The old season is over the new one is soon to be upon us. The new manager is rumoured to be appointed next weak. What are the challenges and how can they be overcome? 

We are one of many forums to have fed advice back to the powers that be at St James’ Park. Warning signs have been identified strategies proposed and then been ignored by the club. Unsurprisingly, avoiding relegation became a close run thing. 

We all expect Steve McClaren to be appointed next week. What is not co certain is whether the coaching team will either be retained or choose to move on. Much depends on whether Carver will carry on as number 2, McClaren’s right hand man. 

Carver and McClaren have much in common. They were schooled a relatively short distance apart, down the A19. They may well have played each other in September 1985 when McClaren’s Derby completed the first leg of a double against Carver’s Cardiff, in the old 3rd Division. 

As assistants to two of the truly great British managers, Sir Bobby and Sir Alex, they have confronted each other from the dugout. Both had horribly similar records at the end of last season. Both completed their Pro Licences together in 2004. 

One of the key tasks will be to reshape the squad. It would only be natural for McClaren to listen to the advice of his old friend and adversary. Therein is one of the problems. 

Looking back at recent seasons, Carver was also close to Pardew. As such he was complicit in shaping the careers of a large proportion of the players, some of who were denied the opportunity to gain form at club level, thereby missing out on the Brazil World Cup. 

Some of the talent in the squad may not be given a favourable chance, think for example of Abeid, who had played a major part in helping Panathiaikos to cup glory and securing a Champions League place before making a mere 4 league starts under Carver. Will the blind be leading the blind? 

Last season saw us finish within a whisker of the relegation zone, with a squad consisting of several players close to the end of their contracts. Some have already been released. McClaren’s history in the Premier League is not fantastic, with finishes of 12th, 11th, 11th again, 7th and 14th, remarkably similar to Pardew’s achievements here. 

Under Ashley, there has been a net disinvestment in the squad. In the meantime, other clubs in the Premier League have strengthened, accounting partly for our relative decline. One of the first things to consider is how to stay safely in the Premier League. 

The first teams we would look to finish ahead of are the 3 promoted clubs. Last season, McClaren was outwitted by Eddie Howe’s, only able to take 1 point off Bournemouth and 2 off Norwich. Watford are a different proposition, their owner having 3 top flight clubs in Europe and able to divert resources from Italy and Spain to the most lucrative league. We have to look at other clubs to finish above. 

Chelsea aside, those we beat last year were in poor runs of form, even Spurs and Liverpool. The teams below us and not relegated have already improved, Sunderland through securing Dick Advocaat, Villa even making a cup final with Sherwood. 

Other teams we beat, have also progressed. Leicester found their feet at the end of the season, West Ham will be losing Allardyce, West Brom have Pulis whilost Everton will not be encumbered by a Europa League campaign. 

This time, more than ever in Ashley’s ownership, the pressure is on to invest and improve more than the clubs around us. We have already considered the available budget here. 

There is a need to strengthen which has been much repeated by supporters across Tyneside. Of last season’s Premier League survivors, Newcastle defence was the most porous, leaking 63 goals, 10 more than our nearest rivals. As well as Lascelles, we need to improve quality in the centre and cover on both flanks. Dave watson’s defensive coaching was not up to standard. 

Midfield needs a more creative element. Up front we need more depth. It may even be that we need to replace Cisse if he is courting the next suitor for his services, after all, the club was reported to be trying to offload him before his injury. 

With just a few weeks to go before pre-season training, 2 months until the start of the season, there remain some uncertainties. The squad needs overhaul, the coaching staff may or may not provide continuity, from a base of abject failure. It would be sensible to add depth from outside the club. 

All of the above amounts to speed being of the essence. The uncommunicative and, to outside appearances at least, dithering Lee Charnley, have much to do in a little time. He couldn’t identify a permanent manager in January, he couldn’t organise a Fans’ Forum meeting before the end of the season. He, too, has much to prove. 

At the moment, given Ashley’s reluctance to invest hitherto, a non-performing MD and a manager with a mediocre league record, at least in the Premier League, Championship and Bundesliga, with a squad short on quality, there seems little motivation for anyone to buy a season ticket, unless they are a committed masochist. 

Actions are louder than words, especially those uttered by Ashley who has a track record of penny pinching. Most importantly, there is a need to act quickly.