Expectations. A word that has plagued Newcastle fans for as long as I care to remember. The lazy sports journalist or clueless ex-pro’s go to word when describing fans in the context of anger at the owner, criticism of managers and frustration with league positions or lack of cup runs.

A near impossible job for any manager because the fans expect too much. Protests against Ashley were harsh and fans should be grateful to him, they expect too much. The club is still in the premier league and fans should be happy with that, they expect too much. And so, it went on.

In more recent times though, we had started to hear mutterings of a defence by some of the more intelligent in the media who could see what the problem was and why the fans were so fed up.  There’s also been praise heaped upon Howe for the job he’s done, kudos to the owners for some shrewd spending in January and a near tearful Gary Neville gushing over the team and the crowd as he was interviewed after our 1-0 win against Villa; “it feels like St James’ Park is back”.

That said, “expectations” is still there in the background. Still being uttered by the same people who struggle to generate their own opinion as they waffle on for as long as the Talk Sport producer will allow.

It is however slightly different this time – we’re being urged to not get carried away. It’s no longer criticism for wanting more than 17th place in the league, now it’s criticism for daring to believe we might actually achieve something in the next few years.

I haven’t seen or heard a single Newcastle fan who thought that the likes of Neymar or Bale were realistic targets although I’ve seen plenty of articles, quotes and clips of so-called experts imploring us to calm down and not be so ridiculous. The same goes for Champions League, telling us not to expect that instantly when none of us do. You only had to be a casual Twitter user on the NUFC hashtag to see that one of our first celebrations post takeover was when the windows at SJP were cleaned.

We’ve had similar moments of pleasure when Alan was moved next to Sir Bobby and when Shearer’s had its rightful named reinstated. My own moment of clarity however was when we signed Trippier – that to me was a big statement for many reasons. Crucially, it meant that everything we’d heard from Staveley and co about investment and improvement wasn’t just for the cameras.

Fast forward to the end of the 21/22 season and we’ve survived comfortably whilst being a vastly improved team and squad both in terms of the existing players and new additions. We’ve made some good, solid signings in the summer window so far and Botman in particular again reassures me that the owners are for real – he could be our most significant signing since Shearer.

We mustn’t however overlook the part that the fans have played over the last 9 months. I’m 200 miles from SJP so don’t get to many games but even watching on TV it’s clear that we are a fanbase rejuvenated. Those fans who have attended games both home and away deserve all the plaudits they’ve been getting for their support for the team and the atmosphere they have created and most importantly sustained beyond the 90 mins. As we head into the new season with hope and excitement about what this team can achieve, we must keep our end of the bargain and maintain that support, recreate those atmospheres and stick with the team through thick and thin.

Personally, I don’t think it will be difficult as this is arguably the most exciting time to be a Newcastle fan – the possibilities are (almost) endless.

For the season ahead, I’m realistic (I think) to know that our form from January won’t extend to the whole of next season, that’s fine. I don’t expect to qualify for this or win that, also fine. I do expect us to have a bloody good go in every sense of the phrase and for now, that’ll do me.

But as the season progresses and if results go our way, don’t be surprised if me and many, many other Newcastle fans start to truly believe again. Some will want top 10, some will want top 8, some will want Europe and some will want even more and that’s ok too.

And so, to expectations. I have mine, and everyone else will have theirs but I won’t be told what they should and shouldn’t be. I won’t be told to calm down nor will I be warned about getting carried away. Try living through 14 years of Ashley owning your club and enjoying an upgrade as big as Eddie Howe was from his bacon obsessed predecessor and tell me you wouldn’t get carried away.

Try being as bad as we were in 2021 and finishing the season in the way we did. Try going toe to toe with AC Milan for your number one transfer target and winning the battle.

There are many other clubs who suffer, and have suffered at the hands of their owners and so I don’t claim that we’ve had it better or worse than anyone else.

All I know is that it was bad, it was bleak and it was depressing and it’s none of those things now.

For the first time in a very, very long time I don’t care what other clubs do – who they buy, who they sell and when we play them – bring it on.

Rus  Trevethick – Twitter: Rus8410