Any second. I’m going to say it, just let me prepare myself.

Prepare for the sneering. The ‘unrealistic fan’ accusations. The ‘deluded’ NUFC idiot.

I’m ready.

There is no reason at all why Newcastle United can’t get into (or very near to) the top four next season. Not in two years, or three or five, but next season.

There are two outstanding teams in the PL this year and nobody was going to get anywhere near them. Realistically, next season will be the same.

Away from those two, you have a small pack of good, but inconsistent teams, some rich but poorly managed, a couple of delighted (and well deserved) over-achievers (step forward West Ham and Wolves) and then the rest.

If Conte stays, it’s likely that next year’s biggest top-six improvers will be Spurs. The man knows what he is doing, has an experienced squad and will only hang around if he is assured that he can take things forward.

Should Levy be insane enough not to back him, then he will almost certainly be gone, and this red flag would demonstrate such an ingrained lack of ambition within the club, surely Kane would reluctantly follow.

We need to nod to Chelsea as well, but their lot is very much up in the air at the moment, with ownership issues taking centre stage. They could come blazing through it and be a real force next year or they could fall apart. The reality is probably somewhere in between – and the loss of a certain Mr Rudiger isn’t going to help their cause.

You’ve got that team in red across in the northwest, who were good for a while when Sir Alex was in charge, but who for many of the last few seasons have been the kids spending the best pocket money on the worst sweets.

That’s the key, spending wisely and spending big are not the same. The 20 most expensive players over the last couple of years haven’t been the best 20, the cheapest haven’t been the worst. Harry Maguire or Dan Burn anyone?

Football has never been solely about who has got the most cash. The superstars haven’t always been the big money buys. How much is Liverpool full back Andrew Robertson worth now? More than the £8m they paid for him when they signed him from Hull in 2017, that’s for sure.

Liverpool are the perfect example of how to spend money well, Manchester United are the opposite. If you sent Jurgen Klopp out with £100 to buy all the ingredients to make a romantic candlelit meal, he’d buy caviar and oysters, balanced with the perfect Muscadet, impeccably aged venison with a reduced blackcurrant jus and a chocolate dessert that would make you fall in love with his beautifully bespectacled Bavarian eyes, whether you liked it or not.

Give the same cash to the current Manchester United regime and they’d come back with half a dozen sherbet dib-dabs, a tin of cat food and an inflatable crocodile from Aldi’s middle aisle, and be genuinely perplexed as to why they were back on Tinder the following day.

Before FFP restrictions (back to the days of Jack Walker’s Blackburn, the beginnings of Abramovich’s Chelsea and the 2008 Manchester City takeover) it was slightly different. If you had the cash to go and sign the best 25 international players in the world, all proven in their abilities, you could.

Now you need more. You need a great coach, one who bonds with the team and gets the club. Like Keegan did. Like Sir Bobby did. Like Eddie Howe does.

You need excellent ownership – custodians who believe in the infrastructure of the club, who know that top players need a wide range of facilities to rival the best in the league. Like ours do – and could have them in place by the end of this summer.

You need a large, passionate, noisy, loyal fanbase. Tick.

You need a ground with an electric atmosphere, one that can freeze inexperienced teams, turning them from cocky young footballers to whimpering bunny rabbits who just want to go home to their mammies (see Arsenal).

If all of that is in place, then you need a shrewd and clever transfer policy, a togetherness within the team, a squad who want to work for themselves and their manager.

The fact that we seem to be turning our back on the greedy, outstretched palms of the likes of Jesse Lingard can only be a good thing for the club. Eddie brought in players in January who would not only add quality and depth, but who would love to play here, in front of our fans and who would work hard.

If we can get three or four quality signings through the door this summer, along with a few solid squad players to replace those who we know will be moving on; if we can maintain the momentum from the second half of the season and drive it into next; if we can stay together as a club, from the top to the bottom, then we have as much chance as any of the ‘other 18’ next season.

I’m not for one second saying that we ‘will’ finish in the top four, but the fact that we can start the season knowing that we ‘could’ is an incredible transformation in just a short few months.

We’ve got an awful lot going for us up here, many pieces are in place that are conducive to success. The jigsaw is far from complete, but you can tell what it’s going to look like when it’s finished.

You think I’m deluded? That’s fine by me.

Steve Blakeney