Alan Pardew has hailed Newcastle United’s season as “outstanding” – regardless of the outcome of their final three fixtures.
Pardew’s side were thrashed by relegation-threatened, but in-form Wigan Athletic 4-0 at the weekend.
Despite the loss, Newcastle remain in fourth spot and are still in the hunt for a lucrative Champions League place.
And Pardew told the club's official website that the disappointing defeat should not take anything away from their successful season.
“You have to put it into perspective of the season we've had," he said. "With three games to go - regardless of what fixtures they are - to be a point above Chelsea and level with Spurs is outstanding.”
The former West Ham United manager apologised to the fans for the defeat at the DW Stadium, but insisted that the club still have their eyes on the prize of a place in Europe’s most prestigious competition.
"We would have settled for that at the start of the season, for sure. If we've had a bad 45 minutes [at Wigan] we apologise to our fans for that, but the bottom line is we still have three games left and all to play for."
Newcastle have a tough run-in with games against fellow Champions League contenders Chelsea on Wednesday and title-challenging Manchester City on Sunday, but although Pardew recognised that his side are no longer the favourites for fourth spot, he refused to dismiss his side's chances.
"While we're a point above Chelsea, we are certainly the outsiders. Wednesday night is a key, key night. Tottenham have to go to Bolton and we play Chelsea.
"It might be just down to two after that, but then again it might not be, so we'll just have to wait and see."
By Tom Bennett