John Carver goes all David Brent at Newcastle – but needs players to stand up and be counted

John Carver
John Carver

Newcastle United’s players were shown the door this week.

It happened during a meeting at the club’s training ground.

David Brent

David Brent

Players and staff were gathered to listen to head coach John Carver ahead of Sunday’s final game of the season.

Carver told his squad: “If anybody doesn’t fancy it, if anybody wants to back-bite, if anybody wants to be negative – there’s the door.”

Steve Stone, Carver’s assistant, opened the door, but not one player walked through it.

That’s not surprising, though many of the players who gathered in that room on Tuesday will undoubtedly pass through the club’s exit door this summer.

Too many players at the club – big players – haven’t fancied it this season on too many occasions.

Some, judging by recent performances, can’t wait to leave St James’s Park.

The meeting was likened by some fans to a scene from The Office, when paper merchant general manager David Brent, played by Ricky Gervais, asked the very same question.

None of Brent’s staff left either. But, ultimately, it meant nothing at Newcastle – or at Wernham Hogg.

We’ll only know who “fancies it” on Sunday when they cross the white line to face West Ham United at St James’s Park.

Too many players at the club – big players – haven’t fancied it this season on too many occasions.

What’s Moussa Sissoko been doing for the past few months? Why did Fabricio Coloccini turn his back on the ball last weekend?

Then there’s been the ill-discipline and poor judgement that has seen Papiss Demba Cisse, Fabricio Coloccini, Daryl Janmaat and Mike Williamson pick up suspensions.

Carver, of course, must also take responsibility for the team’s failings on his watch.

Yes, there have been injuries and suspensions, and the club’s squad has proved ill-equipped to cope with the rigours of a Premier League season.

That’s nothing new, and it wasn’t fully addressed last summer – or in January.

The tens of millions of pounds sitting in the club’s bank account aren’t much use now.

So managing director Lee Charnley – who opted not to appoint a permanent successor to the departed Alan Pardew in January – is also culpable.

There was seemingly a complacency at St James’s Park, a sense that the club would be safe, come what may after Pardew’s exit.

Crystal Palace have since prospered under Pardew, while Dick Advocaat, appointed at the Stadium of Light just over two months ago, has kept Sunderland up with a game to spare.

Advocaat managed to mould the players he inherited into a cohesive unit in a matter of weeks.

By contrast, United have won just two games this year under Carver. There hasn’t been much in the way of cohesion.

But whatever his shortcomings as a head coach, Carver does care.

He cares passionately about the club, and he’s given his all.

Carver couldn’t have given any more to the job over the past few months. He’s done his best, but his best hasn’t been good enough.

Can everyone at the club say the same? I don’t think so.

Contributions from some, notably Coloccini and Sissoko, have been fitful, even pitiful.

So much has unravelled at Newcastle over the past few months that there are few threads left at which to tug.

The club, which is set to lose finance director John Irving, is frayed.

Tempers have become frayed too, and the anger, and angst, of fans is understandable.

United is a proud club with a proud history and a proud fanbase.

But there has been little, if anything, to be proud of this season.

And it is seemingly 90 minutes from the Championship, though United – two points above third-from-bottom Hull City – still have their destiny in their own hands.

That said, Hull, on form, are more likely to win their final game than Newcastle.