Sir Bobby Robson and John Carver

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor

 

Once assistant manager to Sir Bobby Robson, John Carver is now Alan Pardew's number two at St. James' Park. And, as the country celebrates former Magpies boss Robson, Carver sat down with nufc.co.uk to discuss the legendary manager and United's build-up to the new campaign…

 

John Carver on… a gruelling pre-season

It's certainly been a tough one, I've been exhausted just watching the lads run.

But they have worked extremely hard and you can see that in the games we've played. We've played with intensity and the boys are looking really strong.

Pre-season is where you get your base from but they have been working almost every day, double sessions, and it's pleasing when you see the rewards on the pitch. They are in good spirits and I think they are enjoying working hard.

Sometimes certain players don't like working hard but we have a group of players who have actually rolled their sleeves up and said 'come on, we've got a lot to prove after last year'.

 

 

On… progressive pre-season friendly performances

In all the games, other than the first 45 minutes against Rio Ave, I think our performances have got better and better and we've got stronger and stronger with each match. Some of the football we've played and the goals we've scored have been excellent.

Pre-season is all about progression and there has definitely been progression from us. It is now all about peaking at the right time and we will be looking to do that for Manchester City a week on Monday, when it all starts for real.

 

 

On… a tough final warm-up against Braga

We played Braga last year as well as part of our pre-season games so we already know they are a very good side.

They had a healthy finish in the Portuguese league, coming fourth, and they will give us a tough test, being well-organised and strong.

We had two games against Benfica last season and have faced Rio Ave and Pacos de Ferreira already this summer, and those top sides in Portugal are decent to test yourselves against.

 

 

On… Sir Bobby Robson National Football Day

Of all the people in English football who deserve something like this, it's definitely Sir Bobby.

He was, in my lifetime, the best England manager and I was fortunate to get to know him really well and work with him.

It's very fitting that we are having this day to mark the Football Association's 150th anniversary, the whole country will celebrate it and I am looking forward to it.

It will be great to turn up today, see Lady Elsie and the boys and help celebrate this special day.

 

 

On… Sir Bobby's influence

He has really shaped me as a coach.

I've worked for a number of different managers over the years but the one thing about Sir Bobby was how he dealt with players and how he handled them.

In the early days when I was young and naïve, I did things I would never do now and he helped guide me.

Sir Bobby always taught me to be strong and never back down to players, to never be taken advantage of, and I certainly think I've taken that advice on board with regards to my coaching.

So, some of his influence has definitely rubbed off on me. I've even got a few of his mannerisms and find myself going into Sir Bobby's distinctive voice every now and again with certain things I say.

There isn't a week that goes by where we don't talk about Sir Bobby at the training ground and tell some of the funny stories about him.

You can't put a price on the experience and the value I got from working with him, and I'll never, ever forget that.

 

 

On… brave managerial destinations

When I had the opportunity to go to Toronto in the MLS, Sir Bobby encouraged me to do it. He had been at Vancouver in his early days of management and he said to me 'you have to sample different cultures'.

Sir Bobby did it not only in England but in Holland, Spain and Portugal. To do it in four massive footballing nations like that is pretty unique in my opinion, certainly from an Englishman.

It will be interesting to see if there any brave managers in the future who fancy going abroad and doing it once, maybe twice or three times.

That's what made Sir Bobby so special, because he was willing to go out of his comfort zone to learn more about different countries, different cultures and different styles of football.

He was a truly special man and a great manager, who this country loved and people in the North-East adored. He will always hold a place in all of our hearts.

Sir Bobby Robson and John Carver