TEAMtalk guest Jak Penny shrugs off conspiracy theories that Newcastle's success is a 'fluke' and insists Alan Pardew deserves all the credit.
Infiltrating the upper echelons of the Premier League is no mean feat in the modern game. An environment where success is derived from having deep pockets upstairs and a fleet of star names in the dressing room.
To break into that elite group at the top must be classed as a prodigious achievement. If so then Newcastle are thoroughly deserved of the plaudits currently piling up on their doorstep. The Magpies have upset the top-flight apple cart after muscling in alongside the rich and famous without the resources perceived necessary to engineer progression.
A team built upon shrewd operating in the transfer market, strict financial control in the boardroom and pragmatic management has contradicted the tools considered essential to break into the top-four.
Alan Pardew has been at the forefront of a turnaround that could go down in the history books if he leads Newcastle into the Champions League. However some continue to believe that the Magpies boss has benefitted considerably from lashings of good fortune throughout the campaign.
On Saturday I entered into a Twitter debate with a Sunderland supporter who intimated that Pardew had merely 'fluked it' this season stating instead that chief scout Graham Carr was the driving factor behind Newcastle's prosperity.
Said supporter pinpointed Pardew's mediocre career, prior his arrival on Tyneside, as the basis for his argument deducing that a lack of success in the past denotes an inability to flourish elsewhere.
Usually I'm quite relaxed when it comes to others voicing their opinions. After all everyone is entitled to the free speech parlay to whether I'm in agreement or not. But on this particular occasion I was irked by the viewpoint of a fan who I considered to be extremely well reasoned.
Carr's astute eye for a player has brought Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and new number nine Papiss Cisse to St James' Park over the last two years. Without a doubt he's been a crown jewel in Newcastle's renaissance and merits the acclaim being forwarded in his direction.
But to regard him as the sole reason for Newcastle's ascent into Champions League contention is a fallacy. It's also a major discredit to the job Pardew has done in difficult circumstances. Guiding the Magpies into Europe during his first full season in charge is an outstanding achievement that shouldn't be entirely dismissed.
Before a ball had even been kicked Newcastle were written off as relegation fodder after a summer spent tightening their belts and shopping for unknown bargain signings. Quite right Carr is taking the plaudits for unearthing the likes of Cabaye and Cisse but it's Pardew who has moulded them into the illustrious team we see today.
Put the current squad into the hands of Joe Kinnear or Graeme Souness and the result would be cataclysmic.
His meticulous preparation and organization has yielded positive results across the board. He hasn't been afraid to experiment with tactics to discover the best possible system to suit the players at his disposal.
Newcastle now function with a dazzling fluidity that allows them to patiently probe teams before launching a ruthless attack akin to that of a lion marauding towards an unfortunate gazelle that has been earmarked as an evening meal. Their speed of thought and intelligent movement off the ball is also truly captivating. Pardew's altering of the playing philosophy and tactical tinkering has paid major dividends.
More so, as I wrote last week, Pardew has cultivated a tight-knit society in the dressing room that has blossomed over the course of the season. His style of man-management has maintained a sense of self-belief amongst the players that could so easily have been damaged on various occasions. He protects morale at a cost sometimes shouldering the blame for tactical errors when individual errors and sub-standard performances.
In turn the players have responded with an unrelenting enthusiasm to deliver European football back to the supporters who've stuck with them through thick and thin. Every time they've been knocked down this season Newcastle have bounced back with a vengeance displaying a commendable resilience and work ethic to rectify their mistakes. It's the first time in a considerable number of years that Newcastle have a team that appears privileged to wear the black and white stripes. Pardew has been the catalyst behind that.
Their charge towards the Premier League peak owes much to the change in mentality following their relegation to the Championship three years ago this summer that saw them stripped bare and staring down the barrel into the abyss.
Just over 750 days after sealing promotion back to the top-flight Newcastle find themselves embroiled in a battle to rub shoulders with Europe's elite. Whilst they may be regarded as nothing more than pretenders their journey towards the promised land has been anything but a fluke.
You can follow Jak on Twitter at @kajynnep.