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John Carver: Judge him after 10 games?

6 years ago

At the start of the season, Alan Pardew asked Newcastle supporters to judge him after 10 games. Carver is on record as saying Pardew is up there with the best he has worked with – including Sir Bobby. Surely Carver himself would like to be judged by the same standards?

Of course, any Newcastle United supporter would love to see a local lad be a huge success in the managerial hot seat, particularly one who started his playing career as well as his coaching career at the club.

In seeking to evaluate how Carver has done over his first 10 league games, it is acknowledged that he is working within constraints. When the season kicked off, the club ostensibly had a senior playing staff complete with the 25 senior players who could be registered for Premier League action. 3 further players were packed off on loan; Ben Arfa, Mbiwa and Marveaux.

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The January window has seen two of those leave permanently, Santon following in their wake. From that list, Vuckic has also gone on loan along with back up keeper, Alnwick. Only two squad members had double figures in Premier League career goals for the club, Cisse and Steve Taylor.

Carver has not been helped by the penny pinching owner and MD. Carver has not helped himself in his lack of protests about squad depth.

Football is often said to be a “results business”. We could have looked at the results after 10 games, rather than 10 Premier League games, but allowing for the Everton match gave Carver some benefit of doubt for his supposedly injury ravaged FA Cup squad at Leicester. That doubt seems to have been removed.

Of all the Newcastle managers in history, Carver has reached a hitherto unachieved milestone. Allowing for Shearer who did not reach double figures in games managed, Carver has the worst record of any. Even Colin Suggett managed 2 wins out of 9, Joe Kinnear similarly had a win ratio of 22.2%. Ardiles was similarly subject to tight cash constraints but still achieved 21.3% win ratio. Carver’s in the league is 20%, overall it is 18.2%.

Taking the stats further, Carver is the only Newcastle manager to have been in charge for 10 or more games and lost more than 50%.

Of course, statistics are meaningless without considering the quality of the opposition. Fixtures lists can provide tough spells as well as easy ones. 4 of Carver’s 5 league defeats have come against top 6 clubs. Perhaps those defeats were expected. We will come to have a look at the manner of those defeats. There was also the fiasco in the cup against Leicester.

By the same token, we should look at the wins. With the benefit of hindsight, the Villa win would appear a good one, against a team who won 4-0 away at Sunderland and who have reached the semi finals of the FA Cup. Prior to playing us, however, Villa were in the bottom 3, having lost their previous 5 away games, scoring none and conceding 10 in the process. A 1-0 win was below average.

Hull were also in the bottom 3 at the time, having not won any of their previous 16 league games.

The 3 draws came against Burnley who were in the bottom 3 at the time, and could have been a win but for a late lapse, mid-table Stoke which could have been a win but for a late lapse and a resurgent Palace who had been in the bottom 3.

There have been some decent displays for almost a half game, notably first half against Chelsea, similarly Burnley. There appeared some determination against Manchester United who came into the match with the 2nd worst away record of the top half clubs. Sadly, those performances were not maintained. Whether it is a lack of passion or a lack of discipline is a matter for debate.

The discipline case is enhanced by other things that have happened on the field. Colback picked up a 2 game suspension, Cisse a 7 game ban after failing to control his retaliation, Coloccini a 3 game ban for an over-the-top challenge. It will also be remembered that captain Coloccini was permitted to miss the Dubai trip.

Tactically things have changed. The elevation of Dave Watson, whose Under 18 team have won 6 out of 22 league games, has seen the defence operate more narrowly but able to spring an offside trap, evidenced by 3 disallowed goals against in 2 games.

We have seen a reversion to a 4-4-2 of sorts, Carver heralding his bravery. His self protestation has been negated somewhat by wingers spending the majority of their time as wing-backs. The selection of the most expensive spectator in the Premier League, Riviere, also goes against that seemingly positive step. To be fair to Riviere, his League Cup goals make him the most successful French permanent striker at SJP (remembering Remy was on loan) since Guivarc’h.

Supporters have every right to question team selection, despite depleted resources. Why Riviere ahead of Perez? What has Gouffran brought back to the team? Why had Cabella been on the bench?

On the plus side, Carver has come across as credible to outsiders. Yes he is local, yes he has a passion for the club, yes he has worked under a true great. Perhaps the players are prepared to speak on his behalf. Total capitulations, notably in the 2nd half and in particular against City, Everton and yes, Leicester, suggest that he is not up to the task. Managing a team is more than laying cones and showing videos.

The league table shows that English managers, perhaps the legacy of the Wilkinson years at the FA, do not have what it takes to match Europe’s finest technical coaches in the Premier League. Even Sunderland have had the wit to go for one of the best. English managers dominate the bottom half of the table, overseas coaches the top.

For once, Ashley deserves some credit for allowing a local lad an opportunity. Where supporters and Ashley will agree is that Carver has been the cheap option. Just as quality is now lacking from other brands that Ashley has cheapened, it is lacking from Newcastle United.

Good luck to Carver for the future. To have worked alongside Sir Bobby and to have managed Newcastle United is a huge privilege to be able to dote on.

If Ashley has any sense, he will now go for a progressive overseas coach – but if Ashley has any sense, he would not have appointed Joe Kinnear ……… twice.

Rex also runs his own website ( which you can visit HERE


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