Alan Pardew may be under contract for eight years, but that doesn't stop the discussion over his future.
Stability counts for nothing if the person in charge isn't up to the job. Newcastle United are without an away win this year and find themselves on the brink of a relegation battle. A quick search on Twitter for “#PardewOut” reveals that many people are turning on the manger who brought European football to Tyneside and was named Manager of the Year.
The most important factor in this equation is Mike Ashley. Notoriously sure of himself, it will be a blow to his ego to admit that handing out an eight-year contract to Pardew was a mistake. Ashley himself must be ruing the failure to bring in more players over the summer, which has been exacerbated by a surfeit of injuries that exposed the fragility of the squad.
Nevertheless, the blame always comes back to the manager. Why are Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse playing together in a 4-4-2 that doesn't suit them? Why is Jonas Gutierrez starting every week when Sylvain Marveaux looks to offer more? Why have the tactics consisted of hammering the ball up the pitch in the vain hope that someone gets on the end of it?
All of these questions remain unanswered, and the fixture list for the Toon won't ease the pressure on the manager going into the New Year.
Following Saturday's home defeat to Manchester City, Newcastle are at home to QPR in their next fixture. Those three points are a must, as what follows are two away matches at Manchester United and Arsenal, followed by a home game against Everton.
The Everton game will be the 21st tilt of the year, and the team currently sits on 17 points. They will look for a minimum of five points from those upcoming fixtures in order to stay clear of the relegation scrap.
Any less than that and there will be serious pressure on an already burdened manager. However, even if Pardew was to be sacked, who would replace him? It's all very well wanting someone out, but without a plan to follow it up, it's meaningless.
The following five pages offer examples of managers who could succeed under these very difficult circumstances.
Michael Laudrup has been successful at Swansea, which makes him a target for bigger clubs.
After a playing career that shined, Laudrup showed immense managerial promise when he took charge of Brondby, then moving on to Getafe. Although his subsequent move to Spartak Moscow was disappointing, he proved that his initial success wasn't a fluke when he returned to Spain and took charge of Mallorca.
Laudrup's recent results with Swansea have drawn attention to his prowess as a manager and this will inevitably link him with bigger clubs.
Although their league position would suggest otherwise, Newcastle would constitute a step up in Laudrup's career. He has already shown that he can get the best out of limited resources, which is essential under Ashley's reign.
That's not to say that it would be easy, though. While at Mallorca, Laudrup resigned after becoming incredibly frustrated with the Director of Football, Lorenzo Serra Ferrer.
Since Kevin Keegan resigned from his second term at Newcastle, citing similar problems, it could prove unworkable for Laudrup.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made an incredible start to his managerial career.
On the brink of his second league title in his second managerial season, the former Manchester United striker has already been linked with English clubs.
The general consensus among fans is that Solskjaer is after his old boss' job at Old Trafford, but a spell with another Premier League club would show his credentials in this country and really boost his chances of being named Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at United.
In a similar vein to Laudrup, Solskjaer has exceeded expectations with finite resources, and Ashley would no doubt welcome a young manager over whom he could exert his influence.
Solskjaer is one of world football's brightest young managerial talents and already has significant experience at Premier League level as a player. Coming to Newcastle would be a great step towards aligning his managerial achievements with his on-field glories.
Although Wigan have had some troubles, Martinez has kept them in the Premier League on a minimal budget since 2009.
There's a theme developing here, and it's easy to see. Martinez has constantly got results out of his Wigan side, despite working with one of the tightest budgets in the Premier League. Martinez has kept the team in the Premier League since his arrival in 2009, which ranks as a significant achievement.
Remaining in the Premier League isn't something that Newcastle should consider an achievement, however, and the increased pressure on Martinez would demand better results.
Ashley's ambitions for the club are often in doubt, but there's no doubt that his expectations of his managers have risen since Pardew guided the team to a fifth-place finish last season.
Martinez wouldn't have much time to prove himself—if Pardew was forced out, there would be no long-term contracts—but he has always delivered and it's worthwhile remembering that he was in the running for the Liverpool job before it eventually went to Brendan Rodgers.
Laurent Blanc is rumoured to be looking for a Premier League position.
Another manager with his sights allegedly set on Old Trafford, it was reported by the Daily Mirror that Blanc has enrolled at the Royan language school in order to learn English ahead of a Premier League move.
While his services would likely come at a higher cost than Ashley would like, there’s no reason why Blanc couldn’t succeed at St. James’ Park.
His stint with the French national side may not have been a success, but he showed a willingness to do things his way, epitomised by his suspending of the entire 2010 World Cup squad for his first game in charge.
At Bordeaux he showed a winning mentality when guiding the team to second and first place in the league in his first two seasons. In their title-winning campaign of 2007, Bordeaux won their final 11 games, setting a French record in the process.
It’s fair to say that Newcastle need some of that success right now.
Diego Simeone deserves a lot of credit for his achievements in Madrid.
This is a real long shot, as Simeone is reportedly in talks with Atletico Madrid to keep him in Spain for the foreseeable future. Atleti would be wise to lock up these contract talks as soon as possible, as Simeone has emerged as a real managerial talent since taking over at the club.
Although Radamel Falcao gets all the plaudits for Atletico’s rise in prominence, Simeone deserves to claim some glory for himself. He has installed a style of football that is a joy to watch, regardless of your football affiliation.
The way the team successfully tore apart Chelsea in August illustrated just how far they have come under Simeone. It obviously didn’t go unnoticed, as the Atleti boss is also now being linked with taking over the Chelsea job after Rafa Benitez vacates the position.
Aligning Simeone with a potential move to St. James’ Park may be venturing out into the land of fantasy a little too far, but out of all the candidates on the list, he would be the one to bring most excitement to the pitch.