Friday 28 October 2016

Carver hails fighting spirit

Published 09/05/2015 | 21:21

Newcastle's John Carver was happy to halt a run of eight successive defeats
Newcastle's John Carver was happy to halt a run of eight successive defeats

John Carver praised Newcastle's fighting spirit as they came from behind against West Brom to end their eight-game losing streak and boost their Barclays Premier League survival chances.

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A 1-1 draw at St James' Park left the Magpies in 17th place on 36 points, two clear of the drop zone with two games remaining, the next of them a trip to QPR next Saturday.

It was their first tangible reward since February 28 and while it was not the three points for which they were hoping, it prevented them from slipping into the bottom three as Hull replaced Sunderland amid contrasting fortunes for the Tigers and the Black Cats.

Carver said: "A point might be huge, but the more important thing for me is the performance. The performance showed that there are people - and I include myself in that - up for this fight.

"Today was the biggest game for a long time, since we lost to Aston Villa when we got relegated [in 2009], but it now goes on to the next one at Queen's Park Rangers. The destiny is in our hands and we have got to deal with it."

Once again, it was young striker Ayoze Perez who came to Newcastle's rescue with a priceless equaliser on a day when defeat was simply not an option.

Perez struck with his seventh goal of the season four minutes before the break to cancel out Victor Anichebe's 32nd-minute opener, and while both sides pressed for a winner as time ran down, they had to make do with a point apiece.

That proved a satisfactory return, if not the one they had craved, for Newcastle after an eight-game barren run.

It came as a relief to Carver, whose claim earlier in the week that he was the best coach in the Premier League had invited ridicule, although he insisted after the game that his comments had been misinterpreted.

He said: "It's just like another week in my world, isn't it? And I'm going to finish on this: it's been a tough week, there's been an awful lot said.

"Some of the things I have said were maybe taken in the wrong context, and I would like to just say, every time I go and play golf and I'm on the first tee, I think I'm the best golfer in the world; when I played cricket as a youngster, I thought I was the best all-round cricketer in the world, so read into that whatever you want.

"But on that note, there's a bit of relief in there because we have stopped the run of defeats, but the work is still to be done and it's still in our hands."

Baggies boss Tony Pulis was similarly upbeat after guiding his side to 41 points and mathematical safety.

He said: "This was most probably the toughest job I have had in lots of respects, so I am really pleased personally and I am pleased for my staff, obviously pleased for the chairman and the directors, but also for the Albion supporters, who have been wonderful.

"They have been absolutely fantastic since I came in. They have really, really got behind the players.

"We play Chelsea next Monday, we host the champions. We will look forward to it - I just hope [Jose] Mourinho doesn't take it too seriously."

Asked to elaborate on why this was his toughest job, he replied: "For all sorts of reasons that I'll go into later, but I have had more stressful days and stressful nights here than I did at Stoke when we first got promoted there, and Palace last year."

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