IT was a year that promised much – but delivered nothing.
The last 12 months will be long remembered on Tyneside, but not fondly.
In the end, something had to give at Newcastle United. And it did.
Alan Pardew had started 2014 as manager of a team which seemingly had a chance of returning to Europe.
But the year started badly – Newcastle lost Fabricio Coloccini to injury and Mathieu Debuchy to suspension during a defeat to West Bromwich Albion at a sodden The Hawthorns on New Year’s Day – and steadily got worse.
The club soon lost Yohan Cabaye, such an influence in the first few months of the season.
Then it was about survival, not for United – the club was never in danger of getting involved in a relegation fight – but for Pardew.
The team couldn’t score without loanee Loic Remy, and it struggled to keep the ball out at the other end of the pitch.
Many fans felt that Pardew simply did not have the answers.
And by April, supporters were openly chanting for Pardew’s dismissal. It was time for a change, in their view.
Club owner Mike Ashley took a different view. Newcastle finished 10th in the Premier League, and that was a satisfactory outcome for the billionaire, who kept faith with the 53-year-old.
Players came and went, but the squad, arguably, was no stronger when the new campaign kicked off.
If United were to achieve this season, they would have to over-achieve.
Pardew, having come through the toughest year of his long managerial career, left on his own terms this week, but it wasn’t fan hostility that pushed him towards the exit door and a return to Crystal Palace, where he spent four years as a player.
It was a yearning for control, having had little say on the incomings and outgoings during his four years.
Pardew was also aware that there was little prospect of the club signing the striker he felt the squad lacked this month.
Newcastle, again, are 10th in the league.
Ashley might be content with that, but the fans aren’t.
Happy New Year?
HIGHLIGHT OF 2014: Last month’s home win over Chelsea was one of the few highlights.
LOWLIGHT OF 2014: The tragic loss of John Alder and Liam Sweeney on MH17. It put events on the field into perspective.
ONE TO WATCH FOR IN 2015: Callum Roberts. He’s quick, direct and knows the way to goal.