Newcastle chairman: Roeder is not under pressure

Shepherd said: “It was always going to be a tough season – and that was before a ball was kicked in anger.

“Losing a legend like Alan Shearer left an almighty hole because he had been such a massive figure at Newcastle for 10 years.

“Then our record signing is ruled out for the season while playing for England at the World Cup.

“We were prepared for Alan’s retirement but to lose Michael Owen as well was a cruel blow.

“And I haven’t even started talking about the other injuries which have decimated Glenn’s squad.

“It has been a tough year and, under the circumstances, I wouldn’t call it a failure.

“Of course we’re desperate for success but not many clubs would have coped with the problems we’ve had.”