John Carver is now the first Newcastle manager to lose eight straight matches, but conversation after the Magpies’ 3-0 loss today at Leicester City will focus on two things: Carver’s post-match accusations toward defender Mike Williamson, and whether Newcastle will have a new manager by the time it faces West Bromwich Albion next weekend.
Carver’s team conceded within a minute of the opening kickoff at King Power Stadium, a score that augured the team’s most demoralizing performance of the season. Depending on the rest of Saturday’s results, the loss could leave Newcastle within two points of the Premier League’s bottom three, a fate it had little chance of avoiding once Williamson was given his walking orders in the 62nd minute.
By that time, Newcastle was already down three goals, having conceded for the final time less than a minute after halftime. During his post-match interview, Carver accused Williamson of intentionally picking up his second caution, implying the defender opted to draw a red card’s two-match ban rather than face the team’s relegation struggle:
“I think the referee has made the right decision, if I’m being perfectly honest. I spoke to Mike Williamson at halftime and said a few choice words for him, and when it actually happened, I actually thought to myself, [Williamson’s] done that on purpose.
“And I’m blatantly honest about it. It looked as if he’s done it on purpose. The ball, actually, and the player [were] off the pitch (on the second yellow card’s foul). So there was no need to make the tackle.
“He’s now got a two-match ban. We’ve only got three games left. I don’t know. Is it an easy way out?”
Whether the accusation is actually true, these are the words of a man who’s given up. There’s no situation where ranting in front of a camera does anything but serve selfish motives. If he believes Williamson gave up on his team, Carver needs to address that with the player and within the dressing room rather create a controversy that will force the squad to take sides. And if he doesn’t truly know that Williamson did this on purpose, the words come off as the panic of a scared man.
Either way, the implicit criticism Carver’s lobbing at Williamson can also be applied to himself. Williamson gave up, Carver’s implying. Instead of responding to adversity with a fight, he invented a way to opt out. He quit, Carver implies. He walked away by taking two yellow cards in eight minutes.
But by ranting in front of cameras, Carver is doing the same thing. He’s creating an excuse. He’s daring Newcastle to fire him. He’s opting out. Instead of engaging the Williamson situation as a challenge that needs to be addressed with his squad, he’s gone public. He’s laid the conflict out for all to see, undoubtedly hoping sympathy sides with the man who has to deal with Williamson’s gross misconduct.
But in the best case scenario, Carver’s just like the Williamson he’s portraying. And worst case? He’s alone in his mistake.
Regardless, Newcastle can’t trust this man to save it from relegation.