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What went wrong for Souness?

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By Chris Bevan, BBC Sport


Graeme Souness' troubled reign as Newcastle United manager is over after 16 months.


His time at St James' Park was undermined by a catalogue of injuries and a lack of belief in his abilities by Magpies supporters.


A poor return on some of his expensive signings and several dreadful performances ultimately sealed his fate.


Despite spending over £47m on players he managed only 36 wins in his 83 games in charge - and leaves with the club just six points above the Premiership relegation zone.


So was it bad luck or poor judgement that led to his downfall?


BBC Sport looks at what went wrong for Souness at Newcastle.



Souness cannot claim he was not given the full backing of chairman Freddy Shepherd and the Newcastle board.


The Magpies boss had a deficit of £30m in transfer dealings after a series of - mostly unsuccessful - multi-million pound purchases.


No-one is doubting the quality of Michael Owen or Scott Parker - and when fit, neither let Souness down.


But the likes of Jean-Alain Boumsong (£8m), Albert Luque (£9m) and Emre (£3.8m) have all failed to impress - and the Souness spending spree means there is little left in the St James' Park coffers.



Owen, Parker, Emre, Stephen Carr, Kieron Dyer, Steve Taylor, Shola Ameobi and Craig Moore have all spent more time in the Newcastle treatment room than on the pitch this season.


That kind of injury list would affect any club - and Souness saw it as the main reason for his side's poor form.


When Owen broke his foot on New Years Eve it was in many ways the final nail in the coffin for the Magpies boss.


With the England striker fit, Newcastle always looked dangerous - but without him they have not won in the Premiership and scored only twice in four league games.



Newcastle fans made it clear they did not want Souness in charge almost as soon as he was appointed.


Bolton boss Sam Allardyce, Birmingham manager Steve Bruce and former England manager Terry Venables had all been linked with the job before Souness arrived from Blackburn.


Supporters felt his previous record did not suggest he would be successful, and also criticised his abrasive managerial style.


They called for his head barely three months into his reign - and with practically zero support from the stands it is perhaps surprising he lasted as long as he did.



When he arrived, Souness was seen as the tough disciplinarian that the club needed to control some of their wayward stars.


The legacy of Robson's five-year reign was deep-rooted dressing-room unrest, with Dyer's refusal to play one game on the wing an example of how the players thought they ruled the roost.


An iron fist was seen as the answer and public spats with Craig Bellamy and Laurent Robert - leading to them both leaving the club - reinforced the view that Souness was the man for the job.


But when Dyer and Lee Bowyer exchanged blows on the St James' Park pitch during Newcastle's defeat by Aston Villa in April, some felt it showed that Souness had failed to end the instability.


His decision to stick by the pair brought more criticism from fans who felt the incident brought shame to the club.



Did Souness always feel he was on borrowed time, with 'manager-in-waiting' Alan Shearer being touted for the job at every opportunity?


The presence of Shearer has already proved too much for some Newcastle managers - Ruud Gullit being a case in point.


Souness quickly got him on side by intimating he was his natural successor, but with hindsight, was that really the best idea?


Shearer is understood to prefer a media career to one in management when he finishes playing in the summer - but he has already been installed as temporary assistant to caretaker boss Glenn Roeder.



Any manager is ultimately judged on results - and sadly for Souness he did not produce.


He reached the semi-final of the FA Cup and the quarter-final of the Uefa Cup last season but that was as close as he got to ending Newcastle's 37-year wait for a major trophy.


In the league, his side's inconsistency saw them flounder to 14th place in 2004/05 - their worst Premiership finish - a far cry from the three previous campaigns under Robson that saw Newcastle finish second, third and fifth.


This season has been even worse, with the Champions League remaining a distant dream and a run of one point from their last six games leaving them embroiled in a relegation battle.


Newcastle are still in the FA Cup, but apart from top-flight survival, it is all they have left to play for.



When Souness arrived at Newcastle he had four main objectives:


To get the best out of an under-achieving squad, unite a divided dressing room, get the doubting fans behind him - and win some trophies.


He managed none of those - so it is no surprise he finds himself out of a job.

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