The spectre of relegation casts a daunting shadow over St James' Park, largely because of how recent the last internal implosion that carried the club into the Championship took place. Three-and-a-half years ago, Newcastle were thought of as too good to go down, and on the last day of the season, at Aston Villa, that concept was once more proved incredibly naïve.
Shola Ameobi lived through that demotion. His role is even more important this time, given the club's lack of centre-forwards and when he was asked if this season, in which Newcastle have sank to fifth bottom of the Premier League, bore comparison to the relegation campaign of 2008-09, he said: "No, definitely not the same at all. Back then, there was a lot of discord. Last time, I remember thinking there were a lot of players who didn't really want to be here and that does not bode well for any team.
"Certainly, the players we have here now have a better character and better temperament and hopefully that can really help us. In the last year or so, there have been a lot of games when we've been struggling but we've managed to pull [a result] out of the hat which is really good from our point of view.
"When we lose games, I can see that everyone in this squad is hurting. It's tough because when you have had some decent performances [and still lost], we have been in the changing room for about half an hour after the game discussing it because we care. It means so much to the players.
"Four years ago, it wasn't like that. Many of them knew they would be leaving at the end of the season and I think that is the difference. That is certainly the feeling I got back then. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as if they did not want to win and it's important to state that but afterwards, they'd be smiling again within a few minutes.
"This season, you can see that every single player in the dressing room is prepared to knuckle down," Ameobi added. "They all want to really help this club although obviously it is going to be very difficult to do what we did last season but we are all still together and right behind the manager.
"At times, it can seem frantic but it is important that we all keep cool heads. That is something the manager is really stressing because it's very easy to let the whole situation and the games we have lost get to you. Your confidence can be rattled but the manager has been really upbeat, trying to keep us positive. He keeps reminding us that we have had some decent performances without the right results. Is important that we try to keep a level head."
Fabricio Coloccini, meanwhile, and his representatives will hold postponed talks with Newcastle officials about the player's future on Monday. San Lorenzo, the Argentinian side who would like to sign the 30-year-old, are believed to be trying to raise the money to make an offer. Coloccini told Newcastle officials nine days ago that he wanted to return to Argentina.Reuse content