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Sunday 24 June 2018

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Carver: Newcastle up for the fight

John Carver feels Newcastle will put in a strong performance at the weekend
John Carver feels Newcastle will put in a strong performance at the weekend

John Carver is confident he will get the response he needs from his Newcastle players after offering them a way out of a desperate scrap against relegation.

The Magpies entertain West Ham on Sunday knowing they need to match Hull's result at home to Manchester United in order to avoid the drop.

But head coach Carver, who has overseen only two league wins in 18 attempts since replacing Alan Pardew in January, has revealed he handed the players a chance to take themselves out of the firing line at a meeting to which all all team staff were invited, and not one of them took up the offer.

Asked about the meeting, the 50-year-old said: "It was all the travelling staff, what you might term the senior staff - the kit-men, masseurs, doctors, physios.

"A lot of those people were here when the club got relegated. I wanted to give everybody an opportunity to have their say.

"But this week is about being as positive as we can. Forget about what's gone on in the past, this is effectively a season in a week now.

"I said straight out, 'If anybody doesn't fancy it, if anybody wants to back-bite, if anybody wants to be negative - there's the door'.

"[Coach] Steve Stone opened the door, and I told them to leave the room. I told them I was ready for a fight and a challenge, and not one person got up and left."

Despite the pressure, Carver has tried to bring normality to proceedings, giving his players Sunday and Monday off as is standard ahead of a Sunday game while himself playing in a charity golf day, a move which attracted criticism from fans.

However, he insisted bringing the squad in on Sunday morning to dress them down after a demoralising defeat at relegated QPR would have done little good.

He said: "I don't think bringing in them just to tear a strip off them would have achieved anything. That's definite. I did that after the Leicester game, and you can't really say that it worked.

"I've done it, and you can only do it so many times. You have to try to find different ways of dealing with different situations. That's why I did what I did, and I stick by it 100 per cent.

"When we came in to train [on Tuesday], it was so lively that that just convinced even more that I was right. It was really near to the knuckle at times, and that was great."

The stakes could hardly be higher with the cost of failure running to tens of millions of pounds, but the damage it would inflict on the club's standing in the game with fans already in open revolt could prove even more telling.

Carver, who witnessed their demise in 2009 from afar, said: "To be honest, you all know what I'm like and it doesn't even bear thinking about, to be quite honest. It's not something that's in my mind.

"I've seen what's happened in the past - it wasn't nice. If it did happen, it would be unbearable and I don't know how long it would take to get over it.

"But as far as I'm concerned, let us take care of our business and then when we get to Sunday at 5pm, then I'll have a better idea, as we all will."

Press Association

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