Blame Ashley for Magpies' malaise
Newcastle have shown no ambition under the retail billionaire since he took over in 2007
Alan Pardew is as good as gone.
The Newcastle United manager's future has been subject of intense speculation recently, especially after owner Mike Ashley - who was apparently drunk at the time - joked to a journalist last week that he had one more game to save his job.
The 1-0 defeat by Stoke City yesterday morning (Singapore time) means Pardew is a dead man walking.
There are plenty calling for his head.
Supporters started a social media movement called "Sack Pardew" two weeks ago after a 4-0 rout by Southampton, where they highlight the manager's incompetence on a Twitter account and a slick website chock full of statistics and quotes.
With the Stoke defeat being the 10th in their last 14 Premier League games, they are probably justified in wanting him out.
But would getting rid of him solve Newcastle's problems?
Sacking Pardew - who is set for a hefty pay-off with six years still to go on his contract - is unlikely to turn the tide as long as Ashley is the club's owner.
And, as a club statement released in the wake of the Southampton smacking confirmed, the English billionaire retail entrepreneur will remain at the club's helm until the summer of 2016, at least.
Since the 51-year-old Ashley took over in 2007, Newcastle have shown a startling lack of ambition.
The modus operandi each season is to stay in the Premier League and avoid continental competitions if possible, as that would only represent a distraction and unnecessary spending of money to bolster the squad.
It's shocking even for a club whose last piece of major silverware was the FA Cup in 1955.
Under Ashley, the club were relegated in 2009 but bounced back straight up the following season.
And, apart from an unexpected fifth-placed finish two years ago, he has managed to oversee several seasons of mid-table mediocrity.
Just the way he likes it.
IN THE RUNNING
According to the rumour mill, Tony Pulis and David Moyes are the bookmakers' favourite to take over from Pardew when Ashley decides to swing the axe.
There is also speculation that the Magpies might plump for a French manager in a bid to get the best out of a Francophone squad.
Even club captain, Argentina defender Fabricio Coloccini, has been mooted as a possible temporary boss.
The same Coloccini who angled for a move back to hometown club San Lorenzo last year and openly stated his disappointment that he had to stay put at Newcastle.
This season marks the 10th I've been a Newcastle supporter.
I didn't fall in love with the Magpies when they were actually winning football matches and boasted the likes of Faustino Asprilla and David Ginola.
I was drawn to the team after watching their shambolic 3-0 defeat at home by Aston Villa a decade ago, when Steven Taylor pulled off his infamous "shot by a sniper" stunt after a blatant handball, and Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer were both red-carded for throwing punches at each other in the centre of the pitch.
Maybe I have a sick sense of humour, but I thought it would be fun to support a team who were so entertaining.
Relegation was certainly no fun, though, and over the years, Newcastle fans have seen jokers like Dennis Wise and Joe Kinnear come and go, meddling around the club in dodgy executive positions.
But even the most tolerant supporter is losing faith in the under-achieving club.
Ashley has to start running Newcastle like a proper football club, or sell it to someone who will.
Because what's going on at the club stopped being funny a long time ago.