JOHN Carver has got backing at Newcastle United from the unlikeliest source – Steve McClaren!
McClaren is the bookmakers’ odds-on favourite to succeed Carver in the summer and become the club’s next head coach.
But Carver – whose relegation-threatened side take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium tomorrow – still wants the job himself on a permanent basis.
Derby County head coach McClaren has repeatedly distanced himself from speculation linking him with the post since Alan Pardew left for Crystal Palace at the turn of the year.
McClaren, however, is expected to be on United’s shortlist for the job.
Carver met the former England manager on Tuesday afternoon when he travelled to the Midlands to watch Newcastle’s Under-21s take on Derby at the Championship club’s training ground.
United, featuring fit-again forward Siem de Jong, were beaten 4-0.
Carver – whose 14th-placed side is battling to stay in the Premier League after seven successive defeats – has seen his squad decimated by injuries and suspension.
Carver says McClaren sympathised with his “difficult” situation, though he insists the pair didn’t talk about speculation surrounding the Newcastle post.
“I spoke to Steve McClaren at Derby,” said Carver.
“I had a good chat with Steve. We had a good talk. We didn’t talk about anything other than my situation and about what my players are doing on the pitch.
“It was all about me and how I had to cope with it, and even he said ‘it’s been a difficult thing for you John – I understand that – but you’ve handled it quite well and you’ve had to cope with it’.”
Asked if McClaren had mentioned the job, Carver added: “No, absolutely lot. Absolutely 100 per cent no.
“He just asked how I was coping with it, how I was dealing with it. Steve and I go back – and Steve Round and Paul Simpson who were there.
“We were all on that same Pro Licence course together.
“I spoke to the other two lads as well. It was all about the situation here. There was nothing about what all the rumours are or anything like that, because they had to give me some respect as well.
“Whether they are in for it or not, they have to give me the respect, so they were never going to talk about anything like that. I didn’t spin it the other way, either.”
Carver still feels he is in “pole position” to take the head coach job on on a permanent basis.
“Listen, I’m in pole position at the moment, and until I’m told otherwise, then nothing is going to change.
“Whether that happens next week, the following week, in the summer ... I’m in pole position, and that’s how I look at it.”
Carver also met Queens Park Rangers manager Chris Ramsey at the King Power Stadium on Wednesday night, when he watched Chelsea beat Leicester 3-1.
And Carver – who served Pardew and Sir Bobby Robson as No2, and managed in his own right at Toronto – feels the likes of him and Ramsey should be given the chance to prove they can manage in the Premier League.
Asked if he was better suited to a coaching role, Carver said: “Listen, you’ve got to give people opportunities.
“There will be people saying that, but I also think people out there understand the circumstances.
“These are extreme circumstances – I keep saying that but they are.
“I had a chat to Chris Ramsey, and he said ‘I’ve seen the sides your putting out – it’s difficult’.”
Meanwhile, promotion-chasing Derby play their final Championship game of the season tomorrow.
McClaren’s sixth-placed side take on Reading at the iPro Stadium needing a point to be certain of a play-off spot.