Friday 23 February 2018

Carver: Anfield the perfect stage

Head coach John Carver is hoping Newcastle can end their Liverpool hoodoo to ease themselves up the Barclays Premier League table
Head coach John Carver is hoping Newcastle can end their Liverpool hoodoo to ease themselves up the Barclays Premier League table

John Carver is convinced Anfield is the perfect stage on which to resurrect Newcastle's faltering season.

The Magpies head for Merseyside on Monday evening in some disarray in the wake of Sunday's derby defeat at Sunderland, a reverse which left them with just nine Barclays Premier League points from the 36 they have contested since Carver replaced Alan Pardew as head coach.

Many fans are in open revolt, pushed past the point of no return by a fifth successive humiliation by the Black Cats, and the more militant among them are garnering support for a boycott of next weekend's home clash with Tottenham.

However, Carver is concentrating only on the trip to Anfield, where Newcastle have not won a league game in 21 years, and the chance to belatedly put things right.

He said: "It is a great place to go. Manchester United have just been there and won, they had a difficult situation against Arsenal, they had an FA Cup game against Blackburn on a difficult surface.

"They are in the semi-final of the cup and still have a chance, in my opinion, of finishing in the top four, because they have got so many good players.

"Anfield - the history of football, for me, is Anfield. If you don't want to go there and have a go, then don't be a professional footballer."

Few will give the Magpies any chance of addressing their recent record on Merseyside after an insipid display at the Stadium of Light.

Carver's squad has been ripped apart by injury and suspension - skipper Fabricio Coloccini completes his three-match ban on Monday - but the response he got form those who remained on Wearside was simply not acceptable.

He said: "Maybe I need to change the team to start with. Maybe I need to change a few positions of one or two players, and hope that sparks something.

"That will be about characters too. Going to Anfield you are going to need characters. I want to see some energy. I didn't see energy last weekend. We talked about out working the opposition. They out-worked us again."

Newcastle will need to be significantly better if they are to emerge from Anfield with reputation repaired and anything tangible to show for their efforts.

To that end, they will need to find a way to get their more influential players into the game with midfielder Moussa Sissoko in particular struggling to make an impact at the Stadium of Light.

Carver said: "It is important you get the best out of your players. You talk about Moussa, which is interesting, but also look at Jack [Colback]. He has had to play in a different position.

"He drives the team forward. Has been the most consistent performer of the season. Because of circumstances, he has had to play in a different position.

"Moussa to an extent - and I have said this before - we had had to put the shackles on him because of circumstances. You want him free-running forward, dominating games with his pace and strength. At the moment that is not happening."

Sissoko wore the captain's armband in Coloccini's absence at Sunderland, and he will have an important role to play once again at Liverpool.

Carver said: "The captain is your leader, and what you don't see is he is excellent with the French guys. He keeps them in check, he is the enforcer, which is good.

"Sometimes you give extra responsibilities to players and they thrive, sometimes they freeze. I have seen him have excellent games as captain - Arsenal - but he had one of his quieter games against Sunderland."

Press Association

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