‘Focused’ Newcastle players needed doubt lifted over who was new head coach

DELIGHT ... John Carver at Hull.
DELIGHT ... John Carver at Hull.

JOHN Carver believes Newcastle United’s players are more focused now the uncertainty of who is leading the team has ended.

Carver’s side beat Hull City 3-0 at the KC Stadium on Saturday as goals from Remy Cabella, Sammy Ameobi and Yoan Gouffran gave the club its first win of 2015.

The victory came after Carver was appointed as head coach until the end of the season.

And the 50-year-old – whose side are 11th in the Premier League – feels the decision has given him the authority he needs to put his ideas in practice on the pitch over the coming weeks and months.

“It makes a big difference when you know you’re manager or you’re head coach, and in charge for the rest of the season,” said Carver.

“You look for leadership from the top, and although the lads have been fantastic, there’s always that little bit of doubt, not just for the players but for the staff.

“Once you make something permanent then people can get themselves focused, and I thought we were really focused in the performance.”

Asked if it was important that the players knew he wanted the job on a full-time basis and so wasn’t just seen as an interim head coach, Carver added: “That was very important.

“One of the first things I did with the group was to get them together and say that ‘this is not an interim position’.

“If you look at the title, it is not interim head coach, it is head coach. I said to the guys, ‘listen – I’m in this position, we have got 16 games to go, our season now starts’.

“It starts for the new players coming in, the injured players coming back, and for me and the staff around me, because it is important to get the results over those games we have left.”

Before his appointment, a number of players publicly backed Carver for the job.

Asked if the Hull performance was a sign that the players wanted him in charge on a longer-term basis, Carver added: “I’d like to think so.

“People have come out in public and said what they think. But it’s OK talking about it – the evidence is in the performance, and we got that performance.

“This performance has been coming. I’ve seen a little bit of a difference.”

Carver was smiling at the final whistle, when he went to United’s 2,500-strong travelling support along with the players to applaud them for their backing at the KC Stadium.

He and his team had been booed four weeks earlier after the club’s FA Cup defeat to Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

“It wasn’t very nice going across to the fans after the Leicester defeat in the Cup, but I’m a big guy, I can deal with that,” said Carver.

“I took it on the chin, but this time, while I obviously wanted to celebrate with the players, I wanted to go to the fans because their support is massive

“All through the second half, they never stopped getting behind the team and that makes a difference.”

Carver, known as the “Grumpy One” behind the scenes, says first-team coach Steve Stone has now taken on the role of the “bad cop” on the backroom staff.

“I’m known as the Grumpy One, because when Alan (Pardew) was here, I was getting around people,” said Carver.

“I was the bad cop, but I’m quite controlled now. Stoney is becoming the bad cop.”

The players, bar midfielder Jack Colback, are yet to call Carver “gaffer” – and he’s happy it stays that way.

Carver said: “Jack Colback has (called me gaffer), but he wants to be on the teamsheet every week.

“But he’s the only one I’ve really had a conversation with as far as meeting me in the corridor and calling me gaffer.

“But they know what I’m about and I don’t mind if they call me JC as long as they perform on the pitch.”

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