The appointment of Graeme Souness was the very worst of the decisions that John Hall and Freddy Shepherd made, when running Newcastle United.
Maybe there was a case for phasing in a replacement for Sir Bobby Robson but their handling of his sacking and choice of replacement was disgraceful.
Dropping to fifth in the 2003/04 season and out of the Champions League placings was seen as a major disappointment at the time but surely you only decide it is time for change, if you have a better option in front of you.
Whilst Sir Bobby was guiding Newcastle to fifth, Graeme Souness had almost taken Blackburn into the Championship.
With only eight wins in the first 32 matches, many Blackburn fans wanted him sacked as Rovers looked destined for relegation, only for a Pardew-style fluke run of four wins in the final six games saved them/Souness.
Sir Bobby Robson was sacked by Shepherd and Hall after two defeats and two draws at the start of the 2004/05 season, so they brought in Graeme Souness who had started the season with…two defeats and two draws.
Before Graeme Souness took charge, Newcastle actually played Blackburn. The dire visitors were stuffed by a John Carver (in a caretaker role) led Newcastle, the Toon fans sadly getting an idea of the disaster that awaited them, after seeing the state of the opposition.
Newcastle actually paid(!!) compensation to Blackburn when landing Souness, with rumours rife at the Blackburn end of things that they had been due to sack him before NUFC came along with their dream scenario and actually gave them cash for him.
Graeme Souness now has a new autobiography coming out and it is being serialised in the Sunday Times, not surprisingly he is trying to use his time at Newcastle to help sell it.
“When I was offered the Newcastle job in 2004, my first thought was: “I will be the one to prod this sleeping giant awake.’
“I vividly remember the first time I went there.
“I was in an executive box with Sir John Hall and Freddy Shepherd, the directors, when Freddy’s wife turned to me and said: ‘So you are the lion tamer, are you?’
“There was a feeling at the club that under Sir Bobby Robson, the young bucks in the squad had been able to run wild, generally being disruptive.
“So they needed the new man to get things under control.”
Kevin Keegan had awoken the sleeping giant and then after Dalglish & Gullit had done their best to ruin his legacy, Sir Bobby Robson came along and revived the slumbering giant once again.
Newcastle weren’t a ‘sleeping giant’ that needing waking up, they were a club with a team that needed a bit of a fine tuning maybe and a couple of decent signings, instead we got the disaster of Graeme Souness and the near £40m recruitment of Boumsong, Owen, and Luque.
In their 11 seasons in the Premier League, only four times had Newcastle finished outside the top six, and under Sir Bobby it had been fourth, third, and fifth, in the immediate three years before Souness’ arrival. The new manager took United to their then lowest ever PL placing of 14th.
The following season, Newcastle fans were saved when at last Graeme Souness was sacked after a December 2005/January 2006 run of five defeats and one draw in six games. Glenn Roeder was promoted to manager and Alan Shearer became player/assistant, the pair performing miracles, winning 10 and only losing three of the final 15 matches – which took Newcastle into seventh and an Intertoto Cup spot, which eventually led to UEFA Cup qualification.
The Newcastle United Premier League finishes: