One of the biggest myths around English football is that Newcastle United supporters have unrealistically high expectations. You hear it frequently from both the media and supporters of clubs around the country.
Don't enjoy the football of Sam Allardyce and want a change? Unrealistic expectations. Unhappy about an FA Cup third-round, home loss to a Cardiff side who were woeful on the road? Must just be those overly high expectations again. Annoyed Newcastle finished 10th after a horrible collapse across the whole second half of the season? You get the idea.
Let's set the record straight here: This is rubbish. Expectations on Tyneside are rock bottom and have been in just about all of the 30 years I've attended games. The club haven't delivered any silverware in my lifetime, so how on earth could expectations be high? Perhaps outsiders think the 50,000 fans who fill St James' Park every other week do so because they 'expect' something and not because they're fiercely proud of their club and their city, regardless of now little footballing success they deliver.
At the end of the past season, expectations and morale were as low as they have been in many a year. Feeling let down by the club's blatant lack of ambition in league or cup, fans began to walk away from their long-held season tickets in droves. This doesn't mean supporters expected success; it means they'd like to have seen the effort their support deserves.
The club had to act, and so they have gone out and purchased six players while selling only one. Has this remarkable improvement in transfer policy increased expectations? Not a lot, actually. There might be fewer Newcastle supporters fearing a relegation battle than there were in June, but most acknowledge that a top 10 finish would be an achievement, all things considered. Don't get me wrong: There will be one or two overly enthusiastic youngsters who have convinced themselves that new signing means a top four challenge, but every single club has one or two of them.
Hope -- now that is something completely different and not to be confused with expectation. I hope Newcastle win the league. I hope Newcastle win both cups. I hope Alan Pardew finally figures out how to develop talented young footballers. But obviously I don't expect any of these things to happen.
The new signings have boosted morale, but expectations remain as low as ever.