Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's playing career was built around an immaculate sense of timing but he believes he was appointed too late to save Cardiff City from relegation.
"As a manager at any level you need time to gel a team," said the former Manchester United striker after seeing his side's descent into the Championship rubber stamped on Tyneside. "I came in the middle of the season knowing we needed results straight away but, although we've improved and developed, we've not got them. I've only worked with the team for four months but now we'll get more time to get used to each other and get better."
Some Cardiff fans suspect their club would still be part of England's top division had Vincent Tan, the club's controversial Malaysian owner, not concluded a bitter civil war with Malky Mackay, centred on player recruitment, by sacking the former manager.
On Saturday's evidence that is harsh on Solskjaer, whose team raged against the dying of their Premier League light, creating a litany of chances they somehow failed to convert. The final scoreline, with two late goals from Loïc Rémy and Steven Taylor adding a flattering sheen to the excellent Shola Ameobi's first-half opener, was highly deceptive.
Even so the likable Norwegian, who arrived lacking managerial experience outside his own country, accepts he has not performed as well as he originally envisaged.
"It's the hardest moment in my career," Solskjaer said. "You have to face facts and I'm one to face them head on. I didn't make the impact I hoped for or believed I'd have. That's something for me to chew on – and I'm a worrier."
Although the new manager's own player recruitment has not really come off there was sufficient promise in Cardiff's performance – albeit against a weak Newcastle set on edge by the stadium's vociferous, almost feral, anger towards Alan Pardew – to suggest Solskjaer should not be overly concerned about being sacked.
Surely he has done enough to deserve a chance in the Championship? " I've no reason not to believe I'll be here in August," he said. "My knees are knackered so the best thing is managing, I love this job – and I've never given up in my career."
Discussions with Tan are pencilled in for the coming days. "We have to plan to get back up into the Premier League straight away," Solskjaer said. "The main thing is to be ready for August."
He is determined to choreograph a promotion bid. "Cardiff's very used to challenging at the top of the Championship and we've got to use that experience to our advantage," he said. "We have a large squad and financially I think we're well off. It is up to the board and the owner to make plans with me but we're hoping to keep as many of the important players as possible."
Pardew was confronted by serious problems of his own but after watching his defence terrorised by Fraizer Campbell, Craig Bellamy, Kenwyne Jones and company, Newcastle's manager still made the time to urge Tan to stick with his one-time United attacking hero. "I don't think Ole's in danger," he said. "Cardiff have brought in a good young manager and they need to stick by him."
At least Solskjaer's amalgam of quiet humour, grace under pressure, honesty and, above all, dignity seemed appreciated by the visiting fans perched high in the Leazes End and facing a long, depressing trek back to south Wales.
Immediately after Pardew had braved considerable abuse from his own public and finally emerged from his dug-out to shake Solskjaer's hand before fleeing down the tunnel at the final whistle, Cardiff's manager ordered his players back on to the pitch. With tears in their eyes but heads held high they applauded those travelling supporters.
Tan may have made an awful mess of things but do not bet against Mackay's successor leading Cardiff back into the promised land next spring. He was arguably the wrong manager at the wrong time in January but, come next season, could become the right man at the right time.
Man of the match Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United)