Premier League: Newcastle decline likely to continue into next term

John Carver’s interim stint has descended into such farce following eight successive defeats and his public accusation that Mike Williamson got intentionally sent off that Newcastle fans are probably at a point where they would accept any alternative – maybe even an Alan Pardew comeback.

However, the Magpies don’t appear to have a convincing short-term or long-term strategy.

Whereas Carver’s comments after the 3-0 surrender to Leicester would surely have made his position untenable if employed by any of the 19 other Premier League clubs, Newcastle have announced their decision to stick with him for the final three encounters.

Even if they couldn’t persuade someone with top-flight experience to step in, it isn’t a stretch to figure that there has to be someone currently on the staff less destructive than Carver.

It is no longer just dreadful results and lifeless performances suggesting that he doesn’t have the squad behind him. There are reports of post-match rows with Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini to practically confirm it.

And while Mike Ashley might initially have calculated that it didn’t matter how poorly Carver fared in the second half of the season because it was almost unthinkable that they would be dragged into relegation danger, that silver lining has been ripped out of the sky.

Newcastle are two points above the drop zone, a gap that will become one if Sunderland nab at least a point from their game in hand. A kind fixture list – West Brom (H), QPR (A), West Ham (H) – is no consolation to a team beaten 3-0 by Leicester and conquered by the Black Cats a few weeks earlier.

Soothingly, they are still as high as [6.4] to go down – though this isn’t a huge comfort given that they were once 470.0 – but, regardless of whether they are in the Premier League or Championship, their long-term plan has been exposed as being a lot less defined than many assumed.

Steve McClaren, the man who was expected to replace Carver in the summer, is widely reported to have told Derby that he wants to stay and oversee their latest attempt to secure promotion to the Premier League following Saturday’s play-off-costing final-day 3-0 home loss to Reading.

If that proves accurate then it means that the one justification for their abysmal 2015 to date – that they had sacrificed the remainder of this campaign to be fully prepared for the next – has vanished.

The rumour mill is rife with talk that David Moyes is now first choice, with some going as far to claim that his 2015/16 appointment will be confirmed within 24 hours.

It seems odd on so many levels though: that a long-term thinker would ditch Spain after six months; that the Magpies would spend so long pursuing McClaren if they judged Moyes to be an option, and that such a stickler for stability and working closely with an owner would see his future on Tyneside.

Other names mentioned appear every bit as fanciful. Frank de Boer once turned down Liverpool and has signed a contract extension with Ajax since hinting in January that he was open to offers, while links to Rafael Benitez are difficult to take seriously.

Carver almost certainly won’t start next season in charge, but there is no clarity on who his successor will be and Ashley’s hiring record is so worrying – think Kevin Keegan, Joe Kinnear and Alan Shearer – that there is zero guarantee of a brighter 2015/16, even if their 2014/15 errors go unpunished.