A fan since I was a small boy, I have been through the highs and lows of the past 20-plus years at Newcastle United.
But earlier this season, I did not count myself among those calling for Alan Pardew to be sacked and I lay the blame for him wanting out to go to Crystal Palace squarely at their door, despite his strong ties to the south London club.
While I was as disappointed as the next Toon fan when results at the start of this season continued to go as poorly as they did in the first half of 2014, I failed to see how getting rid of Pardew would turn the tide.
The first reason is that the way the club is run seems to not allow the manager to dictate much in terms of which players come into the club.
Some signings have been successful nonetheless, particularly some of the forays into France (Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko et al), while Ayoze Perez has settled in really well, finding form when we won games against Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea. But it remains a fact that you cannot blame a manager exclusively for results if he hasn’t necessarily had the chance to pick the players.
Even if a top manager came in, how long would he stay with his hands tied both in terms of who comes in and how much can be spent? There’s no denying Ashley has sunk money into the club, but salary caps and hunting for transfer bargains in the ‘cheaper’ overseas leagues can only take you so far.
However, my second and main concern, which applies equally now, is that you wonder who is going to take the job? Who is going to come in and really help the club take a step-up and push on up the Premier League?
Does Ashley take the risk and hire a left-field choice, like Frank de Boer, hoping he brings a spark and something different like Pochettino and subsequently Koeman have done at Southampton?
Or does he go with a tried-and-tested Premier League stalwart – Tony Pulis, say, assuming that West Brom haven’t snapped him up already.
In that case, he may make us difficult to beat and ensure survival in the top flight, as he proved most recently with Palace last season, but how long before the same fans that called for Pardew’s head are bemoaning the brand of football being played?
You have to be careful what you wish for sometimes and I sincerely feel that Pardew enjoyed the club and its culture before the recent rocky patch, despite never being a firm fan favourite. There remains a lingering feeling among critics that he is an Ashley yes man, but many an employee in all walks of life has to play nice with their boss to get by.
And he clearly had the respect of the players. Despite the poor results earlier this season and the vocal criticism of Pardew, the team were still playing for the man, demonstrated most obviously when we fought back from behind to earn draws against Hull and Swansea.
I for one will be sad to see him go and I believe there is a significant silent majority who will feel the same way, particularly perhaps after a permanent appointment is made in the coming weeks.