Sat, Feb 04, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Newcastle releases Souness

AP , LONDON

Newcastle manager Graeme Souness directs his players during a match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Nov. 19. Graeme Souness's troubled 15-month reign came to an end on Thursday when the club terminated his contract with immediate effect.

PHOTO: AFP

Graeme Souness became the latest victim of Newcastle's long, fruitless search for success when he was fired on Thursday by the ailing Magpies.

Alan Shearer, meanwhile, took his first step toward taking over one of the toughest jobs in English football.

Wednesday's 3-0 loss at Manchester City means Newcastle has collected only one point from six Premier League games and has slipped to 15th in the standings.

The fans had been chanting "Souness out" for weeks and Wednesday's one-sided loss was too much for owner Freddie Shepherd. He decided the much-traveled Scot, who had been in charge for 16 months, didn't deserve any more chances.

"I am obviously saddened at the way things have worked out at St. James' Park," Souness said. "I have enjoyed living and working in Newcastle, and my family and I have been made to feel particularly welcome by the Geordies.

"I wish the club, the players and the supporters good fortune and success going forward."

While the former Liverpool, Glasgow Rangers, Blackburn, Southampton, Torino, Benfica and Galatasaray manager now looks for another job, his departure means that Shearer gets his first taste of the hot seat at Newcastle.

The club announced that Glenn Roeder, a former West Ham manager now on the coaching staff at St. James' Park, will take temporary charge of the team, with Shearer becoming his playing assistant.

The former England captain has long envisioned a future as a club manager, and his home town club is his ideal move. He is still playing at age 35, however, and is trying to pass the all-time Newcastle scoring record of 200 he shares with Jackie Milburn.

Souness is the latest in a long line of big names to fall short at Newcastle, following Osvaldo Ardiles, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit and former England manager Bobby Robson, who was fired in September 2004.

Although the Magpies twice finished runner-up under Keegan and third, fourth and fifth under Robson, no major trophies have gone into the St. James' Park cabinet for decades.

Newcastle has a noisy following of more than 50,000 fans for every home game. But the boos and chants at the end of each game have been deafening. The last of Newcastle's six FA Cup triumphs was in 1955 and the club hasn't won the league title since 1927.

Magpies fans have watched as Chelsea, powered by the huge wealth of Russian owner Roman Abramovich, has surpassed traditional powerhouses Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool and is now the dominate force in English football.

Instead of being in that company, Newcastle has fallen further behind.

Souness has had plenty of money to spend but has never gotten the best out of the players.

As well as spending a club record fee of ?17 million (25 million euros) for England striker Michael Owen, he spent more than ?20 million (29.4 million euros) on defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, midfielders Scott Parker and Emre Belozoglu and forward Albert Luque.

Souness also had a public fallout with striker Craig Bellamy, saying the Welsh international would never play for his team again. Souness sent him to Glasgow Celtic on loan and Bellamy now plays for Blackburn.

Souness also watched in dismay as two of his stars, Dyer and Lee Bowyer, began fighting each other during a 3-0 loss to Aston Villa last April.

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