The fact that Newcastle fans may now be disappointed to finish fifth proves just how good their season has been

With every week, and every win, Newcastle's season opens up new unexpected dimensions.

Six wins in a row, coupled goals in the last six games from Papiss Cisse, has thrust the club into a position that is so unlikely I wonder if anyone, until last weekend, really thought it was a prospect.

Alan Pardew and MD Derek Llambias have spent a few months considering the impact that a Europa League campaign might have - concluding that a couple of extra players may have to be signed on top of the couple of top defensive targets they already have.

News on Tuesday morning that Newcastle have landed Reims attacking midfielder Romain Amalfitano, 22, on a free transfer, confirms they are ready to do deals early to bolster their squad ahead of what could be a 55-60 game season next term.

But asked whether he has mapped out a way of dealing with the Champions League last week and Pardew joked: "We haven't really discussed the Champions League budget if I'm honest. I don't think we need to - I think that's still a bit of a dream for us.

"But if we suddenly get that influx of money I don't think it will take me longer than 10 minutes to spend that. I haven't got a problem with that!"

That was before the demolition of Stoke, one of the finest, most commanding, performances of a great season, (although the win against Manchester United was the best of the season). And before Spurs lost to QPR.

With a tough run in ahead - Chelsea, Manchester City and Everton - those at the club regard beating Wigan this weekend as a key game if the ultimate dream is to be achieved.

That would put huge pressure on Spurs who play a day later at home to Blackburn. Before their kick off Spurs could be six points adrift of the Geordies with just 12 to play for.

Arsenal, who Newcastle are ludicrously just three points behind with a game in hand, travel to Stoke who will surely put up a tougher fight on home ground than they did at St James' Park.

So what should have been a celebratory, joyous end to the season, with Newcastle comfortably clinching a Europa League spot, will now turn into a nerve fraying experience for fans.

But hopefully not for the squad who played with such confidence, determination and freedom at the weekend that very little, including the pressure, seems capable of puncturing their belief.

That is how it should be. Look at the statistics of Newcastle's 17 previous seasons in the Premier League and they have finished in the top four five times.

Newcastle have claimed a top seven finish, nine times. For all their ups and downs, and their recent bounce back from adversity, they are one of the top flights regular challengers among the elite.

So they should be, one might argue, with the gate revenue and support from 52,000 unwaveringly loyal fans to keep them in the big league off the pitch.

Claiming a £25 million-plus windfall by getting into the Champions' League, will, as Pardew says, be an "astounding" achievement.

Of course there will be a degree of disappointment at an opportunity missed, if they don't. Even though it is an opportunity no one had on their radar even a month ago.

But no one must lose sight of the progress achieved already this season, and in the last three years since relegation.

It is simply a season to be celebrated.


Read Simon Bird's Newcastle column exclusively on every Tuesday and follow @simonbirdmirror on Twitter

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