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Everton v Newcastle – Q&A with Coming Home Newcastle

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Ahead of this weekend’s vital Premier League game at home to Newcastle we spoke Jim McMeachin from fellow SBNation blog Coming Home Newcastle about all things black and white.

Make sure you check out their site where we have also answered some of their questions as well as giving them a follow on Twitter.

Alan Pardew was never a universally popular figure among the supporters. How do you feel now he has gone and are you happy John Carver is in charge?

Alan Pardew was a difficult figure for Newcastle supporters. At best he was a yes-man built to try to explain away bizarre decisions by Mike Ashley. At worst, he was a tactically inept manager who couldn't figure out how to reconcile his fondness for route one hoofball with the players being brought in by Graham Carr and Derek Llambias/Lee Charnley. By and large he underachieved with better talent than our performances would suggest. He managed to finish exactly where Ashley wanted him too (outside Europe, top-10 ideally) which frustrated the fans because we should have been better. So far as John Carver goes, largely the fan base did not want him to have the job and those of us most skilled at self-delusion actually chased down information on some of the names mentioned to take the reins on a full time basis. Ultimately, it was always going to be John Carver for the rest of the season, though, and we're largely ambivalent about that fact.

Following on from that question, should Carver be offered the job permanently in the summer? And if not, who would you like to take charge?

I don't think that there's any real case to be made to give Carver (even though he is a Geordie and "HEY HE WORKED WITH SIR BOBBY!") the job on a full time basis. Unless the management skill of "Yes Man" is hypervalued by Mike Ashley – which it very well may be – he has done very little to suggest that he is the man to keep us out of future relegation scraps. We're all pretty much just treading water at this point.

What changes if any - has Carver made since taking over?

Most of the changes have really been semantics.  Splitting the hairs between calling a formation one thing or another and "taking risks" by playing outside midfielders/wingers on the outside of midfield and playing two strikers (THE RISKS!!) in a 4-4-2.  The most prominent change that he has made since taking over was giving Remy Cabella a prolonged run in the squad playing positions that give him the most chance of having a positive effect on things.  Cabella has been hurt, but may be back in the squad for the match this weekend.  Whether he plays or not is another issue.

Newcastle have shown what they are capable of by beating Chelsea and Liverpool this season but have struggled to replicate that on a regular basis, what do you think is behind that inconsistency?

Man, if I could boil this down to it's essence and provide the cure then I would be a very very popular man. What you've described is Alan Pardew Syndrome in its purest form. (It's why long-term Crystal Palace fans are going to crow less and less). The talent is there to take on the biggest boys for sure. A conspiracy theorist might entertain the possibility that the occasional achievement at the level our talent would allow is to buy the goodwill of the fans to hold in reserve to counteract the poor results required to keep a decent squad in a depressed league position. But that would be a conspiracy theory. Probably.

The Newcastle board have previously admitted that the cups are "not a priority", with the focus squarely on staying in the Premier League. Though Everton’s struggles with juggling Europa League football this year serve as a warning, how does that approach to the cups make you feel?

Juggling the Europa League is always difficult, and historically Europa League qualifiers in the Premier League finish in the bottom half of the league. You guys were the lone exception to that trend a few years back if I recall correctly (yes, in 2007-08 - ed). The domestic cups, on the other hand, are a sore point with the Newcastle supporters. It is clear that we are not going to be contenders for a PL title ever again, so the cups represent our only chance to end a trophy drought that no sits at 45 years since won the Fairs Cup in 1969. Lifetimes have been spent supporting the club with no tangible reward, so whomever can stand in and take us to silverware... ANY silverware... will instantly have a place in the pantheon of Newcastle legends. Well, maybe not all that... but close.

Newcastle find themselves nicely tucked away in mid-table and almost certainly safe from relegation. What are the club’s aims between now and the end of the season?

Your guess is as good as mine.  John Carver surely aims to succeed (but not too much!) to try to make a case for getting the job on a permanent basis, but he's just not good enough.  I guess the primary goal is going to be to collect the final 5 points to get to that mythical 40-point plateau – which the club will likely ballyhoo like we've accomplished something – even though the drop is likely to be below 40 points this year.  Beyond that, the aims will be to irritate us in any way possible.

Papiss Cisse will miss the game at Goodison Park through suspension, who do you expect to play in his absence?

Oh, Papiss. Almost a year to the day from Pardew's extended vacation for head butting David Meyler. If I were a guessing man, I would expect that we see Carver try the "risky" tactic of returning to a 4-2-3-1 with Emmanuel Riviere leading the line. Ayoze Perez is also an option, but my gut tells me that Carver goes with the former Monaco man with Remy Cabella behind him.

And finally, a prediction for Sunday’s game?

I don't expect much from us as we really don't have anything to play for. You guys will likely have the better of play and we will nick a lucky goal to take a very unfulfilling 1-1 draw.