Managerial Review: Graeme Souness
Graeme Souness left Blackburn Rovers, ending his four year stay at Ewood Park, to take over the job on Tyneside. Two days before his arrival, John Carver took temporary charge for the visit of Blackburn and comfortably ran out 3-0 winners (yes, John Carver won a game while in charge, more on him later in this article series).
Following a winless start to the season under Bobby Robson, Souness' best period as manager of the club came in his first six weeks providing something of a honeymoon period; he failed to lose his first nine matches in charge (all competitions), winning seven of those. This provided a recovery in the league as well as hitting the ground running in the UEFA Cup.
As far as on and off the field matters are concerned, Souness was a completely different manager that Robson was. Players had to adjust to both new tactics (or lack of them as Shay Given mentioned in his autobiography) and new boundaries. The tide was turning amongst the players at the club but not necessarily for the right reasons.
It became apparent that several players rebelled and fell out with the Scotsman. It was widely reported that Craig Bellamy was dissatisfied with the manager and was also in dispute with teammate, Alan Shearer, who was arguably, at this time of his career, focusing on becoming the club's record goalscorer.
Hugo Viana unfortunately fell out of favour and was never selected to play. Laurent Robert felt the need to go public with his criticism and, of course, who can forget about the famous fight between Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer. To sum up, there was a lot of rebellious activity which I personally believe would never have happened if Robson was still in charge. Please note that all of this occurred in the first eight months or so of Souness' time so, if it had not been for getting harshly sacked, Robson would have still been at the club.
Graeme Souness has not managed since his sacking from the club in February 2006, something that is probably best for every football team.
Date: 13th September 2004 to 2nd February 2006 (507 days)
League: Played: 56, Won: 16, Drawn: 17, Lost: 23, Goals for: 58, Goals against: 76, Goal difference: -18, Pts: 65. Win ratio: 29%
Home (league): Played: 26, Won: 10, Drawn: 10, Lost: 6, Goals for: 30, Goals against: 31, Goal difference: -1, Pts: 40. Win ratio: 38%
Away (league): Played: 30, Won: 6, Drawn: 7, Lost: 17, Goals for: 28, Goals against: 45, Goal difference: -17, Pts: 25. Win ratio: 20%.
Domestic Cup: Played: 11, Won: 8, Drawn: 0, Lost: 3, Goals for: 14, Goals against: 9, Goal difference: +5. Win ratio: 73%
Europe: Played: 16, Won: 12, Drawn: 1, Lost: 3, Goals for: 35, Goals against: 14, Goal difference: +21. Win ratio: 75%
Home (all competitions): Played: 40, Won: 21, Drawn: 11, Lost: 8, Goals for: 53, Goals against: 39, Goal difference: +14. Win ratio: 53%
Away (all competitions): Played: 42, Won: 15, Drawn: 7, Lost: 20, Goals for: 53, Goals against: 56, Goal difference: -3. Win ratio: 36%
Total: Played: 82, Won: 36, Drawn: 18, Lost: 28, Goals for: 106, Goals against: 95, Goal difference: +11. Win ratio: 44%
Season by Season
Premier League: 14th (Played: 33, Won: 9, Drawn: 12, Lost: 12, Goals for: 38, Goals against: 48, Goal difference: -10, Pts: 39)
League Cup: 4th Round (v Chelsea)
FA Cup: Semi-Final (v Man United)
UEFA Cup: Quarter-Final (v Sporting Lisbon)
Premier League: (Played: 23, Won: 7, Drawn: 5, Lost: 11, Goals for: 20, Goals against: 28, Goal difference: -8, Pts: 26)
League Cup: 4th Round (v Wigan)
FA Cup: Awaiting 5th Round tie at the time of departure.
Southampton 1 Newcastle United 2 (David Prutton own goal 45, Stephen Carr 57) - (19/09/2004)
Exactly five years after Sir Bobby Robson got his first win as Newcastle manager in the 8-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, Graeme Souness, interestingly the next manager to take the hot seat, gets his first win as Newcastle manager.
Alan Shearer played a key part in David Prutton's own goal to open the scoring just before half time. Southampton's playmaker, Anders Svensson equalised for the Saints shortly after the restart but a wonder goal from full back, Stephen Carr proved to be the winner just before the hour mark. Funnily enough, despite making a further 223 appearances after this match before retiring in 2013, this goal was the last goal of Carr's career.
Newcastle United 4 (Kieron Dyer 18, Alan Shearer 45, 69, Lee Bowyer 54) Olympiacos 0 - (16/03/2005)
Newcastle played out a convincing 3-1 win in the first leg in Greece a week before the home tie in the Round of 16 in the UEFA Cup. With ease, the job was successfully completed thanks to a double from Alan Shearer. Two weeks before their famous on-field bust up, Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer made the headlines for the right reasons by getting on the scoresheet to provide Graeme Souness with his biggest win as Newcastle manager.
Cheltenham Town 0 Newcastle United 2 (Michael Chopra 41, Scott Parker 43) - (28/01/2006)
Michael Chopra and Scott Parker scored their first goals for the club as we went on to beat Cheltenham in the fourth round of the FA Cup on a Saturday lunch time. This is the last time that Souness has won a game as a manager. Despite reaching the fifth round of the competition, Souness was sacked the following Thursday after getting outclassed by Man City. At the time of his sacking, the club had only gained one point (thanks to a 93rd minute equaliser from Lee Clark - his final career goal) out of the previous six games. Courtesy of this, relegation was a possibility that was very much alive.
Further landmark matches
Biggest defeat: Chelsea 4 - 0 Newcastle United (04/12/2004)
Last match: Manchester City 3 - 0 Newcastle United (01/02/2006)