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Newcastle head coach John Carver has defended his decisions to play in a charity golf tournament and to give his players two days off as the club faces a Barclays Premier League relegation showdown.
Supporters reacted with incredulity when the Magpies' drastically under-achieving squad was given Sunday and Monday off in the wake of their 2-1 defeat at QPR on Saturday, and some were less than impressed to see Carver himself enjoying a day's golf.
It didn't interfere with any of our preparations. Our preparation, our days in and days off, are exactly the same as they were before the West Bromwich Albion game.
I've spoken to quite a few managers and there were lots of managers not in on Sunday and Monday because we all know the final game of the season is on Sunday, so I have a clear conscience.
We pulled out of this golf charity day two years ago and were criticised for that, so you're dammed if you do and your dammed if you don't. I thought it was important that we do things in the community, we support our local businesses and charities.
It is a tough time, but sometimes you have to relax as well to get yourself ready and focused for the challenge ahead, and that's where we are now.
No way, man!
Newcastle have risked irking their disgruntled supporters even further by adding sky blue to their famous black stripes for next season's home kit.
The club could yet be playing in the Championship next season if Hull manage to pull off a surprise victory against Man United, and John Carver's men lose against West Ham.
It's an unlikely scenario but one the Magpies can have no complaints about following a dismal run of results.
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John Carver will impose a media blackout on his Newcastle United players in one final bid to complete their Premier League relegation escape.
Saturday's 2-1 loss at already-relegated QPR means Newcastle will go into their final-day match against West Ham at St James' Park still at risk of the drop, only two points clear of 18th-placed Hull.
Carver will tell his players to put their focus on their match and ignore all media coverage of their relegation fight.
"I'll tell the players to keep away from the TV and going online, to keep them focused on preparation," the Magpies boss said.
"If you take your eye off the ball you get punished, and we've got to keep our focus sharp.
"It's still in our hands, and if you want it enough then you can do something about it. We've got a week to get our heads around this situation."
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Newcastle United boss John Carver has challenged his players to dig themselves out of the hole they are currently in.
QPR host Newcastle on Saturday with Newcastle knowing three points could guarantee their Premier League survival.
"The last four or five months, I've learned an awful lot, and that's what it's all about. The fact I've been given the time to learn from different situations, I think it's very important .
"The one thing is, I'm looking forward to this weekend because there's a huge challenge in front of us, there's a bit of pressure on us and we have to be able to embrace that pressure and deal with the challenge ahead of us.
"When we come out the other end of it - and hopefully we'll be at the right end of it - then I will definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, be a stronger and better person for it."
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