JOHN Carver is short of defenders at Newcastle United – but that didn’t concern one young fan.
For Carver’s been told to send out a starting XI against Manchester City with a back two, and not a back four.
The club’s head coach was given a footballing lesson ahead of this evening’s game at the Etihad Stadium at his golf club on a day away from the club’s training ground.
Carver might have been tempted to call upon as many defenders as possible against a team boasting the likes of Sergio Ageuro and Wilfried Bony.
But the 50-year-old’s been told the best form of defence is attack.
“I sit down with the fans every day,” said Carver, who has just four senior specialist defenders available to him ahead of the Premier League game.
“I was at the golf club the other day on a day off and sat with nine, 10 and 11-year-old kids for 10 or 15 minutes talking about the team.
“You’re having a forum all the time.
“It was quite funny. I asked one kid what his formation would be and to write down his team on a piece of paper.
“He had two defenders in a 2-6-2. I told him we would do that against Manchester City!”
Carver recently toyed with the idea of resting Ayoze Perez, one of his brightest attacking talents.
But he feels the forward, signed from Tenerife last summer, is rested, having had a long weekend off because of the club’s early FA Cup exit.
And the performance data from training suggests 21-year-old Perez – who impressed City earlier this season – is in good shape ahead of the club’s visit to the Etihad Stadium.
“I toyed with the idea of giving him a rest,” said Carver. “He’s been one of our mainline strikers, and done incredibly well.
“He came back lively on Monday and has had a good week. The last time he had a similar week, his physical stats, against West Ham, were at their highest.
“So I’ve looked at it closely and think he needs to play. I also know that City think an awful lot about him so he is then going to be a threat.”
Perez’s adjustment to life in England has been helped by captain Fabricio Coloccini, a fellow Spanish-speaker.
“The good thing is we have a captain who speaks his language,” added Carver.
“Coloccini has been excellent with the boy. He’s looked after him, gone around to his house to have a bit to eat together.
“He is a mature lad for his age. He’s settled in quicker than I thought, but it is important I put an arm around him.
“It’s important to know the ones you cuddle and those you kick up the backside. Ayoze is definitely one you have to show a bit of compassion to because of his age.
“But he has matured in five months, so I think he can handle it.”