an enforced restriction on his media presence and had to act as a front for the club over the sponsorship agreement with loan company Wonga. It hasn't been easy.
However, this is a manager that has become irrevocably synonymous with the mindset of the supposed 'Cockney mafia', an accused apathy on the part of those with little affiliation or connection with Newcastle United that threatens to forge a divide between a city and its social institution.
If the accusation that Pardew is an unambitious manager would be refuted by the man himself, recent evidence acts as a prosecution rather than defence. "It fills me with dread," was Pardew's assessment of Europa League qualification in February, when Newcastle sat six points from the top six, eventually falling away to finish tenth.
Pardew also made his opinions on the cup competitions clear last month: "Perhaps we at board level say what other boards don't say - that the Premier League is the be all and end all because of the TV money."
Such a statement rather grates against comments he recently made about Newcastle's hopes for the Premier League season. "The average for this club over the last 10 years is 48 points," he said. "If we get that or anything above that it will be a good season for us." That total is one less than they attained last season, and 17 fewer than in 2011/12. Is realism not being confused with a paucity of ambition?
Pardew's propensity to place all of his eggs in the Premier League basket also fails to help his case for continued employment, given his side's recent fortunes. Since Boxing Day 2013, Newcastle have played 23 league matches, taking just 18 points - they have lost 65% of those games. Worse still is the record of 17 goals, and 13 of those were scored in just four games. In 2014, Newcastle have failed to score in 64% of their league games.
The most Premier League defeats in one season by a Newcastle side. The first Newcastle manager to lose five consecutive Premier League games. The club's worst home defeat for 87 years. Consecutive 3-0 home defeats to Sunderland. It has been a run of monotony and misery.
'Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has two games to save his job at St James' Park,' reads the headline in the Independent on Wednesday. If and when the axe does fall, there will be fewer tears than Alan Pardew would like shed on Tyneside. "Alan Pardew, it's never your fault" has been the sarcastic chant from the Gallowgate End for the last six months.
Daniel Storey - Follow him on Twitter