Back in May, Sam Allardyce did his best to inject a dose of reality amongst the usual promises of short to mid-term glory which are made at managerial unveilings these days.
He had spoken at length about the obvious potential of his new club Newcastle - - the great stadium, the passionate fans and so on, but added by way of a disclaimer: “I’m not saying I can get it right at the flick of a switch. If there are some sticky times I hope we can get over them for the best of the supporters and me.”
Well, the switch has flicked in the heads of the Toon Army foot soldiers, and times have got decidedly sticky.
After a poor start, Allardyce is supposedly one game away from the sack just seven months into what he pitched as a five-year plan to bring the level of success a club with the stature of Newcastle should justifiably expect.
If reports are to be believed, Magpies hero Alan Shearer is being lined up as his successor – despite possessing no managerial experience – and club owner Mike Ashley is said to be preparing to shell out an eight-figure sum in severance pay for Allardyce and his large back-room team.
It is to be hoped those reports are wide of the mark.
More often than not, success in football is borne out of stability. Newcastle would not recognise stability if it came up and slapped them in the face.
The club have chopped and changed so much that there is no coherent structure and no sense of security for players or the men drafted in to manage them.
Previous chairman Freddy Shepherd surely takes the blame for the past problems, the question now is whether Ashley proves himself to be the better man.
He could hide behind the excuse that Allardyce was not his appointment - Shepherd was still chairman when ’Big Sam’ came in – but by not sacking him immediately upon taking over he was giving his tacit approval to the former Bolton boss.
Clubs right in the relegation mix can perhaps justify the short-term approach to hiring and firing managers, given the vast difference in income between success and failure.
But if any club is in a position to take a more long-term view it is Newcastle. There is too much dross beneath them for them to fear being dragged into a relegation scrap, so there is no cause for panic. Getting on a par with teams such as Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa is a realistic goal, but it will take time.
Allardyce has had less money to spend and worse luck with injuries than City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, and less time to shape the team the way he wants to than David Moyes and Martin O’Neill.
Sack Allardyce and yet again Newcastle are back to square one, which is perhaps what their impatient fans deserve.
He needs to be given at least one full season, and realistically two, to even begin to make his presence felt.