Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was forcing himself to remain positive after seeing his side throw away a top-10 Barclays Premier League finish.
The Magpies squandered a 3-0 lead over West Brom at St James' Park to draw 3-3 and secure just a point, which left them in 12th place, two behind arch-rivals Sunderland and one off the Baggies.
Pardew's men were booed from the pitch and many fans did not wait for the players to return for the traditional lap of the pitch in appreciation of their support, but Pardew said: "Although I am disappointed, I am trying to keep myself in the zone of saying it's been a great effort this year, and we mustn't get away from that."
He added: "It's been a tremendous effort from this group of players. We lost Ben Arfa and Andy Carroll and in terms of finishing where we have, 12th, that's probably about fair, and we need to build on that next year."
With seconds of normal time remaining, the Magpies were hanging on to the points at 3-2, but Somen Tchoyi's last-gasp header, which completed his hat-trick, saw Newcastle drop from a possible ninth place to 12th, a slip which cost them in excess of £2million in prize money.
Pardew said: "That's the level we are at. It's frustrating, there's nothing else to say other than that, really. We should have seen the game out and we should have won."
Newcastle looked to be cruising when Peter Lovenkrands' 39th-minute strike after Steven Taylor had scored his third goal in as many games had given them a 2-0 lead at the break.
The match was all but over within two minutes of the restart when Jonas Olsson sliced Jose Enrique's cross into his own net, but the Magpies had not reckoned with Tchoyi.
His 62nd-minute effort seemed likely to provide nothing more than consolation, but when he added a second 10 minutes later, the visitors started to believe.
However, the home side had all but seen out the victory when, with literally seconds of normal time remaining, Tchoyi dived to head home Olsson's cross and claim a point.
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.