Newcastle United now have something to show for this remarkable season, confirming Champions League qualification on Monday night.

The draw against Leicester City was enough to ensure we are now untouchable in the top four, and will be playing in Europe’s elite competition next season.

It would have been a great shame to drop out at this late stage, having been in the hunt since the early parts of the season. Plenty of people expected Newcastle’s form to eventually drop off, but that just has not happened.

There was a slight wobble at the start of the year around the time of the Carabao Cup final, but that is the only noticeable low of what has been a pretty much flawless season.

However, there was some concern behind the scenes at the start of the year from manager Eddie Howe.

Newcastle United v Fulham FC - Premier League
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Eddie Howe was not happy about Chris Wood and Jonjo Shelvey leaving

During the January transfer window, Newcastle got rid of two senior players, with both Chris Wood and Jonjo Shelvey joining Nottingham Forest.

According to the Telegraph, the decision to sell Wood and Shelvey was not one that Howe was enthusiastic about. They state that he was not pleased to see them go, and only sanctioned the deals because the players asked to leave.

Howe and Dan Ashworth believed that the squad needed to be strengthened at the start of the year, yet they ended the month weaker than how they started it. Anthony Gordon was the only major arrival.

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League
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The club took a risk, and it is one that has paid off. While Wood was a great option, he would not have been required in the second half of the season due to the form and improving fitness of Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak.

As for Shelvey, he probably would have featured, but his time at Forest has hardly suggested that Newcastle were wrong to let him go.

Those two players were not replaced, which needs to happen this summer. But now the club are in a better position to sign a higher calibre replacement, which they would not have been able to do in January.

That is why the gamble has paid off, as Newcastle begin to look for reinforcements to help them compete in the Champions League next season.

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