Newcastle fans could be forgiven expectations of an extravagant summer given circulating rumours that told of a brimming transfer war chest for the coach to take the reins from feckless rudderman John Carver.
Steve McClaren has succeeded the Magpies ousted former assistant who came within a whisker of overseeing one of the biggest capitulations in Premier League history last time around, but he has spent the bulk of his first weeks on the job conducting fitness drills as opposed to finalising transfers.
Feyenoord conjurer Georginho Wijnaldum is the only player they’ve been able to lure to the north east thus far, though it is believed the Dutchman could soon be joined by Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Charlie Austin and Stewart Downing are among the multitude of other names the gossip columns have linked with St James’ Park switches, but the lack of action in the north east indicative of the fact that their need for new faces isn’t as prevalent as some might suggest.
Like all teams, one or two recruits are essential in order to inject some freshness into the squad if nothing else, but the Newcastle contingent that finished the previous campaign are, on the whole, capable of landing a respectable finish in the top flight.
Such a statement may seem a little foolish on the surface, with 12 Premier League losses from 18 fixtures to close the previous campaign still fresh in the memory.
But blame for this disastrous, indeed, almost fatal run of form can be laid at the feet of Carver or, more specifically, those who took the cost-effective, if not hare-brained course of action to allow him to run the club.
Clearly unfit for top-tier management, as outlined in his press conferences, touchline demeanour and tactical gaffes, he took a side capable of making a Swansea-like surge into Europa League contention to the brink of relegation.
He did so using the same players that ended Chelsea’s undefeated streak before Christmas, when the Blues were looking so good there were more than a few suggestions they could see out the season without loss.
They won at Tottenham, as well as Manchester City in the Capital One Cup, while positive pre-Yuletide results were also recorded at tricky venues such as Swansea and West Brom.
Commendable efforts such as these cannot be achieved with a squad unfit to compete with the elite.
In Ayoze Perez and Papiss Cisse, they two reliable sources of goals up front, whereas midfielders Moussa Sissoko, Jack Colback and Yoan Gouffran can be trusted to share the net bulging burden.
Cheick Tiote. one of the finest defensive screens in the top flight, was barely used last time around, while Tim Krul endured the first inconsistent campaign of his career.
It’s safe to assume that, if entrusted to do so, this pair can rediscover their former levels of performance so, coupled with the injection of Wijnaldum’s creativity, this leaves the back four as the only area in dire need of renovation.
But addressing this situation may not be as pressing as it seems, for McClaren proved in his first few seasons coaching Newcastle’s neighbours Middlesbrough that he knows how to build a disciplined defensive unit that can enable a team to play beyond their means.
With his pedigree and record of success, the Magpies are in dependable hands, more than enough cause to quell any fears of demotion, a sentiment echoed in the fact they’re a sizeable 5/1 for the drop.