CARETAKER boss John Carver has labelled his row with Newcastle United fans at Southampton one of the “darkest” moments of his career.
Carver had a heated exchange with supporters before the Magpies’ game at the St Mary’s Stadium in September.
The 50-year-old confronted fans holding up a “Pardew out” banner in the away end.
And there were chants against then-manager Alan Pardew during the game, which an abject Newcastle lost 4-0.
Carver, in temporary charge for the return fixture at St James’s Park this evening, later apologised for his actions.
He was also “embarrassed” at the Tynesiders’ performance on the south coast.
“It was absolutely the worst day of my time at the club – one of the darkest days of my life, to be honest,” said Carver.
“I was embarrassed to be part of Newcastle United coaching staff.
“We created nothing on the day, and they could have won it by six or seven and that’s not right. I’ll be telling the guys at the team meeting that we’ve got a point to prove.
“We were second best in every department – never got close to them – and if you do that against a good side, you get punished.”
Carver says incident before the game was triggered by a conversation he had with goalkeeper Tim Krul, who was “disappointed” at the anti-Pardew banners being held up during the warm-up.
“It started badly even before kick-off,” said Carver.
“I didn’t have the problem with the fans protesting, but when Tim Krul said to me he was a bit disappointed with the banners being raised before kick-off, that was the only thing that upset me.
“I’ve said many times that I’d be the first to protest – I said it after the cup game at Leicester.
“It was the fact it was before the game had even started – that’s what disappointed me more than anything else.
“I don’t have a problem with protests when things aren’t right or good, but that’s why I got upset.
“You know what I’m like, I’m not a shrinking violet, am I?
“We had words with each other, but it’s all history now. I’d even forgotten about it. I apologised afterwards, absolutely, and rightly so, but there wasn’t one that came the other way.
“I can’t go into detail what was said.”
Carver – who has served Newcastle most of his adult life – is keen to succeed Pardew and take over as the new club’s head coach.
But he is aware the exchange damaged his relationship with some fans.
“I think it did initially,” he said. “People who know me know that I’m never going to walk away from a situation like that.
“I was trying to do the best for the team, and all I was saying was telling them not to put the banners up there and then.
“Then he came back at me a couple of times, and unfortunately I reacted the wrong way.”
Carver admitted he “feared” the club’s campaign would unravel after the match, but two months later the team was, briefly, fifth in the Premier League after a run of one defeat in eight games.
“I’ve got to be honest, I feared the worst for the season that night,” said Carver.
“It stayed with me for a long time. I do care, and I’d realised I made a mistake.
“I realised how bad we’d been during the game.
“The fans were right to be unhappy with the way we’d played. I made that situation even worse. I’ve got to say going into the Hull game straight after, I did feel uncomfortable for the first time ever when we were doing the warm-up.
“I wasn’t quite sure of the reaction I’d get from people but I have to say it was very good. That surprised me a bit to be honest.
“The fact the fans reacted the way they did certainly helped me and made me stronger and even tougher.”