The Jonas Gutierrez disability discrimination tribunal case against Newcastle United resumed on Tuesday morning, with evidence from John Carver.
The coach who hasn’t worked since Newcastle sacked him nine months ago, followed on from Alan Pardew’s testimony which was given on Thursday, before a break due to Easter.
This morning, John Carver appeared much of the time to be reading from the same script as Alan Pardew, talking about a big problem being the number of goals and assists that Jonas Gutierrez provided – even though he had never been that type of player in his career. More a team player that put in the graft that then provided a platform for others to provide the creativity and goals.
Gary Smee has been covering the tribunal for BBC Sport and today he related how John Carver told the tribunal that he was shocked when he didn’t get the Newcastle job full-time at the end of the 2014/15 season, despite almost achieving the impossible and nearly relegating Newcastle from what looked an impossible position when he took over.
Carver said that he was putting his plans in place for this current season when out of the blue he was given the boot and Steve McClaren appointed.
Justifying leaving Jonas Gutierrez out of his team, John Carver said today:
“The only way I was going to stay in the job was by picking a team to win football matches.”
Newcastle only won three of the 20 games whilst John Carver was in charge and he didn’t recall Jonas Gutierrez until the home match against Aston Villa on 28 February 2015, when he was an unused substitute.
Jonas actually returned to playing when he came off the bench in the next match against Manchester United when Newcastle lost 1-0.
Under John Carver, the Argentine international ended up playing 10 times, six starts and four appearances from the bench.
In today’s evidence, John Carver admitted he was aware of the 80 game trigger (if Jonas started 80 Premier League matches in his four year contract from 2011-2015 it triggered a one year extension) but he was adamant that this contract clause played no part in his team selection, plus he insisted nobody, including Lee Charnley, tried to influence who he chose to play.
Jonas Gutierrez ended up starting 78 Premier League games in that final four year contract at Newcastle, if John Carver had given him two more starts then he would have triggered the extra one year contract.
In those final 11 matches of last season, the only game Gutierrez didn’t feature in was the home game against Spurs after a training ground bust-up between Jonas and Carver.
Despite relying on the winger in those crucial games, John Carver today insisted that they had tried to see Jonas two years earlier in the summer of 2013, before the testicular cancer was diagnosed.
Talking about the player’s attributes, Carver said that on top of a poor goals and assists return, Jonas Gutierrez wasn’t very quick but admitted he was very fit and had great stamina.
“His fitness was his biggest strength – he wasn’t particularly quick but he was a good, strong runner.”
Interesting that once it was impossible for Jonas Gutierrez to reach that 80 match contract trigger, Jonas Gutierrez then had the bust-up in training and missed the Spurs match, only to then be selected by John Carver to start all five remaining matches of that relegation run-in.