Unable to don his Newcastle jersey and swill watered down lager on the St James’ Park terraces during the international break, Magpies chairman Mike Ashley has used the Premier League down time productively.
The discount sports goods vendor has been sharpening his axe over the past two weeks, ready to swing it at his much-maligned manager, Alan Pardew, should he fail to mastermind at least one victory from the club’s next two fixtures.
Southampton and Hull are the two adversaries holding the silver-haired stick of dynamite’s destiny in their hands, with the former up next for the Toon at St Mary’s this weekend.
Enormous match-betting odds of 18/5 say Pardiola will probably have to hang on until the Tigers are in town to get his reprieve, with the Saints 4/5 favourites for the laurels.
But even if a big fat bagel remains in Newcastle’s win column following these next two sojourns, they shouldn’t bin their boss – here’s why:
Their patched up squad is teeming with new arrivals who must acclimatise to one another’s game.
Exciting additions such as Remy Cabella have undoubted quality and will come good during their Tyneside tenures.
The club forked out £37.9m on eight new players in total, yet there would be little mileage in firing the manager who signed them all a matter of weeks after the transfer deadline’s passing, running the risk of his replacement not wanting them and demanding a second splurge in the market.
A haul of two points from their opening three fixtures is far from horrendous.
There’s no shame in being toppled by Manchester City for a club of Newcastle’s stature and no supporter of sound mind would’ve expected any different.
A draw and a clean sheet away at Aston Villa is respectable, while those who score three goals at home to Crystal Palace and don’t win this campaign will be part of an exclusive club come May.
In terms of league finishes, Pardew’s stats can’t be questioned.
Three full seasons at the Magpies helm have yielded two top-half finishes, one of them as high as fifth.
For a team that was exiled to the Championship for a year in 2009/10, it’s difficult to envisage even the best manager to ever grace a dugout recording better figures than this.