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Graeme Souness sparks a debate – Leaver or Remainer at Newcastle United?

4 years ago

How interesting that Graeme Souness, who has worked in Italy, Spain and Portugal, told television viewers that he voted to leave the European Union.

“I voted to leave,” he said, after making comments as a summariser about foreign football and, in consequence, had been asked by the anchorman (jokingly) whether he was in favour of Brexit. “I don’t believe we live in a democracy. I don’t like people who are unelected telling me what I can and can’t do. I didn’t choose them to do that.”

I am not making any point about Brexit here. I merely regard this tiny revelation as interesting because Souness has previously indicated he voted in favour of Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom. It is perhaps curious he adamantly supports a policy that is likely to impel the break-up of the domestic union.

But the interest in this newly discovered facet of Souness’ world view is easily exhausted. I fell to wondering how other managers of Newcastle United might have voted. On the basis we are never likely to find out, and disregarding minor obstacles to certitude such as the fact that some are long dead, I have decided to undertake an audit by means of guesswork and instinct.

Joe Harvey: he would have fought in the war, which was an experience that had different effects on different people. He famously said of Ujpest Dozsa that if we hit them once they would cave, which might have been an assessment of the team, but might have represented his view of foreigners generally. Crucially, though, he was best mates with Arthur Cox, who I have down as a Remainer. And there was a romantic side to Harvey’s approach, a love of wingers and a desire to entertain rather than preserve the point and the draw we started with, and also a deep understanding of the Geordies; though not one himself, he was at home with us. These are characteristics, I believe, of those who would have identified as European. Remainer.

Gordon Lee: he would have vetoed the signing of Pele on the grounds that he was black, according to Lord Westwood, though he rated Paul Cannell and Geoff Nulty. He refused to countenance a black player at Newcastle. Leaver.

Richard Dinnis: he used to put players in his own chair during team meetings, and would sit with the team and listen to everyone else. Hopeless manager; plainly liberal-inclined. Remainer.

Bill McGarry: he remains perhaps the manager with the most boneheaded image of all time. His favourite phrase, according to Tommy Cassidy, was ‘on yer bike’. This was long before Norman Tebbit made it mainstream. He picked cloggers, and rated Jamie Scott and Peter Cartwright. But he signed the immortal Alan Shoulder, and also John Connolly, a very good player in the old Second Division, as well as Peter Withe. On balance though: Leaver.

Arthur Cox: a very talented man with an impoverished vocabulary. His teams were a million times more articulate than the man himself, and fluid along continental lines between midfield and attack. Genuine friends with Keegan. Remainer.

Jack Charlton: bone idle, self-regarding self-promoter who never informed his loyal first team coach Maurice Setters (whom he expected to follow him everywhere) of his intention to resign whenever he formed such an intention. Setters himself said Charlton was ‘selfish’. This is a characteristic of someone without a broad outlook. Glenn Roeder said at a talk-in that he was the worst coach he ever played under, and the only person who disagreed with this assessment was Charlton himself. So: a person of fixed views. As Ireland manager he brought a whiff of World Cup glamour, a sense of humour, and an ability to go to the most dangerous pubs and fit right in. He was a cheerleader for the Anglosphere. Leaver.

Iam McFaul: he made his home over here for many years and also went off to manage the Guam national side. A proud citizen of nowhere. Signed Mirandinha. Mates with Glenn Roeder. Remainer.

Jim Smith: he sold Mirandinha and didn’t buy anyone as colourful. More pertinently, liked to be in charge of everyone and everything. Would love the idea of taking back control. Declared Newcastle to be ‘unmanageable’ during Sir John Hall’s manoeuvrings, for reasons I have never really understood. It was far more unmanageable when the likes of Wing Commander Rush were in charge. His default position was to put his total faith in Scotsmen like Roy Aitken. Leaver.

Osvaldo Ardiles: trusted in Britain in the aftermath of the war in the south Atlantic. Remainer.

Kevin Keegan: Remainer. Obviously. He signed Faustino Asprilla, for Pete’s sake. Philippe, Philippe, Philippe Albert!

Kenny Dalglish: grudging, miserable, truculent, blinkered. Wonderful player, of course. But … in the Souness mould. I think. Not sure. Leaver.

Ruud Gullit: I bet he’d have been a Leaver. Plenty of Dutch people are. Key fact: he hated Alan Shearer’s dominance in the dressing room because he saw it as a challenge to his own authority, rather than a lever he could employ to his own advantage.

Sir Bobby: a football renaissance man, with experience all over the world. Fundamentally a patriot, and above everything else a lover of the beautiful game, and at ease with great continental players and managers. Remainer.

Glenn Roeder: hated Jack Charlton. A defender who found it useful and thought it desirable to acquire and demonstrate skill on the ball. Took Newcastle back into Europe, won the Intertoto, and then tried to play a continental counter-attacking game against the likes of AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA. Scorer of the most hilarious own goal in cup history as a result of a progressive inclination. Remainer.

Sam Allardyce: Leaver. So much of a Leaver. Fan of hugely numerous backroom staff, which is not indicative, in my view, of a broad and continental outlook, but insecurity and desire for control.

Joe Kinnear: I wonder.

Alan Shearer: clearly comfortable with arch snowflake Gary Lineker. But no overseas experience other than with the national side. Not a linguist. Chose to live in Darras Hall, a very retro neighbourhood, though of course handy for the airport. Again, not sure, but … Leaver.

Alan Pardew: any suggestions? Plenty of experience of foreign players, and many of them have played well for him. On the other hand, at Newcastle, he was happy for all players, including foreigners, to be scouted and signed by other personnel at Newcastle. Deeply cynical. I suspect … Leaver.

John Carver: Remainer. Dunno why.

Steve McClaren: who can forget his fluency in foreign languages when being asked questions in English by a foreign interviewer? Who else could have imagined that, when talking English in a funny accent, it would have persuaded people who actually did speak Dutch that he was speaking Dutch? Shows willing. Very good record with foreign players. Very good coach open to continental notions. Remainer.

Rafa Benitez: a Remainer. He has, after all, remained.

Your views would be welcome. I am open to all views.


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