There has been a difficulty all season in gauging the enormity of Newcastle's achievements. At around quarter-to-five last night it burned brighter into focus when Alan Pardew was voted the Barclays Premier League manager of the season.
His side will finish no lower than fifth, but the real pay-off, one worth around £35m, would be the third-place spot that could be guaranteed if Newcastle win at Everton tomorrow and results involving Arsenal and Tottenham run for them.
The Champions League has flickered into the consciousness of Pardew and his staff only as the campaign has progressed and lost little of its early momentum. "It's off the scale what it could mean," he said. "It's almost as great as getting promotion from the Championship to the Premier League, it's that significant.
"There are some complications about it this year because fourth place isn't guaranteed but third place puts you straight in the group stage, though, and that is massive. That is a big, big jump for any football club. It's something that Everton didn't quite manage to do. David [Moyes] got them into fourth, which was a brilliant effort, but they missed out on the qualification. It means nothing if you don't make it. The figures only come in if you get through to the group stage.
"We had a decent season last year, and we've obviously had a special season this year. The pressure will be on us next year. It is going to be even more challenging. We've got a European campaign, we've got expectation and we might lose a key player so I'm under no illusions that we haven't cracked it, but it's been a great year, and a year we've got to build on. We're looking at various things that are going to improve us.
"I'm trying to get players' minds around the Europa League for next year. This year the policy has been a bit easier for me because we've not had as many midweek games, so therefore if we have great performances, I just pick the same team and maybe change things a bit tactically.
"Next year, we may have to make four or five changes even if we win because I'm going to need to rotate the players. For instance Fab Coloccini is going to have to understand. He wants to play every game. He'll play a lot of them, but he can't play them all. It's a question of managing the players."Reuse content