IT was a relatively low-key anniversary.
Over the weekend, Alan Pardew celebrated two years as Newcastle United manager.
Pardew’s now the longest-serving boss since the late Sir Bobby Robson.
Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear, Alan Shearer and Chris Hughton have all come and gone since Robson’s departure.
And Pardew wasn’t expected to outlast them all when he walked through the doors at St James’s Park in the wake of Hughton’s controversial sacking.
Unwelcomed and unloved, Pardew had it all to do in the weeks after his appointment.
And the sale of striker Andy Carroll early in his tenure, contrary to a pledge in his first Press conference, didn’t help his cause.
Yet by the end of that season, Pardew, at least, had earned a measure of respect on Tyneside.
And the following campaign his growing popularity off the pitch reflected an upturn in performances on the field which led to a return to Europe after a five-year absence.
The team, led superbly by Fabricio Coloccini, attacked with pace and purpose, and defended as a unit.
Of course, Hughton, enjoying a successful season with Norwich City, might also have guided United into the Europa League had he been given the chance.
However, this season has been a different story, though the club’s progression to the Europa League’s Round of 32 is an achievement given the injuries which have decimated Newcastle’s squad.
United have lacked the attacking fluency – and defensive solidity – that led to Pardew winning two manager of the season trophies.
Pardew’s tactics and formations have come under scrutiny.
Yet the overriding reason behind the club’s dip in form is the lack of investment in the summer’s transfer window.
The squad, put simply, wasn’t strong enough to compete at home and abroad when the window closed.
Pardew felt his younger players were ready to step up, but last week’s defeat in Bordeaux underlined that too much has been expected from them, too soon.
Pardew admitted as much after the game. The club got it wrong in the summer.
And the team’s fate on the field this season appears interwoven with Newcastle’s endeavours in next month’s transfer window.
In his very first meeting with Tyneside’s media, Pardew pledged to bang on the board’s door as much as it took to get the players he needed.
And the results on the pitch in the wake of a rash of injuries and suspensions have already given Pardew a persuasive argument to take to the board.
However, as Pardew discovered shortly after joining the club, January transfer windows – like the club’s owner, Mike Ashley – are predictably unpredictable.