One of the big challenges for Working Class John Carver™ upon taking the interim head coaching seat following Alan Pardew's departure was always going to be for him to establish points of distinction separating himself from his former boss. Poor results had supporters singing "Are you Pardew in disquise?" at the man who once offered to fight traveling Newcastle supporters who were voicing their frustrations with the former top man at their club. In fact, during his time in charge this time around, our fearless heroes have won two matches on the strength of four goals that if you are being honest with yourself can be directly traced to errors on the part of the opposition instead of any in-match brilliance by Carver's men.
I don't suppose that Carver is a dumb man. He can surely see that despite the "risky ideas" he is employing now that he is in charge, he has miles of ground to cover in order to convince the fans that he is capable of being the new man in charge. While he is not nearly as overtly deceitful as his predecessor, it is becoming clear that he is not above making moves that are designed to be misdirection or designed to distract from the big picture of the club. The latest expression of this was the much ballyhooed inclusion of Jonas Gutierrez in the match day squad against Aston Villa.
The Argentine never lost as much ground as some other players who have been around during Newcastle United's slide back to "top 10 is good enough or at least get kinda close, buddy" status. It's hard to write players like him off because every time he hits the pitch, he works his ass off. It's exactly the kind of player that this squad needs now. In various American leagues, you might hear him described as a "glue guy", the kind of guy whose passion and hard work is infectious and can light a fire underneath a team. On the heels of his being frozen out by Alan Pardew, however, rumors of appearance-based contract extension clauses and board pressures to not select him have come to the fore. There must be something to it because a manager that desperately needs to ignite the fan base in his favor would rather use Jonas as a dog-and-pony show instead of actually playing a man that could bring something to the squad and "get the fans on [the club's] side".
WCJC™ wants to convince you that he is one of you. That he bleeds black and white and has your passion for your club. He surely does. He also wants to convince you that he is somehow different than Alan Pardew tactically and professionally. At the end of the day, he is not. Our performances are still, on the balance, distinctly on the poor side. He will proudly point at the use of "risky" tactics (4-4-2! With WINGERS! and TWO strikers!) as evidence that he is not Alan Pardew regardless of how the end product on the pitch still looks pretty much the same. Perhaps most damningly, he is now showing that – whether it is his idea or the board's – he is no different than Pardew in a very important way. He is willing to mislead the supporters with half-truths and "intentions".