Chris Waddle has admitted Alan Pardew's many critics have been silenced by Newcastle's sensational form this season.
The Magpies currently sit fourth, a scenario virtually no-one would have predicted in the summer when the club sold Kevin Nolan and became embroiled in a war of words with Joey Barton just months after letting crowd favourite Andy Carroll join Liverpool.
Speaking at a centre for England sponsors Vauxhall in Newcastle, club legend Waddle said: "When you are a manager you have got to make decisions and so far he has made a lot of good ones. He has taken this team into the top four and they have been there all season. It is a marvellous achievement."
He added: "Alan wasn't everyone's first choice and Chris Hughton was very popular. I felt really sorry for him when he lost his job.
"I wondered what they were doing and thought it was a really strange decision.
"Then it was 'Why Alan?'. But to be fair, from the first he day he came in he talked well and said what he wanted to do. Now he has won everyone over."
Should Newcastle emerge victorious against Chelsea this weekend, Waddle believes their top four bid would have to be taken seriously.
Although even he still talks of the Tyneside outfit finishing "in the top eight, top six maybe", Waddle sees no reason why they should shy away from one of those coveted Champions League spots, tough as it is to get one.
"We're coming into December and they still have a position in the top four," he said. "If they get a good result against Chelsea at the weekend, then they've got a decent run of games, and could probably strengthen in January.
"What a season that would be for Alan Pardew if he could keep them there. Finishing in the top four would be like winning the league."