No Success But Toon Was A Stepping Stone

14 October 2012 11:47
Former Toon boss Graeme Souness missed out on glory at St James Park but says "it doesn't cause me any sleepless nights."

The tough talking Jock was never a favourite of the Toon Army, and he spent an amazing £50m during his short stay at St James' Park on players like Michael Owen, Albert Luque and Jean-Alain Boumsong.

Graeme Souness: "I've won something like 27 trophies in my lifetime. There are people out there who are very good players and yet they've won nothing.

"I won 10 trophies in three different countries as a manager: I've got nothing to prove. I've done it.

"There's managers out there now who would love to have won a single trophy. The fact is the vast majority of them haven't.

"So I'm quite cool about what I did as a player and as a manager.

"Could I have done better, or differently? Of course. But that's all water that has flowed under the bridge; it doesn't cause me any sleepless nights."

Souness left Blackburn Rovers in 2004 to become manager of Newcastle United.

Despite a promising start to his role with results back to back, Souness quickly fell out with a number of players, including Welsh international Craig Bellamy, who left the club to join Souness's former employers, Blackburn, after being farmed out on loan to Celtic.

Laurent Robert, Olivier Bernard, and Jermaine Jenas are also believed to have left the club on bad terms with Souness. The team finished 14th in the league and despite making it to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Souness found himself under mounting pressure from Toon supporters.

Newcastle began the 2005–06 season in poor form, but Souness was hoping that the purchase of Michael Owen from Real Madrid on 30 August for an estimated club-record fee of £17 million would help to turn the club's fortunes around.

Newcastle recorded a win in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland (3–2), and went on to win their next three games, keeping three clean sheets.

Souness seemed to be tightening-up Newcastle in defence, with six clean sheets in Newcastle's first 12 games of the season (as many as the whole of the preceding campaign).

His decision to reform the former England striker duo Alan Shearer and Michael Owen initially appeared shrewd. But to Souness's and the club's misfortune, Michael Owen cracked the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, when he clashed with England team-mate Paul Robinson during a 2–0 defeat at Tottenham on 30 December 2005 and was out of action for three months, adding to the club's injury woes.

Criticism of Souness's apparent lack of long term planning, centred on a threadbare squad, and a consequent vulnerability to injury.

Expensive signings, such as Jean-Alain Boumsong for £8 million,and Albert Luque for £10 million failed to make an impression.

By the end of his reign as Newcastle boss, Souness was deeply unpopular with the Newcastle fans, as evidenced by the frequency and vociferousness of "Souness Out" chants.

By the beginning of February 2006, Newcastle United were placed 15th in the Premier League table and sliding dangerously towards a relegation battle, despite the spending of £50m since Souness's arrival.

Results were not going in United's favour and sports media consistently questioned his position at the club. On 2 February 2006, Souness was sacked as manager by Chairman Freddy Shepard and replaced by United's Youth Academy Director Glenn Roeder.

In the club's DVD season review for the 2005–06 season, goalkeeper Shay Given and defender Robbie Elliott, acknowledged that Souness was under pressure at the club as a result of injuries to the squad and admitted that some players were to blame for their lack of all round effort, but also admitted there was a bad atmosphere at the training ground, with Souness seeming to favour some players over others.

Alan Shearer acknowledged that the fans never really accepted Souness, as well as several injuries being instrumental in damaging the team's confidence.


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