Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Breathing Space

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Breathing Space

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Graeme Souness emerged from a brief meeting with Freddie Shepherd last night with his job still intact and a private assurance from Newcastle United's chairman that he will be given more time to reverse his side's Premiership slump.

There had been frenzied speculation over the weekend that Souness was on the brink of the sack following the 1-0 home defeat to his former club Blackburn Rovers on Saturday and the demonstration from a few hundred fans who angrily demanded his removal.

When reports surfaced suggesting United's manager was going to be dragged in for showdown talks with Shepherd yesterday morning, it was widely assumed the Scot was on his way out of St James's Park after less than 18 months as manager.

But it seems that Shepherd ( who has previously been accused of being too hasty in his decisions to part company with Newcastle managers ( has proven to be a more patient boss than many first thought.

"I have popped in for a brief chat with the chairman, which was very amicable," Souness told The Journal as he returned home in good spirits from St James's Park yesterday evening.

"We talked about the match on Saturday and he told me he was supportive and that he was behind me. I'm fine and it was all very positive."

That position is likely to change dramatically if the Magpies crash out of the FA Cup at League Two side Cheltenham Town on Saturday, but for now it seems Souness' determination to dig in and fight for his job has paid off.

Nevertheless, until a public show of support is given to the manager from the boardroom, speculation is bound to continue that his job is still under threat.

Those close to Shepherd have consistently argued that the only reason Souness remains in the manager's chair is because the club cannot afford to sack him after their lavish transfer spending in the summer which included the signing of England international Michael Owen for pounds 16. …

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