John Carver reacts to Rafa Benitez's transformation of Newcastle ahead of his return to St James's Park

John Carver
John Carver

John Carver is ready to make his first return to Newcastle United since his sacking.

Carver was dismissed at the end of the 2014-15 season after keeping the club in the Premier League.

The 51-year-old, now in charge of Cypriot club Omonoia, hasn't been back since then.

Carver – who will watch the Boxing Day home game against Sheffield Wednesday – has spoken about the Championship leaders' transformation under Rafa Benitez.

He has likened Benitez's impact to that of Sir Bobby Robson, who he served under at St James's Park.

“I was manager of Newcastle, Rafa Benitez is manager of Newcastle United," Carver told the Daily Star.

“It really does feel like a different club. Same ground, same shirts but everyone is pulling in the same direction now compared to back then.

"They were difficult times in the seasons before Rafa came in but don’t forget I know what it is like when there is a feel-good factor around the place.

“We had it when I was Sir Bobby’s No 2 and at times, we felt unstoppable.

“That same feeling is being generated at the moment and I’m convinced it will continue so long as Rafa stays around.

There’s talk of clubs coming in for him but I can’t see anyone tempting him away.

“I’ve still got a lot of friends at Newcastle and they’re all telling me he loves the club, the fans and the area.

“In Rafa, Newcastle have a world-class manager, but there had to be a major changes and to be fair to Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley, they recognised the fact and have done what they had to.

“Crucially, they are allowing the manager to manage properly, backing him in the transfer market and giving him the final say.

“The club is reaping the rewards for that.”