Pardew hails 'magnificent' season
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew hailed his players for their efforts over the 2011-12 Barclays Premier League season after Sunday's final-day 3-1 defeat at Everton.
The Magpies went into the game looking to round off a hugely impressive campaign by securing a top-four finish, but after being undone by goals from Steven Pienaar, Nikica Jelavic and Johnny Heitinga they ended up staying fifth, outside the Champions League spots.
As it turned out, with fourth-placed Tottenham and third-placed Arsenal both winning to hang on to their positions, even a victory would not have been enough for the Tyneside outfit and Pardew - who was named the top-flight's manager of the season on Friday - said after his team's loss: "I can't fault the players. They have been absolutely magnificent to a man."
He added: "All my staff, everybody - we've had a real good go at it. You look at the quality of teams like Everton and Chelsea (who have finished seventh and sixth respectively) and you say 'how have we finished fifth'? It is amazing really.
"We are very pleased with that and we look forward to next year."
While Newcastle, only promoted back to the Premier League two years ago, have bettered their 12th-placed finish from last term to qualify for the Europa League, Everton have matched their 2010/11 effort in claiming seventh spot, and their supporters will enjoy the additional bonus that it is one higher than their Merseyside neighbours Liverpool.
Toffees manager David Moyes is reluctant to get too carried away about his side's final position but feels it represents a "brilliant achievement" given the way they have yet again picked up - this result extended their unbeaten run in the league to nine games - after a slow start to the season.
"The way I have been brought up you celebrate finishing first, and maybe in the Premier League you celebrate if you finish in the Champions League or Europe," Moyes said.
"But nevertheless, from where we were in October or November, and given the teams we were behind, it's been a brilliant achievement from the players.
"Anyone who's watching us now, we're purring. We played some top stuff and have played in that fashion for the last few months really. It was really good to watch."