John Carver given his players TWO days off ahead of one of the biggest games in Newcastle United’s Premier League history.
The club must beat West Ham United at St James’s Park on Sunday to be certain of top-flight survival.
Newcastle are just two points above third-from-bottom Hull City, who take on Manchester United at the KC Stadium.
And a draw would not be enough for Carver’s side if Hull win given their inferior goal difference.
The club’s 2-1 defeat to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road on Saturday underlined the scale of the work needed to be done on the training ground this week.
Head coach Carver, however, delayed the inquest into the loss.
The table never lies after 38 games, and the three teams that do get relegated will deserve to get relegated. The performances have been nowhere near good enough – you can’t get away from that.Alan Shearer
And preparations for the West Ham game only started in earnest today, with under-fire Carver having given the bulk of his squad the day off yesterday.
After the QPR game, Carver, keen to “manage” the pressure on the team, had talked of a “low key” preparation for the visit of Sam Allardyce’s 11th-placed side.
Only United’s injured players were seen reporting to club’s Benton training ground, while Carver himself was at a charity golf day at Close House, Heddon on the Wall.
The event, which was raising money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund, was also attended by former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer, who was in charge the last time the club was relegated six years ago.
Shearer, speaking at Close House, said he felt for Carver, having gone through the same experience himself after being appointed for the final eight games of the equally-troubled 2008-09 season.
“I know what John’s going through – I’ve been there myself,” said Shearer, now a Match of the Day pundit.
“It’s not a nice feeling, and Steve Bruce (will be) exactly the same, and (Sunderland head coach) Dick Advocaat.
“The table never lies after 38 games, and the three teams that do get relegated will deserve to get relegated.
“The performances have been nowhere near good enough – you can’t get away from that.
“It’s been a very disappointing second half to the season. I don’t think anyone saw it coming. It won’t be a place for celebration if Newcastle do get a result – there’s not been a lot to celebrate.”