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No one quite expected the Magpies to match their remarkable fifth-placed finish last term, but by the same token, no one saw them capitulating quite as they have done this season.
Alan Pardew’s team only secured its Premier League survival in the campaign’s penultimate game and, despite an enormous splurge on players in January, have rarely looked organised or threatening this season.
With one game to play, the club has acquired 41 points, a remarkable 24 points fewer than last term.
There are caveats to the Magpies’ decline; perhaps the many signings have unsettled and unbalanced the team, the traumatic injuries have also taken their toll, and the loss of form of some of the team’s star men has been enormously unsettling.
Unfortunately, the decline is such that major questions have begun to be asked to manager Pardew. If board and boss can pull together, then the club ought to have the squad to kick on up the league next term.
If not, then the instability that has so plagued the club in the past might be set to continue into the future.