Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Souness Has to Fit Together the Pieces of His Big Puzzle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Souness Has to Fit Together the Pieces of His Big Puzzle

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Graeme Souness believes the Newcastle squad beaten 4-1 by Fulham is the best he's worked with. Chief Sports Writer Simon Rushworth presents a case for getting the best out of the best.

Twice in four days two of the Newcastle players who have suffered most as a result of Graeme Souness' quest for tactical perfection repeated the same self-motivating sentence. In the wake of Thursday night's comfortable if unconvincing victory over Dinamo Tbilisi, Craig Bellamy said: "I know, and the manager knows, what my best position is."

Seeking solace in the fact that Souness knows he is best employed as an onrushing centre-forward, the Welshman hid well his obvious dissatisfaction at another frustrating night hugging the flanks.

Four days later Jermaine Jenas delivered an equally forthright impersonation of a player quite willing to let his natural talent lie dormant for the good of the team.

"I think the manager knows, and I know, that my best position is in central midfield," insisted United's England international.

In reassuring himself, Jenas simply highlighted the obvious problem at the root of the Magpies' recent inconsistency. Newcastle's manager may recognise the true value of key personnel, but he has yet to field his strongest team.

If Souness has identified Bellamy as best suited to a goal-scoring role ( and on current form the 25-year-old clearly deserves his place up front ( then why post the fleet-footed striker out wide?

And if, as Newcastle's boss has intimated in the past, Jenas is a natural central midfielder then why is he consistently overlooked in favour of less effective team-mates?

Against Fulham on Sunday, Souness had the opportunity to use the best midfielders and attackers at his disposal ( bar Kieron Dyer ( in the positions best suited to their particular talents. The former Liverpool manager missed his chance.

Fortunately for Souness, Chelsea offer a second bite at the tactical cherry and the time has come to see Jenas and Nicky Butt in tandem at the heart of United's midfield. …

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