John Carver: A Step In The Right Direction?

We need to not talk about Alan any more. Pardew is gone and forgotten and must now contend with the appalling task of trying to keep Crystal Palace – a full 4 points behind the Toon at the time of writing – out of the relegation zone for another 16 wearisome games. Up here in the crisp, bracing North East we’ve been presented with a head coach – at least for the rest of the season – who appears to have black and white blood in his veins.

Prospects

OK, so things may not have been ideal in the run-up to his official appointment on 26th January, but let’s give the lad a chance. There’s a particularly tasty prospect to look forward to on 11th February when we travel to Selhurst Park for an encounter with Alan and his new pals, as well as some potential banana skins in the near future; so let’s take a look at Carver and our prospects for the rest of the season. You can stay in touch with news and odds for individual matches at bookies.com as the season unfolds.

Geordie

First things first: Carver is a Geordie. Born in Newcastle, educated in Newcastle, he played for Newcastle as a youth (and then some other team from up the road), and he was assistant manager under Bobby Robson fifteen years ago. You can’t argue with his pedigree. Post-Bobby, Carver managed at Leeds (where things didn’t always go that well) and then took a role as assistant at Luton (who’d beaten his Leeds side 5-1).

Carver’s History

After a spell at Toronto FC, he moved to assisting at Plymouth Argyle, where his notorious loyalty (this time to Paul Marriner) stopped him moving to Burnley as head coach. In 2010 he took the top job at Sheffield Utd, from where a return to St James’ Park was to follow, to assist Pardew, four years ago. Since AP left, should you need reminding, we’ve lost to Leicester in the FA Cup, to Chelsea away in the PL (most teams have, to be fair), and Southampton at home, which, in previous seasons, would have been deeply humiliating, but less so this year as they seem to have upped their game quite a lot.

Stability

You could argue (and Carver probably would) that the most recent poor results were partly down to managerial uncertainty. Judging by social media – as we must these days – large sections of the NUFC fanbase are extremely unhappy with Carver’s appointment. Now we know he has the job (at least in theory) until May, and we have some tricky games coming up, including Man City (who, happily enough, are crap now) away on 21st February. As things stand we’re mid-table and twelve points off fifth place. Carver appears to be good bloke – but we shall see, quite soon, whether the backing of the board is well-founded.

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