It seemed like the Newcastle dream was dying. Poor results, despair, and, most alarmingly, apathy seemed to have finally put the flames out on the Toon Army spirit.
The cruelest blow of all was the departure of Kevin Keegan earlier this season, so soon after returning as hero. Surely not even Newcastle fans could hope again after that ordeal?
Yet, against all odds, the club has secured the appointment of Alan Shearer as manager until the end of the season.
The announcement will once again ignite the passion and belief that has been the distinguishing mark and greatest resource of Newcastle United for many years.
The most intriguing issue surrounding this shock appointment is Shearer's decision to accept.
He has made it very clear in the past that he wanted the job "one day," but that he was very unlikely to accept any position under the Mike Ashley regime.
Many thought he would seek an assistant manager post or gain lower league management experience before taking the reins of destiny at St. James' Park.
So why the change of mind by the big man?
The answer is that it is a change of heart rather than a change of mind.
Such is his Geordie blood that Shearer must have felt unable to turn down the call, given the relegation trouble Newcastle find themselves in.
Nothing has changed materially at the club. Mike Ashley and the even more loathed Denis Wise are still in the backroom and many of players seem half-hearted at best.
Neither were there any time constraints on Shearer to return to the arena. He's a young man at 38, and his punditry contract at the BBC meant he wasn't losing touch with the footballing world.
Once again, romance and belief have triumphed over mind on Tyneside, this time in the shape of Alan Shearer himself.
However, it is an entirely rational move on Mike Ashley's part. It is a chance to redeem his reputation within the fan base and provides immunity from accusations of not being proactive in attempting to salvage Newcastle's top flight status.
From his perspective, it is nothing short of a dream coup.
What will become of Newcastle United under Alan Shearer's leadership? That's anyone's guess, but we can be sure that the run-in will be an emotion filled, tense, and exciting struggle.
So business as usual at St. James' Park.
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