What Are Newcastle’s Big Problems Souness Talks About?

Graeme Souness came out over the weekend with a warning to new owner Mike Ashley saying that Newcastle United were a big club with big problems. We’ll look at what Graeme said – and then try to understand the problems we think he was referring to within the club.


Former Magpies Manager Souness

If Newcastle are going to be great again – we have to get rid of people who are interfering at the club – although we cannot believe that Big Sam will take any of that nonsense. But first let’s take a look at what ex-manager Graeme Souness said to Sportsweek on Radio Five Live:

“(Mike Ashley) is obviously a very wealthy individual but success will depend on how much money he is prepared to spend.
“During my time at Newcastle and Glenn Roeder’s time we had money to spend but it was to tart the team up, not to build a team.
“It will need big money to bridge that gap into the top four because it is an enormous gap. The top four are so far away from everyone else at the moment.
“It’s a very, very difficult job. This is a big football club with big problems.”

One of the difficulties both Souness and Roeder faced was the injury concern and we think to Souness’ credit he tried to get to the bottom of it and blamed the training pitch at Little Benton – but that didn’t really solve things. Newcastle’s injury record is a big problem – no doubt about it – and we expect Big Sam to get to the bottom of this one – quickly. You could make a good argument that both Souness and Roeder lost their jobs because of all the injuries – and of course Michael Owen – our most expensive player has been inured all the time.

Graeme went on:

Sam has never managed a big club before and this is his opportunity to be successful,”.
“You wake up in morning when you manage a big club and you look to get through day with the fewest problems. “I didn’t enjoy my time up there.
“It’s not the pressure of expectation. I have worked at bigger clubs than Newcastle and expectation you can live with. “It is everything else you have to put up with. It is a very difficult job.”

That’s very true about Sam – so it will be  challenge for him – but he certainly seems up for it.

Then Souness turned to interference from Chairman and Owners at clubs regarding decisions on who is brought into the club – and Graeme thinks it’s a big problem in football today:

“That is a fundamental problem in football today. “You get people who come into the game and they are in it for five or six years, sometimes less, and all of a sudden they are experts. “I am talking about owners and chairmen. They decide who comes and goes from your club, they are laying the policy down on so many issues.
“I could name half a dozen clubs off the top of my head where that happens.” “I feel I can do it better than some of the people I worked for. I know I would not be there to interfere,”

As far as Newcastle goes it seems obvious that the people Souness is referring to here are Chairman Shepherd and Vice-Chairman Douglas Hall – the son of Sir John Hall. The two of them have always been after trophy signings. Remember Patrick Kluivert as a good example. Apparently Bobby Robson – manager at the time – had no idea Patrick was coming to the club in the summer of 2004. Also Shepherd was involved in trying to bring Wayne Rooney to the club at the same time – a forward despite our defensive frailties.

So there are two examples. With the Hall family having sold their shares we expect that’s the end of Douglas Hall’s involvement – but maybe not.


Freddy Shepherd

Apparently Shepherd had a clause written into his contract saying he (and Douglas Hall) will be paid full wages for two years after they sell their shares. So even when they own no shares in the club – they will continue to rip us off for two years – does that sound selfish to you?   It looks therefore like Shepherd and Hall are at the club for two more years – but we think they will need to behave themselves with Mike Ashley to remain in that job for any length of time. There again – if things get bad and they interfere too much – Ashley can always sack them and pay them off. He can then bring in his own Chairman (David Dein?).  That may happen sooner rather than later.

We also think some local journalists may have interfered at the club – one notable one being Alan Oliver of the Evening Chronicle. He always seemed to have a relationship with Shepherd – and was often Shepherd’s mouth piece to the fans. Not sure what to do about Oliver – but we’ve noticed some of the younger journalists at the Journal and Chronicle are excellent – and deserve their chance.

Well – that’s some of what we think was on Graeme Souness’ mind over the weekend – what do you think are the big problems at Newcastle?

Comments always welcome.

20 comments so far

  • A geordiedoonsooth

    Jun 11, 2007 at 9:56 AM

    Comment #1

    The big problem is that it is Newcastle United we are talking about, in the 52 years I have supported them there has always been controversy. Going back to Frank Brennan’s sacking in the 50’s the sacking of the manager before the 55 cup final because he wanted to drop Milburn Lord Westwood in the 60’s the players revolt in the 70’s over getting Dinniss the manager’s job, the list goes on & on. Hopefully with Ashley taking over things will change & we have a manager in the same mould as the only managter to win something in the last 50 years Big Sam like Joe Harvey is a no nonsense sort of guy. Maybe just maybe the good times might be ahead.

  • Scott

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:02 AM

    Comment #2

    How dare Souness try and spoil things again as if he hasn’t already ruined every football club he’s every managed, He’s a disgrace to the name of football and as soon as anyone listens to him again were all in trouble.

    Sam is twice the man Souness is, it tells yousomething when he tries to buy a club (wolves) so he can be manager. Now one will touch him with a barge pole!!!!!!!!!

  • andy

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:04 AM

    Comment #3

    Think Souness is a petty little man who wanted to have a dig and get his sour puss in the papers again. He couldn’t resist a dig- stuff like “I have worked at bigger clubs” yeah you were at Liverpool but you ruined them same as you ruined us.
    If he wants a headline then he doesn’t need to talk rubbish or pretend to buy Wolves, he’d get all the attention he desires with just six words “I really am an awful manager.”
    Shut up Souness you’ve never been any cop and you’ll never get a big job again now you’ve eventually been sussed. Live with it- god knows you’ve got enough compensation pay offs to keep your hair permed and your huckle tache trim, what more do you want?
    That said, I’d do his daughter.

  • Peter Perfect

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:18 AM

    Comment #4

    The problem Graeme Souness is talking about is repairing the damage done to the club during the managership of Graeme Souness.

    On getting the Newcastle job, this buffoon said “this is the best squad of players I have inherirted”.

    50 million pounds and 18 months later, the hapless Scottish idiot had taken Newcastle from being a top 5 club to relegation candidates.
    And he has the nerve to see that 50 million pounds was only enough money to tart up the team.
    The man is a USELESS manger with a giant ego.

    Liverpool fans will also testify to the fact that Souness is clueless when it comes to management seeing as it took them 5 or 6 years to recover from the haggis munching pillocks time at Anfield!!

  • Brian

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:20 AM

    Comment #5

    At the end of the day Souness will always continue to blame anyone but himself for the mess he has left at every club he has ever managed. His team selections were shit….His tactics were shit…and he is generally a shit manager, he got rid of talented players and brought in the likes of Boumsong Babyaro and Luque.

    No matter how much he whinges and whines I will never be convinced he is the blameless one, I spent too much time and money watching the complete shit him and Rodent served up, thank god they both left us before we were relegated.

  • Chris

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:30 AM

    Comment #6

    Everything Souness says is total rubbish. He blames his own failings on others. How much money did you waste at our club Mr. Souness? £50m.
    The BIG problem with our club is a chairman who is willing to throw stupid money at incompetent managers like you!

  • Christer

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:33 AM

    Comment #7

    I am taking Mr Souness comments with some truth as Newcastle united, has had several different problems occuring at the same time, which has made us really looking into the barrel of bad performances. But beliefs that he has been in better clubs than Newcastle, I leave to rot as it deserves, I believe that you should as manager keep your opinion to yourself, and not be a disgrace. Now many fans and people that can do something about the situation is taking Mr souness comments as rubbish. Its sad because there is the question of bad piches, and training grounds which causes injuries. The golden years club of signing playes that is past their prime has to end, and get players with the heart and the love for fotball. Strenghtening the defence is the most important project this club has. Get several defenders, as the current ones is not good enough, the youth need to be in the reserves and not be the in the first 11 by choice. I believe 4 full backs and 4 defenders defenitely is a must, so that we can offer european fotball next season. That is a vital key to get bigger players to sign, and to stay there indefinitely. The managers that we have had must have been somewhat chosen on the idea that a local lad should lead the troops, looking where the Premiership is going I am sorry but that is not an option anymore. We need more international managers that can attract the future stars of the fotball game. I believe that Mr Ashley is quite correct when analysing this fotball club into the furtherest detail. The youth section should be of the greatest quality giving the club the possibility of raising our own products as well as have youth school all over the world. So that the cream of the youth signs for the right club. I do not believe for a second that Mr Shepherd and the current staff are interested in other things than filling the pockets with our money. I beg that I am wrong and that he current leadership is stepping down from the position as soon as possible so that Mr Ashley can recruit the most important position in a decade, that a starving and humilliated club so desperately needs, and let the Gunners suffer from the mistake of letting Mr Dein go. Let Mr Shepheard go now, wavering all further payments from this club, that is the decent thing to do if you were a fan of the club.

  • Hugh Gallagher

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:33 AM

    Comment #8

    Souness has a bloody cheek! Although there is no doubt some truth in the interfering accusation by our meddling and crass chairman, Souness more than contributed to the club’s problem. Remember Newcastle just missed out on a Champions League place the year before he came and then he started to dismantle a side that only needed tinkering. Just for the record Graeme you spent £50m on the likes: Boumsong, Babayaro, Luque, Parker and Faye. Have a good look in the mirror – you were a disgrace as a manager.

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  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 11, 2007 at 10:52 AM

    Comment #10

    Peter – love the comment ! 😀

  • Steve Mills

    Jun 11, 2007 at 12:32 PM

    Comment #11

    Brilliant, Love the comment on watching the shit football under him, it was so true. Yes our club is a mess, but he’s a shit manager, and has ruined every club he’s been at. He bought bad players, he made the lists Shepherd signed players from. The fact he couldn’t coach or motivate was also glaringly obvious.
    Shut you mouth Souness and never come near my club again. Your a cancer which is going to take years to remove. You sold some committed, driven, talented players who just needed man management and replaced them with dross, you spent 50 million of our money and took us within sight of a relegation battle.

  • AndyT

    Jun 11, 2007 at 12:35 PM

    Comment #12

    Well we have one less big problem since we got rid of that whinging idiot as our manager anyway!

    Given his track record of taking charge at clubs where the outgoing manager has just successfully rebuilt a side that Dalgelish has destroyed – what are the odds on him being the next celtic manager 🙂

  • bw positive

    Jun 11, 2007 at 12:56 PM

    Comment #13

    WHAT A COMPLETE LOAD OF B*LLOCKS. This stinks of a big ego having been bruised and continually trying to convince itself that all was well given the scenario, and it was the circumstances that went against him, and not his complete imcompetance hands on with his players. For EVERY club he has been apart of, he put to one side HIS FAVOURITES, and used them as examples. SO many players couldnt stand the fella. He has instilled this image of himself, a mans man. A leader of leaders. What Greame doesnt realise, is that he is in a state of denial. I challenge ANYONE to review his statement, and forthright prove the man was justifiable and without reason, being nothing but bitter. He was a winner when he was a player, that part of the pitch needed him and his attritubes supposedly. But today, as a manager, he is a loser, in all aspects of being a modern manager requires of you. Punching Dwight Yorke because the latter megged him in training. He is, for want of a better more suitable word, a p!llock. He took a HEALTHY club over, one which had finished consistantly well the previous seasons. He was given 50 to spend in a very short time. With 50,000 hardcore fans willing to back the right man, WHY CAN HE BLAME anyone but his own stubborn, arrogant nature. Look at Blackburn, you CANNOT argue that he acted like a counter weight, holding them back with his primitive views. He probablies has homo-orientated visions of his perfect team, a bunch of masculine, mouthy mens men, all doning tashs, trying to intimidate the opposition by acting hard. He lost the club arguably 2 of our star players in Robert (when he turned up) and Bellamy. Do you realise how painful it is to realise, that we sold Robert, Aaron Hughes and Bellamy for a total of 6m, and replaced them respectfully with Luque, Boumsong and Owen for a staggering 36m. For whilst you could argue that Owen was the working of FFS, it is undeniable that the rest of the transfers, both in and our are the work of the scotsmen. His tactics were a compete joke, utilising two big men with no pace coupled amusingly with no wingers or wide men who could supply the ammo. Apparently wingers are extinct, yes thats right Christiano Ronaldo, Nani, Giggs, Duff, Beckham, Lennon, Downing, Jaquin etc. I have sympathy for other failures such as Gullit and especially Daghlish, whom both simply didnt quite understand the club. Souness however, arrogantly made mistake after mistake and owing to his stubborn nature, found it impossible to do anything about it. He was also the FIRST manager to NOT have the decency to walk with a small seperation fee, but actually dug his heels in, even after the board had told him they didnt want him, claiming he ” couldnt look himself in the mirror” if he quite. Total lies, he was willing to further damage the club, remaning at it as long as it took, for him to drain us of 3.5 million. So if it wasnt bad enough the financial plunge he caused, the poor signings and the disintergration of a strong fight back to the summit, laid previously by SBR, he comes out to put into HIS PERSPECTIVE our clubs apparent hear future and current stability. Finally, I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW these BIGGER CLUB”S” this W*NKER has been working for. Liverpool ISNT PLURAL YOU SHEEPS BELLY BOILING BAG OF TASHED SPAM !

  • EJJ

    Jun 11, 2007 at 1:05 PM

    Comment #14

    hello…email me…simon_12_simple@hotmail.com

    my name is simon corner as all you cool kids may no


    i wine…it is called…vimto

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 11, 2007 at 1:24 PM

    Comment #15

    bw positive – get the distinct impression that you not a fan of Souness 😀
    I think the bigger club he must be referring to is Liverpool – at first thought it was Rangers – one of the two clubs in Scotland. He managed Liverpool from 1991-1994. here are the other clubs he managed in order – Newcastle being the last one. Rangers, Liverpool, Galatasaray, Southampton, SL Benfica, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United

  • bw positive

    Jun 11, 2007 at 1:56 PM

    Comment #16

    Indeed, Ed. Rangers, owing much to the substandard of the SPL, cannot be considered a bigger club than NUFC. The day they attract Owens, Parkers, Duffs, Emres etc, then I will consider this. I think Souness labelled them bigger owing to what he believe them to be closer to his heart and more importantly the fact he succeeded to some degree at those clubs. It aint exactly a sparkly CV, albeit no reference to Liverpool whom he really shouldnt be included into this considering the staines he left them with. No I aint a fan of him if im honest, think he consistantly leaves a very disapproving taste in the mouths of most clubs’ fanbases who have had him. Heavens forbid what the Souness household must be like, Mrs Souness you have my complete admiration.
    Go buy a club Souness, then maybe there will be one chairman, willing to take you on board as a manager. How can a human being, with live brain matter, ignore a player in pre season, then spend 8.5m on him, 6 months into a contract with one of your favourite and ONLY ex clubs whom residents doesnt have a lynch mob for you and annualy celebrate his leaving by public humiliation of an effigy. Wonder if his pockets swelled around that time actually. But it is disapointing to first have to put up with Gullits poorly constructed assessment of our club and basically that we are a small club who only sees themselves through a super size me mirror, then having to read about Souness. How is it the successful managers are not spouting up right now, wheres the Keegans, Robsons ! This is the brightest period in NUFCs entire history, without a specle of doubt, albeit assuming MAs subsequent book review outlook. We should be enjoying this time, with former pros and coaches of the club telling the world how great and traditional the club is, and how much it has been deserved for the public to see us get rid of Laural and Hardy from the top. Not smear campaigns from bitter failures, harboring seige mentalities and p1ssing in our pockets telling us its raining.

  • Greg B

    Jun 11, 2007 at 2:11 PM

    Comment #17

    Graham Souness in ‘I crave attention’ shocker!!

    Two words sum this bloke up – Ali Dia.

    Souness received a phone call purporting to be from Liberian international and former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah. “Weah” told Souness that Dia was his cousin, had played for Paris Saint-Germain and had played 13 times for his country. In actual fact, none of this was true, and the phone call was from Dia’s agent. However, Souness was convinced, and signed Dia on a one-month contract.
    Dia came on as a substitute for Matt Le Tiss after about half an hour and was so bad Souness was forced to substitute him with about 10 minutes to go with Leeds winning 2-0!!!

    The bloke is a pre-madonna, an angry man with a lot to say but nothing of any substance to back up his deluded claims. I remember this clown sold his heart by-pass story to the Sun newspaper, the same paper that reported Liverpool fans were ‘stealing of the dead’ at the Hillsborough tragedy – a complete and utter disgrace, the bloke should just disappear into obscurity – a little bit like Ali Dia did, the worst signing in Premiership history! (and that takes some doing with some of the bozo’s weve had at this club!)

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 11, 2007 at 2:32 PM

    Comment #18

    Here’s a piece on some of the worst signings ever – Ali Dia is in there – see greg’s comment above – as is Hugo Viana.

  • Outlaw

    Jun 11, 2007 at 3:56 PM

    Comment #19

    The only big problem is Shepherd and Sou-mess needs to keep his mouth shut!…

    ““During my time at Newcastle and Glenn Roeder’s time we had money to spend but it was to TART THE TEAM UP, not to build a team…”??! wtf! – More like he ripped it apart!

  • Ed Harrison

    Jun 11, 2007 at 3:56 PM

    Comment #20

    bw positive – i was being cynical about Rangers – the league up there is woeful – Celtic and Rangers – and that’s it every year. I share your enthusiasm for our future and think Sam has made a good start at Newcastle – in fact he’s been surprisingly good. Look forward to seeing the lads give 100% every minute of every game – that’s a change – but what we want to see.


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