JOHN Carver will take charge of Newcastle United for the relegation run-in – after Steve McClaren chose NOT to answer its SOS call.
And the chances of McClaren taking over in the summer have receded significantly over the past 48 hours.
The bookmakers’ favourite for the head coach post is set to stay at the iPro Stadium.
Carver, head coach until the end of the season, has presided over a record run of eight successive Premier League defeats which has left the club teetering above the relegation zone.
Only two points separate 15th-placed Newcastle and third-from-bottom Sunderland, who have a game in hand.
United were planning to approach McClaren, the long-standing bookmakers’ favourite to become the club’s next permanent head coach, about the job at the end of the campaign.
McClaren made his difficult decision in the full knowledge that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley rarely asks someone twice to work for him.
But given the seriousness of the club’s plight, the 54-year-old was sounded out about taking charge for the final three games of a troubled season at St James’s Park.
McClaren, technically, was available, with Derby County’s Championship campaign having ended at the weekend, though his club would have been entitled to a reported £2m in compensation.
But McClaren, still reeling from his team’s failure to secure a play-off spot, didn’t feel in a position to take up the offer.
And the former England coach made his difficult decision in the full knowledge that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley rarely asks someone twice to work for him.
Now McClaren is planning for a renewed promotion bid next season at the iPro Stadium.
United, meanwhile, yesterday issued a statement confirming that Carver would be in charge for the final three games after “frank dialogue” involving him and the club’s senior players.
The decision to keep faith with Carver was met with angry response from fans.
Carver – who accused defender Mike Williamson of being sent off “on purpose” in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Leicester City – had earlier had a meeting with his squad at the club’s training ground ahead of Saturday’s home game against West Bromwich Albion.
The club statement read: “Following the result at Leicester City on Saturday, there has been two days of frank dialogue with John Carver and senior players.
“The outcome of those discussions is that the board, John Carver, his staff and players are absolutely focused on our current situation and the three hugely-important fixtures that remain this season, two of which are at St James’s Park.
“All parties accept responsibility for the current situation but are determined, together, to ensure this Club – your Club – retains its Premier League status.
“That is the only focus at this time.”
Williamson and Daryl Janmaat, also sent off at the King Power Stadium, will be suspended for the West Brom game.
Meanwhile, winger Rolando Aarons could make his comeback from a six-month spell out in an Under-21 Premier League fixture against Blackburn Rovers at St James’s Park tonight (7pm kick-off).
If Aarons plays, he could be involved against West Brom.