Five games remain in Newcastle United’s Premier League season and no matter what any of the current squad says to the media, the majority are already on holiday.

A story released to the press earlier today reported that Dan Gosling insisted that the squad are not being complacent as they sit in ninth place in the table. It was possibly the most hardly believable story ever written.

Newcastle will finish the season in the top half of the table, an achievement that matches the ambitions of Toon owner Mike Ashley and manager Alan Pardew. With a six point cushion over tenth-placed Stoke, Newcastle have five more games that mean nothing.

You could argue that the Geordies have been daydreaming their way through games since the start of the year. They’ve won just three games in 2014, undoubtedly safe in the knowledge that they won’t be embroiled in a relegation battle, nor be in a position to challenge for Europe.

The performance against Southampton a fortnight ago epitomised the attitude adopted by the squad. Alan Hansen summed it up perfectly when describing Jay Rodriguez’s opening goal, stating that it couldn’t have been easier for Saints to score if they were playing without opposition.

This weekend seen a similarly inept performance – this time at St James’ Park – as Man United ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.

The game featured a rare mistake from Fabricio Coloccini, another sign that Newcastle just aren’t bothered any more. His chest pass towards Massadio Haidara was risky and not good enough and when it led to Juan Mata scoring, Coloccini and his team mates couldn’t wait for the full-time whistle.

Pardew’s reputation is suffering a battering, too. The 52-year-old is serving his ban for headbutting Hull’s David Meyler and his side’s recent performances are threatening to start putting nails in his coffin.

Opinion on the Newcastle boss is split between Geordie fans. You could argue most want him gone, as his tactical naivety and lack of motivational skills grind on the faithful Toon Army that want to see flowing, attacking football.

But there is one simple way the Newcastle boss can start to change the opinion of him on Tyneside.

By using the remaining five games to experiment with new players, new formations and new styles, Pardew can surely earn himself some credit amongst fans.

This season, three young players have earned themselves professional contracts with Newcastle thanks to their impressive performances in the reserve and under-21 sides. Lubomir Satka, Rolando Aarons and Adam Armstrong have all travelled regularly with the first team but only Armstrong has been given pitch time – five minutes against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

If Newcastle have nothing to play for, then surely they have nothing to lose. Starting Armstrong – a quick, agile, Geordie striker – would surely be beneficial for all parties. It would give the 17-year-old Premier League experience ahead of next season, as well as giving the fans a local lad to get behind.

Rolando Aarons is another one who could be in the same boat. He may not have been talked about quite as much as Armstrong but he has an advantage in the fact that he’s a quick winger, something the first-team squad does not have.

Against Man Utd, Vurnon Anita was given the right midfield role, a position he has never played for Newcastle before. Even at Ajax, the Dutchman played either in central midfield or full-back, not on the right of a four-man midfield. Another questionable decision by Pardew.

These next five games will see Pardew’s reputation plummet to an all-time low amongst Newcastle fans, as he continues to instruct his side to coast through to the end of the season. If he had any nous, he could use this period to reignite hope on Tyneside.