John Carver has revealed he offered his relegation-threatened Newcastle United players the chance to leave if they were not up for Sunday’s crunch decider against West Ham United.
The 50-year-old, speaking ahead of Wednesday night’s goalless draw between Arsenal and Sunderland which guaranteed the Black Cats another season in the Premier League, said assistant coach Steve Stone opened a door during a team meeting and the interim manager told people to walk if they “didn’t fancy it”.
The Tyneside club are two points clear of third-bottom Hull in the final relegation spot and have a better goal difference so Steve Bruce’s men must beat the manager’s old club Manchester United to have any chance of survival.
“I told them I was ready for a fight and a challenge,” Carver told reporters. “And not one person got up and left.”
Carver has overseen a wretched run of form since New Year’s Day which has yielded just two wins in all competitions and leaves the Magpies perilously close to the drop.
They have lost nine out of 10 games since their last win against Aston Villa in late February.
On Sunday, Carver will come up against Sam Allardyce, who was sacked by Newcastle in January 2008 – just eight months and 24 games into a short-lived tenure on Tyneside.
“I said straight out ‘if anybody doesn’t fancy it, if anybody wants to back-bite, if anybody wants to be negative – there’s the door’,” he added.
“I don’t think bringing in them just to tear a strip off them would have achieved anything.
That’s definite. I did that after the Leicester game, and you can’t really say that it worked.
“You have to try to find different ways of dealing with different situations.”
Asked about relegation, Carver said: “If it did happen, it would be unbearable and I don’t know how long it would take to get over it.”
Newcastle United are currently priced 1.70 in the match betting and the draw outcome is quoted 3.80. West Ham are available to back in the 90 minutes market at 4.50.