Newcastle manager Alan Pardew admits another turbulent transfer window and a tough start to the season have taken their toll on him.
The 52-year-old has had to contend with the controversial appointment of director of football Joe Kinnear, continued speculation over the future of French midfielder Yohan Cabaye, a frustrating lack of signings to date and a distinctly ordinary opening to the new campaign on the pitch.
That combination of factors would have been difficult enough to deal with had Pardew not ended last season fighting for his job with both owner Mike Ashley and the club's fans less than impressed with a 16th-placed Barclays Premier League finish.
While he insists the events of the last few weeks have not really come as a surprise to him, he is hoping his fortunes will take a significant turn for the better as he prepares for Fulham's visit to St James' Park on Saturday and Monday's transfer deadline.
Pardew said: "If I had been asked during the summer what would pre-season be like, I would have suggested not too dissimilar to how it's been.
"We had a tough start in terms of Manchester City away with a new manager, and also you could almost sense that one or two of our players would be involved in this window, so I kind of sensed it was coming.
"But that doesn't mean to say it hasn't been difficult, because it has.
"It has been a very difficult period and if we can get a win on Saturday and get through to Monday with one or two additions, I will be very, very pleased."
A crushing 4-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium was followed by a dispiriting 0-0 home draw with West Ham, and Wednesday night's 2-0 Capital One Cup victory at League Two Morecambe came courtesy largely of Pardew's understudies and was less convincing than the scoreline suggests.
But the uncertainty of Cabaye's future - the France international has been told he is expected to be available for selection against Fulham after sitting out the opening three games - has proved draining with Arsenal's second bid having been firmly rejected, but the Magpies are awaiting a response with time running down.