Cooney and Black

Is John Carver in over his head at Toon? The criticism is that nothing much has changed. Same tactics, same defensive drills that have not been working. Very little inspired management…

John Carver

bynigelclarke

SUCH a proud club, such great fans, such a wonderful stadium. But the pride of the North East is struggling badly…no, not Sunderland, but Newcastle.

As much as it has gone wrong at the Stadium of Light, so the malaise has seeped into every quarter of Geordieland. Suddenly, the R word is being bandied about, and it doesn’t stand for recovery.

Relegation is now being talked about at Newcastle as often as it is brought up at Sunderland. It’s a bleak scenario: two giants on their knees, two brilliant clubs facing the awful drop into the Championship.

Don’t think it couldn’t happen to Newcastle who, under John Carver, have spiralled into a position where they are anxiously looking over their shoulders.

They are currently eleventh in the Barclays Premier League, nine big points above the bottom three, but the chasing clubs are closing in.

By Easter. it could be a different story. with Toon at home to title contenders Arsenal next week, and then having to face, of all clubs, Sunderland. After that it is Liverpool and Tottenham, teams with much to play for.

Geordie fans forced Alan Pardew out of the club; they didn’t like him because he came from London. They made his life intolerable and at the first opportunity he left the manager’s chair for a safer one at Crystal Palace.

Carver was told he would take over until the end of the season, when Newcastle would look again at the situation. But Toon appear to be in freefall.

Gone are the days when they were everyone’s favourite second club. Then, they played their football, they entertained, and those who watched never wanted the game to end.

They filled the stadium with their passionate support, the Gallowgate End, when all the fans were out in force in the black and white striped shirts, like a massive herd of zebra on an African plain.

The noise was enough to make you shudder, Geordie fans supported Newcastle with such a passion they had their own place in the history of the club.

But they have won only two of the ten games that Carver has been in charge of, and there are now suggestions that he is in over his head. To make matters even more worrying for him, he will be without skipper Fabricio Coloccini for three games after his red card at Everton.

The squad is already threadbare, and those fans who will watch Arsenal on Saturday can only dream about the day Toon came back from 4-0 down against the Gunners to draw 4-4.

Pardew was in charge then, and Carver, who had worked closely with him on his coaching squad, has yet to stamp his own mark on the side.

The criticism is that nothing much has changed. Same tactics, same defensive drills that have not been working. Very little inspired management. So it is no wonder that the vultures have begun to take an interest in what is happening, and who might come in if Carver is given his P45.

Fan criticism has been chiefly aimed at owner Mike Ashley, who has so far shown no indication of his future plans. Suffice to say he is no longer trusted, and is looked on in the same way as Pardew was perceived. Suspicion takes a capital S hereabouts.

Newcastle have always believed that, by their very name, they were better than the rest. Well, the next three matches will test their mettle, on and off the pitch.

They dare not continue dropping points; Palace and West Brom are only two points behind them, Everton three. Losing becomes a habit, just as much as winning. And right now, Toon are finding it difficult to play with the kind of confidence that suggests they can put two fingers up to those who say they are heading for a relegation battle.

Will Carver take the same sinister road as Gus Poyet?

Unfortunately, in the Premier League, the North East threatens to become a wasteland. Hope is rapidly disappearing; the passion that ignited a working- class area to whom football meant everything is now being replaced by a feeling that the inevitable is just a few games away.

Two fine clubs in a relegation battle. Two fine teams perhaps going down. It couldn’t get much worse…could it?

 
 

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