Wednesday 24 January 2018

Chance encounter buoys Carver

Newcastle head coach John Carver has set his side a four-point target for Barclays Premier League safety
Newcastle head coach John Carver has set his side a four-point target for Barclays Premier League safety

Newcastle head coach John Carver has had the gloom hanging over him lifted by White Van Man.

The 50-year-old was heading for the training ground on Monday morning still sifting through the wreckage of Saturday's 3-2 home defeat by Swansea - the club's seventh on the trot - when a chance encounter dramatically altered his mood.

Carver said: "I was driving in on Monday morning on my own, feeling sorry for myself as you do in the car, not listening to the sport, but the pop music.

"I stopped at the lights at Forest Hall and I could feel someone pulling up alongside. I could feel the guy looking at me and he edges further forward and I thought, 'Oh, I have got to look', even though I was feeling a bit low.

"So I looked and suddenly he just indicated to me to keep my chin up, and behind him, his mate did exactly the same. I got quite emotional in the car - but then I had a bit of a giggle to myself because those two had actually picked me up with their actions.

"What they did, because I am one of them, what they did meant so much to me, so I drove on to the training ground and you would think someone had just given me a pot of gold. Seriously, that is how I felt."

Carver thought he had been given a pot of gold in January when he was handed the reins at his home-town club in the wake of Alan Pardew's departure for Crystal Palace.

However, his dream job has been transformed into something of a nightmare by a dreadful run of results, sparked in part by injuries and suspensions to an already under-strength squad, which has left the club fighting an unexpected battle for Barclays Premier League survival.

Under his charge, the Magpies have collected only nine of the 45 points they have contested, and their current total of 35 ahead of Saturday's potentially key trip to improving Leicester will almost certainly be insufficient to ensure their continued presence in the top flight.

However, Carver insists he has no regrets about accepting the challenge.

He said: "When you set off on the ladder, you say to yourself, 'Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go?'.

"You set targets all the time and I always said I wanted to be manager of this football club because of what it means to me, so when you get that opportunity, you have got to try to take it.

"By hook or by crook, I want this and I want to make a go of it. I hear people say I might end up stir crazy, but I'm not bothered. I want to have a go."

Carver's initial tenure - he was asked to take the helm until the end of the season by managing director Lee Charnley - is effectively a chance to prove he can do the job on a longer-term basis, and while many supporters have already made up their minds, he knows it is Charnley and owner Mike Ashley he needs to impress.

He said: "The important people that count, they will make their decision. They will take everything into consideration. They will listen to all the rumours about people being linked because it might just spark something in their heads.

"But I am the man in the position and they see how I am dealing with things in general in the football club in a difficult time with a difficult group."

Derby boss Steve McClaren remains the bookmakers' favourite to be appointed at the end of the season, although even if that proved to be the case, Carver does not accept that his time at St James' Park would necessarily be over.

Asked how easy it would be to slip back into a supportive role, he said: "Dead easy - but I think that would be the easy way out and I am not prepared to do that.

"I've never done it in my life and I am not going to start doing it now."

Press Association

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