Belfast Telegraph

Carver haunted by Di Canio memory

John Carver will never forget the sight of Paolo di Canio sliding across the St James' Park turf on his knees in celebration.

Di Canio's joyous celebration of Adam Johnson's goal in a remarkable 3-0 derby victory on Tyneside for Sunderland in April 2013, remains an iconic image for Black Cats' fans long after the controversial Italian's brief, if eventful, reign came to an end.

But it did not go down well in the home dug-out, particularly with Geordie Carver, then Alan Pardew's assistant.

He said: "When Paolo was sliding on his knees, I've never been so agitated in my life. I wanted to take the law into my own hands that day because of what I was watching our in our stadium.

"It was very, very difficult to take, but you have to take it on the chin and accept it. From that day, that is something that really motivates and drives me to try to get the right result.

"This is your own stadium, this is your home and it was embarrassing. It was an embarrassing performance and I was embarrassed to be part of that.

"I was embarrassed about the way we played that day. Him doing that p****d me off, I've got to be honest, but I was embarrassed about the way we played."

Sunderland will equal Newcastle's run of five derby wins on the trot between 2002 and 2006 if they manage to claim just a third Barclays Premier League victory of the season on home soil.

Carver has experienced the joy of success in the fixture during his spells working under Sir Bobby Robson and Pardew, but also sampled the bitter taste of defeat in one of the more notable clashes between the near neighbours as a coach during Ruud Gullit's ill-fated spell as manager.

The Dutchman famously opted to leave star striker Alan Shearer and side-kick Duncan Ferguson out of the game at a rain-lashed St James' on August 25, 1999, and he paid the ultimate price for a 2-1 defeat.

Carver said: "We were at the old training ground at Durham Cricket Club and I was in the room with (assistant manager) Steve Clarke and Ruud. All of a sudden, he started talking about what the team was going to be against Sunderland.

"I said, 'Sorry Ruud, what did you say there?' He said he was going to leave out Alan and Duncan, and this was going to be the team. I said, 'Do you know how important this game is?'

"He used to call everyone 'lovely boy', and his exact words were, 'Lovely boy, I have played in some massive derbies. I've played in them against Ajax, London derbies and I played in the Milan derby too'.

"I said, 'Yeah, but do you actually know what this means?' He said, 'I've already told you - I've played in massive derbies'. I went, 'Yeah, but you haven't played in one like this Ruud'."

In the event, goals from Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips cancelled out Kieron Dyer's opener and left Gullit in an untenable position.

Carver said: "I actually thought, 'If we don't win it, he's gone'. This was before it all happened Then we played the game. We were 1-0 up, then the equaliser, then 2-1, and the heavens opened.

"I walked in afterwards, and there's Ruud in the room writing on his pad. I said to him, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'You know what I'm doing, lovely boy'."

Sunday will be a big day for Magpies midfielder Jack Colback, who will return to his former club for the first time since he helped them to three of those four derby victories, although Carver has no qualms about his ability to handle the occasion.

He said: "I'll be having a chat with him about how he deals with the situation, but he's a big enough character and personality to deal with the whole thing. For him to come here and score against us as a Newcastle fan, he dealt with that situation, and he's signed for us and dealt with that situation. I'm sure he'll deal with the occasion as long as he plays the game, not the occasion."


From Belfast Telegraph