Whenever there’s a period of unrest at Newcastle United, it’s only a matter of time before the finger of blame starts being thrust in the direction of the club’s supporters.
It has become a widely-accepted ‘fact’ in some quarters that United fans simply expect too much.
It’s a view mostly held by supporters of opposition clubs, as well as many London-based journalists working for the national press.
The attitude became tiresome years ago, and remains as untrue now as it has always been.
The vast majority of Newcastle fans are deeply unsatisfied with the state their club is in at the moment.
It runs much deeper than simply the mistrust, dislike and unhappiness towards Alan Pardew’s management of the club, but he is the man feeling the heat.
The ire of supporters is being directed firmly in his direction, and rightly so.
Pardew and Newcastle have been on a slippery slope for two years, so it is wrong to suggest the negativity towards him is a knee-jerk reaction based solely on a poor start to the season.
The calendar year so far has been an awful one for supporters, and it’s hard to think of another set of fans in the land who would accept such a dreadful run.
Pitiful performances have been an almost weekly occurrence – both at St James’s Park and in away games.
Among the ‘highlights’ of 2014 so far have included 4-0 losses to Tottenham, Southampton (twice), David Moyes’ Manchester United, and 3-0 defeats to Sunderland, Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal.
In 24 games in all competitions so far this year, Newcastle have lost 16 times and won just five.
That is relegation form, and simply unacceptable for a club of United’s size.
It’s not unrealistic of fans to demand a whole lot better, so it has been frustrating yet again to see the attitude of so many this week that too much is being expected of Pardew.
The problems at Newcastle run deep, and go much further than the manager.
However, the relationship between Pardew and the club’s supporters appears irreparable.
Fans have grown tired of his methods, antics and public utterances.
The reaction towards him at St James’s Park against Hull City on Saturday is likely to be as vitriolic – in fact, possibly more – than it was against Cardiff City on a deeply troubling day for Newcastle in May.
That afternoon, Pardew did not even feel able to step out of his dugout for fear the reaction from the stands would affect his team.
Again, though, the supporters cannot be blamed for their attitude towards Pardew.
They are not expecting Champions League football, or even a charge for the Europa League.
All they want is some ambition, enterprising football and the feeling the manager is getting the maximum he can out of the players.
If fans did have lofty aims, such as qualifying for the Champions League, the only man to blame for those expectations would be Pardew.
After all, this is the man who said two months ago: “We’ve pitched in and signed some players that we think give us a chance to qualify for the Champions League.”
When Pardew came out with that gem, the reaction of most fans was to scoff him.
His sentiments certainly weren’t echoed on the terraces, who could see the bones of a decent team being put together after the last one was slowly ripped apart.
Newcastle’s squad now looks extremely weak after a poor end to the transfer window, with question marks hanging over most of the summer recruits Pardew tipped to propel them towards the top four.
So who is being unrealistic here? Is it the fans, or Pardew?
Of course, there will be some who continue with their misconception about Newcastle’s supporters, and those dated and lazy opinions will most likely be trotted out whenever Pardew does leave St James’s Park.
It will be argued that he had an impossible job satisfying the expectations of United fans, like all those who went before him.
However, it’s simply untrue, and the support is completely right to expect a whole lot better than they are being delivered at present.
The blame needs to be pointed at the players, too, who do not appear to have the fight required at present.
It’s too simplistic to lay that all at Pardew’s door. Experienced professionals should give everything they have got in every game, regardless of what they think of the manager.
It’s Pardew who is in the firing line, though, and because of the way things have gone over the last two years, he can have few complaints.
2014, so far, has been one of the worst years in recent memory for Newcastle, and the evidence of the first four games of this season suggests a relegation battle could be on the cards.
Should a club of Newcastle’s stature, with regular attendances of 50,000+, ever be in a situation like that?
Should they ever feel like a 4-0 defeat at Southampton is acceptable, never mind two maulings at the hands of two different Saints teams in the space of a few months?
No. They deserve so, so much better, and they have a right to expect it, too.
They deserve a committed team with a manager who looks capable of extracting the maximum out of them and taking the club forward.
That not asking too much, is it?