Rob Lee says Newcastle may struggle to emulate last season's performance in the Premier League this time round.
The Magpies were the surprise package of the 2011-12 campaign, challenging for a Champions League spot under the guidance of Alan Pardew.
The former West Ham and Charlton boss was rewarded for that performance with an eight year contract this week.
The decision to offer him that deal surprised Lee but he told Goals on Sunday Pardew is the right man to take the club forward.
"I've never known anyone to get such a long contract," said Lee. "What happens if they get relegated? There must be clauses in there.
"But Alan Pardew has come in and done a terrific job after taking over from Chris Houghton. He was under immense pressure because Chris did a good job but he's brought some good players in through Graham Carr and they have some fantastic talent there now. They've rewarded him but that's an awfully long time in football."
However, Lee doesn't believe Newcastle fans should judge the success of this season on whether Newcastle make the jump into the top four.
"They'll be hard pushed to emulate what they did last year," he said. "Last season they pushed for the Champions League. They had a fantastic season and no one expected that from them last year.
"This time people expect them to do well with Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa. They've got a strike force there which matches anyone in the Premier League and if they can stop goals going in, when you've got players like that you've always got a chance.
"But, although I think they'll be up there pushing for Europe, I think the Champions League might be a bit far off.
"They've got a really good team but if they get long term injuries to some of their key players - such as Yohan Cabaye or Fabricio Coloccini - they haven't got much back up behind them. I'm sure Alan Pardew would like to get some players in who could replace those players if necessary."
Sorry for Shola
Lee's 267 Premier League games for the Magpies puts him third in the Newcastle Premier League appearances list, behind Shay Given and Alan Shearer. Just behind him in fourth is Shola Ameobi.
Many of Ameobi's 248 Premier League appearances have come from the bench and the big striker was again employed as a second half substitute in Newcastle's 2-2 draw at Reading on Saturday.
Lee says he disappointed injuries haven't allowed Ameobi - who he played alongside - to show his true potential.
"He's been there since I was there," said Lee. "He should be a better player than he is.
"He always seems to be one of these players who has a bit of a run, starts scoring and then gets injured. He's a lovely bloke but you never see him for three, four weeks where he can prove to people he can score goals."