Before the end of the season, Carver referred to a post mortem that will already be under way. In the context of the Ashley years, 15th place might be seen as a success but as we all know, the difference between relegation and a margin of safety was tight. 

As with any season, we can talk about the ifs, the buts and the maybes. The final league table tells us that has we won one of the games against Sunderland, our nearest and dreariest friends from down the A19 could be playing Championship football next season. As it was, our neighbourly charity, combined with direction from Dick Advocaat saved them. 

Our last relegation in 2009 was similarly a competition between ourselves, Sunderland and Hull, with the lowest of the 3 going into the final day being the one to go down. Ultimately, then the hey result proved to be a draw against Hull, with Howard Webb ruling out a Nolan goal that should have stood. This time, it can be argued to have come down to a 3-0 win against Hull. 

Despite finishing with 5 clubs below, it was a season that many would choose to forget. It started with a run of 7 winless games. It is a long held statistical anomaly that teams rarely move more than 11 places from the position they hold after 3 games. It could be argued tat the writing was already on the wall. 

A flurry of 5 consecutive wins allowed us to dare to dream, suddenly finding ourselves on the fringes of Champions League qualification. The benefit of hindsight shows that 2 of these wins were against newly promoted teams (Leicester and QPR) struggling to find their feet on the Premier League, one of which surged at the end. Spurs and Liverpool were not the same force as in recent years, both failing to challenge the top 4. West Brom were later rescued by Tony Pulis. 

Whilst Perez had slotted into an unfamiliar role, with some success, 2 more wins followed from the next 6 games, Cisse starring from the bench against Chelsea, with both netting in what proved to be Pardew’s last game. 

The second half of the season saw that win against Hull, one more against Villa who finished just one place above the drop zone and finally, that win against a West Ham side in mid table, with a departing manager. 

The squad and transfers
In recent seasons, Newcastle have become known as a selling club. Although transfer activity during the summer saw plenty of new faces come in, it will not be forgotten that the sale of Cabaye, coupled with the boost in TV revenues meant that the coffers were awash, to the tune of £34m+ according to the accounts. The sale of Debuchy provided more. 

Janmaat was a straight replacement for Debuchy, Riviere ostensibly for loanee, Remy. De Jong may have been considered an alternative to Cabaye with Cabella the young French talent earmarked as his successor though in reality, was more used ina Marveaux type role. It was later revealed that Ayoze was intended to be sent out on loan but for injury. Colback added solidity to midfield whilst Ferreyra extra back up in the striking department. 

Pardew described this as his best ever squad. Supporters were prone to disagree, this site being among many to express reservations, particularly after Mbiwa went out on loan with Santon to follow later. 

What we had identified was a shortage of cover in defence, particularly with the injury prone Steve Taylor. The other reservation was up front, Cisse who was returning from injury the only player in the squad to have reached double figures in Premier League goals. Elliott was the only senior back up keeper. 

The club may look back and blame injuries. A large proportion of absences were foreseeable, given returns from problems over the last couple of seasons, Raylor, Jonas, Cisse whilst suspensions for 7 red cards and a spitting incident further depleted numbers through ill discipline. 

As it turned out, supporters’ concerns proved to be with foundation. Jak Alnwick had too much to do in stepping up to the Premier League. Defences were often makeshift after Taylor was injured with Coloccini and Williamson later suspended. 

Cisse started 11 games, scoring 11 goals, Ferrerya never played, de Jong showed why his price appeared to be a bargain whilst Riviere came the Premier league’s most expensive spectator, despite finally emulating World Cup winner, Guivar’ch to reach the grand total of 1 league goal for us. 

If supporters had been listened to, perhaps an autopsy would not be needed. 

The season split evenly between Pardew who was in charge for the first 19 games, Carver for the final 19. Considering Pardew rated this squad as his best ever, the start was slow, an excuse being available that new players had to be integrated. Frankly, this excuse was blown apart with the 4-0 defeat at Southampton whose manager, new to the league, performed well. 

Pardew’s side were predictable, based on 2 defending midfielders and counter attacking through the4 long ball and at pace out wide. There were times that it worked, when Ayoze was a surprise package, Cisse available and 2 natural wingers were deployed. 

Carver similarly expressed satisfaction with the squad, promoting Academy coach Dave Watson to organise defence. The unit became more narrow but the lack of depth to afford rotation, combined with Carver’s open criticism, may have led to the low morale and effort that was evident on the pitch. A solitary point in a 10 game run highlights the problems. 

The decision not to seek a managerial replacement with experience comes firmly down to Lee Charnley, whether or not he was acting under the direction of Ashley himself. Other clubs did, with some success, Sherwood, Advocaat, Pulis and even Pardew leading their clubs up the table. 

Charnley’s dithering was not only evident in the managerial appointment but at the end of the season too, when the Fans’ Forum meeting that was to be brought forward never happened. 

Ashley may now have a profitable club but this has been at the cost of net disinvestment in the playing squad whilst other clubs have sought to consolidate and guarantee the enormous TV income. Meanwhile, Newcastle’s wage bill is broadly similar to 2009 levels, unique in the Premier League. 

The big positive of the season was that there were clubs worse than our own over 38 games. QPR lost a charismatic manager and were laden with problems from recruitment policy in previous years, Burnley maintained a low budget and Hull, managed by Steve Bruce. 

In his sole TV interview, Ashley was correct that blame can be laid at his door. He has been responsible for profiteering, ultimately he is responsible for the appointment of a Managing Director who has appeared either to be indecisive or lacking the ability to follow through on actions. 

It is clear that the playing squad needs investment and strong managerial guidance, able to take on the innovative foreign managers at the top of the league. 

The lessons are there, will they be acted upon?