Newcastle United are in serious danger of relegation from the Premier League for the third time in under a decade.
The Magpies are one of 12 teams facing the threat of a drop to the Championship.
But the Toon Army appear more at risk than most. Unrest permeates St James’ Park. There are issues regarding ownership, investment and the future of Rafael Benitez.
As it stands, none of those factors will be resolved by close of play this January.
Add everything together and it leaves Newcastle at a significant disadvantage up against their top-flight rivals.
One addition on-loan is not grounds to suggest that their season will be transformed overnight.
It could prove to be a good piece of business. But even then it’s only short-term. All it does is paper over the cracks of a creaking team.
It also highlights that Newcastle are being forced to feed off scraps as a result of the owner’s indecision.
What they really need is a top-quality striker.
Benitez’s men have mustered a measly 22 goals in the Premier League so far this season. In their last eight league matches, they’ve found the back of the net just six times.
Ayoze Perez (10/3 to score v Chelsea) and Dwight Gayle are much of a muchness. Joselu, meanwhile, is a cast-off from Stoke City.
Between them, the misfiring trio have scored just 11 goals in the league this season. The club have been crying out for a consistent goalscorer for some time.
Nicolai Jorgensen and Islam Slimani have both been linked, although their respective transfers appear unlikely for different reasons. They’ve also missed out on Cenk Tosun and Cedric Bakambu in recent times.
Another more experienced and solid midfield addition would also be welcome to guide what can be a naive and wasteful area of the pitch.
Matt Ritchie, Christian Atsu and Mohamed Diame are all good players on their day.
But inconsistency blights their games. Jonjo Shelvey, on the other hand, simply cannot be relied upon to be the steady hand and creative hub that United need in the middle of the park.
Add a reliable head into the mix and it allows the creative players license to play. Jacob Murphy, in particular, has the characteristics of being a big player for the Magpies.
All in all, it leaves Newcastle in a difficult situation.
They could stick with what they have and hope the odd win here and there will be enough to keep them up in a league devoid of quality.
Or they could twist and build a genuine foundation for the future for supporters that deserve better.
While Ashley is at the helm the Magpies’ future remains in the balance. They’re currently 12/5 to be relegated.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication