Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has admitted the prospect of relegation is simply unthinkable.
The Magpies head for Bolton on Sunday having dragged themselves five points clear of the Barclays Premier League drop zone after a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Everton last weekend.
However, the job is far from done and with Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea due at St James' Park in their next three home games. And while remaining confident they will avoid the drop, Llambias told BBC Radio Newcastle: "It's totally inconceivable. You just couldn't go there - and we won't go there. I might be bullish about it, but you have got to have that faith."
Llambias' comments came as the Mike Ashley regime once again went public on life behind the scenes at a club which has gone through a traumatic few months.
Kevin Keegan's departure in September and the furore which followed it persuaded the billionaire to put the business up for sale, although with no buyer having been found, he has now resumed the process of attempting to rebuild it.
He is doing so against the backdrop of temporarily losing Keegan's replacement, Joe Kinnear, to heart surgery and seeing big names Shay Given and Charles N'Zogbia leave during the January transfer window.
However, Llambias insists the long-term plan is still achievable.
Asked about Newcastle's prospects of competing for a top-six berth once again, he said: "In the next year? I think it would be tough. It's taken Aston Villa three seasons to get there. They have done a great job. I would love to be up their like Aston Villa.
"They have got a good team - no better than us - but they are up there, they are competing for that top four and it's fantastic that they are.
"We would love to be in that position once we are settled. We need a little bit more stability on the team side and a little bit more of a solid base, and that's what we want to give them."
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