It was perhaps no great surprise when Newcastle United confirmed John Carver would stay as head coach until the end of the season.
Carver had been in temporary charge at St James’ Park since Alan Pardew’s departure for Crystal Palace at the start of January.
It’s fair to say that Carver didn’t make the most of an early opportunity to win over the Newcastle fans by picking an under-strength team in the FA Cup third-round defeat by Leicester City.
His extension in the role to the summer was then hardly greeted with mass enthusiasm on Tyneside. Still, Carver does enjoy the support of the players and that should be enough to tick things over until the end of the season.
Newcastle are far enough above the bottom three, even after a run of just one win in nine games in all competitions before Carver’s appointment, to not be seriously troubled by the threat of relegation just yet.
Carver also still has to fulfil the club’s stated ambition of a top-10 finish, providing Carver doesn’t steer the Newcastle ship into the rocks over the next three months, then a more experienced head coach will certainly become available in the summer.
Ajax coach Frank de Boer is the overwhelming choice of the fans to take charge. De Boer has won four titles in a row at Ajax and is trying to hunt down PSV Eindhoven to make it five. He has even alluded to an interest in the Newcastle job, it’s just that he won’t leave Ajax mid-season.
That has appeared to be the main problem in Newcastle’s earlier attempts to appoint a successor to Pardew.
Derby County boss Steve McClaren, St Etienne’s Christophe Galtier and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Lucien Favre all don’t want to leave their posts during the season. Former Lyon boss Remi Garde and ex-Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel, meanwhile, want to wait until the summer before considering a return to football management.
De Boer is the eye-catching name on the list and you can understand why Newcastle are prepared to wait for the former Netherlands international.
He has a proven track record with Ajax, he can mould a successful team mixed with youth and astute signings, and he would fit into the management structure at Newcastle whereby he isn’t solely responsible for transfers.
His appointment would certainly give Newcastle fans a lift. They need it as trying to repeat the Premier League title challenges of 20 years ago will feel like being another generation away to them.
The way that money has been invested at the other big clubs in the top flight also makes it more difficult than ever for Newcastle to break back into the elite, and the Champions League places.
But it has to be said that, with such a large fanbase, Newcastle are a big club, even if their transfer business of the last few years doesn’t make it feel that way.
De Boer can help to restore the image of Newcastle being a big club. That’s why it’s important Newcastle get the right man for the long term, even if it means waiting an extra few months.