The 21-year-old striker's off-field behaviour coupled with a shocking punctuality record saw him slip so far down the pecking order at St James' Park that even teenager Adam Campbell and forgotten man Xisco had edged ahead of him in the manager's eyes.
However, the penny finally seems to have dropped with a man who has persuaded the manager he deserves another opportunity to prove he can harness his natural talent, and his rehabilitation reached a landmark in Bordeaux on Thursday when he was handed a first senior start for the club since April 2010 in a 2-0 Europa League defeat.
Asked if he thought his days on Tyneside were numbered, Ranger, who spent part of last season on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, admitted: "Definitely.
"I thought, `That's it, I have to move on to another club'. I thought my future was going to be somewhere else. It's not been the case. There's always another chance to turn a new leaf.
"The gaffer has been good with me. He told me he was watching me, but not to take anything for granted. He wants me to keep up the good work.
"If you do everything right and you train well, then you can't be ignored. The gaffer has acknowledged the fact I have been coming in on time and done things right. He's rewarded me."
Ranger's return to the fold has divided opinion among the club's fans, some of whom believe he deserves another opportunity, while others feel he is not worthy of it.
He said: "Some see me and think, `Why is he getting a chance here? He doesn't deserve it'. But obviously I have to redeem myself and take my chance. There's a lot to learn. I don't know it all - I am only 21. I must do extra training, get my head down and watch others - and be involved.
"It's been tough for me. I have been out of the first team for a while at Newcastle. It is always the best thing to play for your parent club and Newcastle is a massive club, so it is good to get back."