Newcastle’s derby day defeat to Sunderland was their fifth in a row, their fifth heartbreak in succession and once again their loyal and passionate fans were subjected to the taunts and ridicules of their local neighbours.
After hounding out Alan Pardew, a man they never took to as ‘one of their own,’ Newcastle have been left with John Carver. Carver is a Newcastle man, through and through; his playing career was never quite good enough to see him play in his beloved black and white stripes. But through hard work and matters out of his own control he now has the opportunity to manage them.
His passion on the sides is clear to see, he is a fan in the technical area. He is a good man, but is he quite simply out of his depth?
Listening to Carver after the Sunderland game was difficult to watch, he looked chastened, a broken man. Simply put he had just watched his team lose to their bitterest rivals, in a game where they could have plummeted The Mackems into deep trouble, they faltered, they stuttered and in the end they failed.
In his 13 games leading Newcastle, he has managed two solitary victories and eight times he has been on the wrong end of a result. The players, not particularly his players, have given up, they are on the beach. The slide was started well before Carver’s appointment but his appointment has not arrested it, only serving to accelerate it to such an extent that the Geordies may now be beginning to look over their shoulders at the relegation dogfight.
But for all his gumption and passion, he is naïve beyond measure, tactically horrendous and seems to be, to all intents and purposes a footballing dinosaur. He is stuck in the past, his tactics do not resonate with the players and they are clearly not responding to him, this is not 1980 and footballers need more than blood and thunder to engage their talents.
The problems of course go deeper than Carver, their recruitment policy, once successful is now rigid and formulaic. Their chairman is only prepared to buy young and hope, when it works it is fantastic, but at this moment it has left Newcastle a squad bereft of ability.
The points tally that Newcastle had when Pardew left, meant Carver was a relatively risk free appointment, pick up a few points, gain survival and recruit in the summer. But his team have been so poor it is beginning to look more of a risk with each passing game.
John Carver is, to use a hideously overused cliché, a good football man, given an opportunity of a lifetime. The blame should not be laid at his feet, but it is a job he should never have been given. He is a typewriter in the world of Laptops, Morse code in the age of i-Phones.
He is proving every football fan out there that football management isn’t as easy as those sat in their armchair think it is.