Newcastle boss Chris Hughton has told his players they deserve to be back in the Barclays Premier League after watching them edge closer to the Coca-Cola Championship title.
The Magpies secured their return to the big time without kicking a ball when third-placed Nottingham Forest failed to beat Cardiff, and then established a six-point gap over West Brom in second by seeing off Sheffield United at St James' Park. A crowd of 48,270 celebrated long and hard as the bitterness and recriminations over last season's disastrous relegation were put to one side.
Hughton said: "We deserve to be in the Premier League - we didn't at the end of last season because our position didn't lie."
He added: "But we have earned the right to be back in there and I think this club deserves to be there.
"You have achievements as a player which you will always remember; I have been involved as a coach in my time at Tottenham where we have won things.
"But in a managerial position, this is my first achievement and it's a very, very proud moment for me."
The was a party mood at St James' almost an hour before kick-off when the final whistle at the City Ground brought an end to Forest's hopes of catching the Magpies and booked their passage back to the top flight with six games to spare.
But the Blades arrived with promotion hopes of their own and refused to be caught up in the atmosphere, taking a 22nd-minute lead through Richard Cresswell's header. A misfiring Newcastle got themselves back on to terms with a 45th-minute penalty harshly awarded for Chris Morgan's challenge on Andy Carroll and despatched by Peter Lovenkrands, but it was left to Kevin Nolan to win it 18 minutes from time with his 15th goal of the season.
Blades boss Kevin Blackwell has called for Hughton to be given the chance to continue the work he has started in the Premier League. He said: "I hope the hierarchy here look at the job he has done, understand the job that needed to be done, and he has done it.
"British managers now, in my opinion, don't get an opportunity to manage, and I hope Chris is given the time and the opportunity."