John Carver feels expectations have ‘never been higher’ at Newcastle United and back to the levels when Kevin Keegan and Bobby Robson were in charge.
The years of doom and gloom at St James’ Park have now been replaced by optimism after the Saudi-backed takeover. Eddie Howe has taken over from Steve Bruce and been charged with the task of keeping the Magpies in the Premier League. There is still a long way to go on that front but back-to-back wins have lifted the mood.
Should he achieve that aim, the former Bournemouth chief will then look to build a squad capable of challenging for silverware. Mike Ashley’s reign was tough for the Toon Army to swallow, with little investment or excitement around the club.
That has now been swept away, with the likes of Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Dan Burn and Bruno Guimaraes arriving last month. It will take time to reach the levels experienced under Keegan, when the north-east outfit were title contenders and played in Europe.
But Carver believes there are now similarities with that past era and when Robson lifted spirits during his tenure.
“The expectations are high and they’ve never been any higher than now,” the former Newcastle temporary manager told the Keys & Gray podcast.
“Kevin developed the animal and the animal needs to be fed. After Kevin, it was a little bit of a lull, and then Bobby came in and he did the same thing, he picked everything up again.
“And when you’ve had a taste of that success – although we didn’t win anything, but we were competing at the top end for the Premiership and cup finals – you want more of it, and unfortunately that’s gone sour for a number of years now.”
Carver senses changing atmosphere
Newcastle are not out of the woods yet, as they are just a point above the relegation zone in 17th spot. The Tynesiders host Aston Villa on Sunday in another crucial encounter, with Howe looking to extend the four-match unbeaten run.
Victory would further give both the players and fans a shot in the arm. But Carver, now assistant Scotland coach, is adamant that the club is already moving in the right direction.
“What I will say is, I went to a game before the transfer window when the new owners just took over and you could sense the atmosphere was building,” he added. “I went to the game against Watford a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing.
“I was in the lounges, seven or eight lounges, and nobody was worried about getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Cambridge – in the past that would have got thrown back in your face as the manager.
“It got swept under the carpet a little bit because of the euphoria around the place, and the atmosphere in the rooms and in the stadium was like it was under Kevin, under Bobby. They sense it now.”
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