AT a South London hotel, John Carver will raise a glass with Alan Pardew tonight.
But their friendship will be put on hold at Selhurst Park 24 hours later.
Newcastle United take on Crystal Palace tomorrow night, with the game coming just over five weeks after Pardew’s exit was confirmed.
Carver, United’s head coach, struck up a close friendship with the 53-year-old during his four years at the club.
During his final – and tortuous – 12 months on Tyneside, Pardew found himself embattled amid protests from frustrated fans.
Carver, by his side during that troubled period, feels that experience prepared him for the challenge ahead at Newcastle.
“I’m not sure there’s many people out there who could have dealt with it like he did,” said Carver. “How he dealt with it is invaluable to me, and I learnt from it and it can only stand me in good stead in the future.”
Carver felt Pardew only left Newcastle because of the emotional pull of Palace, his former club.
“He was going nowhere, I’m telling you,” he said. “He was as strong as an ox.
“His strength helped me, Steve Stone and the rest of the staff. He was a leader.
“It was only because of the circumstances and the club that became available that he changed. He had wanted to stay here.”
The pair, still in regular contact, plan to meet up before the fixture.
“I’ve spoken to him a few times since he got the job, and we exchange texts,” said Carver.
“Putting the football aside, we had a really good friendship. We’d often go out for a drink together, and there’s a mutual respect for each other.
“Obviously, there’s a game to be played, so all that goes out of the window. We’ll compete against each other because he wants to win the game, and I certainly want to win it.
“He’s talking about coming to have a quick drink in the hotel. Whether he gets there or not with the London traffic, I don’t know.”
Carver was recruited by Pardew in the weeks after his surprise appointment in late 2014, but the call came as a surprise to the 50-year-old, who had previously served under Sir Bobby Robson at St James’s Park.
“I got the call from him and it was a complete shock, he wanted me to come up here without telling anybody,” Carver said.
“We spoke for over an hour, but within 10 minutes you could feel this chemistry straight away. There and then he offered me the job.”
Carver will always be grateful to Pardew for taking him back to St James’s Park.
“I never thought I’d end up coming back here, to be honest,” he said.
“I’ll be entirely grateful for the rest of my life, the fact that he actually brought me back here.”