ALAN Pardew believes Newcastle's team spirit and togetherness is the secret to fulfilling their Champions League ambitions - and keeping the squad together in the summer.
United are in the driving seat for a top-four slot – good enough for Champions League football next term barring Chelsea winning the competition this season – after a terrific weekend.
Newcastle thrashed Stoke while other results, once again, went in their favour.
It means they are the team to beat in the Champions League race, something that Pardew puts down to the camaraderie of the group.
“There is a great feeling among our players, even Steve Harper played a key role on Saturday,” Pardew revealed.
“He is a legend in these parts Harps, and he still played a massive role behind the scenes even though he was not involved.
“There is that kind of leadership all round the squad which has got us where we are.
“I have played in a very good Crystal Palace side which finished third in this division and I had a very good side at West Ham, but I have not had the camaraderie of this group.
“I hope that means the players we have got all want to stay and we can do it all again next year because clubs will look at these players now and try and take them off our hands.
“It might be that belief and love they have for each other which will keep them here. I am hoping that we get to such a point where there is not really many places above where they can go. That is what we really want.”
Pardew believes the excitement of the city means his team have the edge in the race for the Champions League.
He said: “Momentum at this club can be a powerful force and I am lucky not to have been here when it is going the other way because playing in front of 52,000 when it is not going well must be tough, I am sure of that – but this year the momentum is with us.
“I drove in and had a coffee early on Saturday morning and you can feel the buzz. The fans were out early, getting themselves prepared for the game and you can feel the atmosphere.
“We are not going to put the dream down and throw any cliches at it. But we simply have a chance.”
Pardew is equally delighted that he has given the city a team to be proud of.
He said: “Football is important in this city – there are a lot of people out of work, and when you look elsewhere it is still a tough environment for businesses and for people to earn money.
“But when they come to the stadium they see a team playing like we were on Saturday it just lifts you.
“And they can take that back into the workplace.”