As I flicked on the Arsenal game on Monday night, I sat there listening to Graeme Souness talk about football.

It turns out he is on my TV yet again because Rafa Benitez cancelled at the last minute, due to the side’s poor performance at the weekend.

I do find it funny how they manage to get Souness on Sky often enough as some sort of expert on Newcastle United because he was our manager once upon a time. It is just a shame that they never ask him any questions about when he was at the club. Funny that isn’t it?

At a time when Newcastle United fans are reminiscing what it was like to be a proper football club before Mike Ashley, it is important to go back even further to the man who started the decline. Graeme Souness.

He said on Sky “The frustration goes back decades” – well not quite Graeme, it probably can go back to about 14 years ago, to when you were appointed.

Graeme Souness took over as Newcastle manager after a few games of the 2004/2005 season to replace Bobby Robson. In the previous campaign, Newcastle finished 5th in the Premier League. The two seasons before that they qualified for the Champions League. So suffice to say, Souness took over a side that was one of the best in England, and in the top 20 in Europe.

The question can arguably be asked, was he even qualified to do the job?

His record as a manager, even before his disastrous last spell at Newcastle United, leaves a lot to be desired. Granted, Souness did well in his first spell as Rangers manager, although managing in the SPL is never a yard stick for how good a manager is… see Ronny Deila.

Souness then got his big break at Liverpool. He took a Liverpool team that were title contenders every season to a side that within a few years couldn’t even compete with Newcastle United ironically. His next spell in Turkey is only remembered for him sticking a flag in the middle of the Fenerbahce pitch when he was Galatasaray manager.  He then took over at Southampton and didn’t do anything at all, except give a debut to Ali Dia. An incredible story.

So what do we have so far? Did well at Rangers, failed at Liverpool and did nothing of note at Southampton and Galatasaray.

Graeme then lasted four months at Torino, and an equally short time at Benfica. Two more failures to add to his CV. In all honesty, he did well to get the Blackburn Rovers job. In truth, Souness did a good job at Blackburn, he guided them to one top six finish, and kept them in the Premier League safely before he was forced out by the fans.

I don’t think that is a glittering record that warranted him taking over at Newcastle. Perhaps the only reason he got the job was because he was seen as a ‘hard man’ who would get the best out of the young players in the dressing room who arguably got Bobby the sack in the end.

A lot has been made of Rafa Benitez lately with some fans saying ‘he should be doing more with the squad at his disposal’. That statement is quite laughable in itself, when you realize people are referring to Perez, Joselu etc. So if you think Rafa should be criticised then what on earth does Souness deserve?

As mentioned, Souness took over a side that had played previous seasons in the Champions League and finished fourth, third fifth in the Premier League. I would compare it today to taking over at Spurs.

He was left with a squad that included Shay Given, Nicky Butt, Alan Shearer, Craig Bellamy, Patrick Kluivert, Laurent Robert and young talents James Milner and Charles N’Zogbia.

In short, Souness took over one of the most successful Newcastle teams in the club’s history.

Oddly enough, Souness got off to a flying start but it quickly deteriorated and Newcastle amazingly ended up finishing 14th! Can you imagine the uproar, or ridicule, a manager would receive today if he took a top five team to 14th in nothing short of a season? It is quite incredible when you think about it.

I wonder if Graeme Souness has ever been questioned on his transfer spending when he took over at Newcastle? His first four signings were free agent Ronny Johnsen, Jean Alain Boumsong, Celestine Babayaro and Amdy Faye. I am actually chuckling to myself as I write this. That is around £13 million on those four players. In the same January window, he sold Olivier Bernard and Craig Bellamy, two players who had been Champions League starters under Bobby Robson.

You know what though Graeme, lets give you the benefit of the doubt. Make your own signings, spent a little bit of money and you can get the team to play your way.

The following summer Souness dismantled more of the Robson Champions League squad by permanently selling O’Brian, Bellamy, Jenas, Viana, as well as Laurent Robert and James Milner out on loan.

He would spend around £40 million in the summer, including record signing Michael Owen. So no excuses really? Yet he managed to dismantle a Champions League team and turn them into a bottom half side in the space of a season and a half.

He can only be described as an utter failure and the man who dismantled one of the best Newcastle United sides of recent memory.

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  • Themoscow72

    Yes the game was up long before Ashley took over. The three seasons before we finished 13th, 7th and 14th with 43, 58 and forty four points. The season before he took over we finished 5 points above relegation. Nearly every season the bank account has been empty with the exception of 2011 and 2015 when we bought players.
    It will take a cash rich owner to get us back in the top six as things have moved on since the days of Hall and Shepherd.

    • Geordie-7676

      Net spend of 32million, debt increase of 68million……FCB is a leach and the sooner you realise it the better it will be for you, and everyone else!

      • Themoscow72

        When he took over the net debt was £148m current assets £8m minus liabilities £156m is what counts.

        • Geordie-7676

          You are absolutely, categorically lying through the skin of your teeth……either that or you have said it so many times that you have somehow managed to convince yourself it is fact!

          For what you are saying to be true, considering that the clubs debt now currently stands at £144million, (not £156million), that would mean that the debt would have to be the same now as it was when he bought it, but we know for a fact that the debt has increased; he took £10million back in the summer, from loans given in the relegation season, and is apparently taking another 22 by the end of this year. If that was an additional loan on top of the £144million that you say was there when he bought it, then why didn’t the last accounts show £176million debt? I can tell you why – your full of s**t.

          When Ashley took over, the club had a total debt of around the £76million mark – the debt now stands at 144 – it really is as simple as that.

          You can try your best to pull the wool over some eyes by quoting assets and liabilities, but the majority of us are not stupid enough to fall for your tripe. Liabilities…..what liabilities? where is this £8million liability coming from? Accounts payable? payable to who? Last years accounts already showed that liabilities are covered by operating costs, so accounts payable to who? What are they for?

          You make no sense man!

          • Sickandtired

            Take a look at St James Holdings accounts (the parent company) and they are even more freaky!
            Says in 2014 that £132,144,000 was repaid to it from 2012.
            Says it has Creditors of £141,022,000 in 2012, yet 2017 accounts says it owes £281,981,000.
            The fat F is moving money around like that penny under a cup game.

          • NUFCLX

            Take a look at MASH Holdings accounts – sorry you can’t, they are 3 months overdue.

          • Sickandtired

            MASH has got all sorts lumped in there. SJH only has the club and it’s attachments.

          • Wezza

            That £281,981,000 looks about the total he has plundered from us during his time here. Perhaps even more.

          • HarryHype59

            Which is why HMRC are investigating!

          • Themoscow72

            When he took over the current assets were £8.7m. Current liabilities repayable under a year were £127.5m and liabilities over a year were £29.4m. In short total amount owed to us £8.7m and owed out was £156.9m. This was mostly interest bearing loans, bank overdrafts, money owed for players and money repayable for the stands. So we owed net debt of £148.2m. These are Hall and Shepherds final accounts.
            So Ashley had to put in as follows
            2008 put in £105m and took £5m back leaving £100m owed.
            2009 put in £12m took £1m back leaving £111m
            2010 put in £28.8 m to leave debt at £139.8m
            2011 put in £200k to take debt to £140m
            2012 repaid £11m to take debt to £129m
            2013 no change
            2014 no change
            2015 no change
            2016 no change
            2017 put in £15m new debt £144m
            This year assumed repayment £10m new debt £134m

          • NUFCLX

            I hate to reply to u as I think u are deluded (even though I disagree with the Mag blocking your previous user names )
            I (capital I) have my own house, I borrowed 20 grand to do some work on it. It is my house, I own it, it is my debt, do you know if there is anyway I can get someone to pay me that 20 Grand back.

          • graham18

            where did you get these figures from??

          • Wezza

            He makes them up.

          • Themoscow72

            The accounts Companies House.

          • graham18

            I strongly recommend that you go further than companies house if you want a debate on finance

          • Geordie-7676

            I love it when people like you quote the figures, because it is always such a one sided input it really does make my day.

            You see what you lot love to do is miss out the final equity, and as an apparent learned accountant, you will know that this is the difference between the Assets and Liabilities – pretty simple equation really – total of what you owe against the total assets.

            Where I really enjoy myself in these situations, particularly in reference to the club debt in 2007, that YOU have just stated above totalled £127.5m, plus the £29.4m liabilities (Total £156.9) in the year he bought the club, you completely disregard that little number at the bottom of the accounts which clearly state an equity total of £80.3m in the positive.

            That is FACT, available at companies house. Now, lets look at my maths here for 2007:

            Total Debt + Liabilities = £156.9m
            Total Equity = £80.3m

            156.9 – 80.3 = 76.6 –

            Yes the club had, on paper, by only looking at the negative figures on the balance sheet a debt of £156.9, but to get a clear, accurate picture of the balance, you remove the equity figure to arrive at the REAL debt figure, £76.6m. FCB didnt finance the additional 80.3, it was the clubs money.

            Now again, i stated above that the debt now stands at £144m, a figure quoted by multiple financial experts, media outlets and the clubs books themselves. Imagine my surprise……76.6 + 68 = 144.6

            You can be as selective as you want with your ‘facts’…..there will always be someone to call you out on it. This time, it was my turn.

          • Themoscow72

            Think of it this way. He sells the current assets and gets in £8m. He pays off the loan for the stands and all the bank loans. He is £148m out of pocket. Yes there are other assets in the club and you could argue that the intangible assets are his but they are readily available to realise. The £148m was the net position where he were paying big interest payments for. Also he had no choice but to pay the stands off as it was in the small print. However accept that your point that he was left with the value of the playing staff as it’s not as if he could sell the stands.

          • Geordie-7676

            Your wrong on so many levels.

          • Themoscow72

            Not wrong at all unless he sells assets Fixed Assets his net position is £148m out of pocket on day loan if he did not want to pay 11.0% interest on loans. He did a great job.

          • Wezza

            Of course he is lying, of course he doesn’t make sense. It is called trolling. I’m sure he is a Bishop troll. Seems he only trolls weekdays though!
            Note how he never once mentions parachute payments (FCB uses this as a smokescreen as if he has put money in)
            He is full of it and so is the FCB. He just uses this so called ‘debt’ as an excuse to plunder the club.
            Just block this little troll. There is no point arguing with it, he twists facts.

          • graham18

            well said

      • HarryHype59

        Block this buffoon. He is obviously on the Bishop payroll!.Probably on minimum wage to troll here and night.

    • Vincent Gigante

      You love to bring up the 5 points from relegation stat from 2006/07 but the reality is we were quite safe as we didn’t win a another game from the beginning of April to the end of the season. You also exclude the fact we were knocked out of Europe on goal difference just failing to reach the quarter finals.

  • Gerry D

    He was only successful at the old Rangers because they cheated EVERY club in Scotland using their illegal TAX avoiding EBT’s. This enabled him to far outspend any other team at the time including Celtic when he signed several top England players he could NEVER have afforded otherwise.

  • Billmag

    He should have been chased after signing Boumsong, wonder how much he made out of that deal.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Always wondered that too given his links to Rangers…..

  • MrShack66

    The decline started with Dalgleish, rallied a bit under Robson. Then total decline (albeit one season with Pardew).

    • That was probably the worst Premier League in terms of quality since we finished 5th with Coloccini, Taylor and Williamson in defense and looked like a rock at home :D

  • HarryHype59

    Finishing 14th was rightfully seen as a very poor season back then. Now it is a measure of “success” under Ashley.

    • Same thing happening with Pardew. Finished 5th then 13th the next season and wasn’t allowed to build on that number 5 finish and we could have bought 2-3 great players for 30m back then! I also blame Pardew for not insisting we compete with top 6 teams and demand a high transfer budget.

    • Carverlier football

      Imagine what Rafa could’ve done with Souness’ Newcastle squad…

    • Kneebotherm8

      Sad but true…

  • Coach Clagnut

    Souness won the League Cup with Blackburn. Fat Freddy actually paid compensation to Blackburn for his services even though it was widely acknowledged throughout football that Souness was on the brink of being sacked at the time.
    Since his sacking he’s always maintained the Owen deal was solely down to Fat Fred wanting a marquee signing and had nowt to do with him. In fact, Souness is on record claiming Owen had glass hamstrings before he took Shephard’s shilling.

    • Big Al 1967

      Spot on As much as I hate Sourness He wanted to sign Anelka but Fat Freddie would not pay the money (13 million seems to ring a bell) and he chose to go higher for the injury prone mercenary that was Owen

  • Toon

    The frustration does go back decades you muppet! Look up NUFCs history before Hall and Keegan and you will find a pretty average time with limited success. Sad thing is if we go down again under Ashley it will be the 3rd time in just over a decade which is actually unique for our club.

    • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

      what are you talking about you muppet? at what point did i say the club had a great history before Souness?


    • HarryHype59

      It is totally disgraceful in an era of massive TV money. All Fatty has to do is allow the club to spend its own mega riches, instead he treats it like a personal piggy bank!

      Ashley out!

  • Kneebotherm8

    Him and his mate Dalglish dismantled the two best teams/squads that this club has,probably,ever had.

  • LockieToon

    I blame the fans who wanted SBR gone in the first place, been downhill ever since he left.

    • Geordiegiants

      Bunch of shcit bags the lot of them! He should never of been treat like that, and they know in their own minds if they were part of it even though none of them ever seem to pipe up.

      • Big Al 1967

        Wasn’t just the fans either. Certain players had the ear of Freddie Shepherd and told tales that they weren’t happy. Fat Freddie listened and fired Sir Bobby

        • Coach Clagnut

          He and smallhall Douglas, having thrown petrol on the fire by giving the whingers the time of day in the first place, happened to twist to the conclusion that what the club needed, to bring the shytbag players to heel,( looking at you Dyer, Jenas, Bellamy) was a hard – man, old – school tyrant. Step forward Souness and hello team disintegration.

          • Big Al 1967

            Exactly, although I have it on very good authority that these 3 were not the only ones, in fact other players were directly involved in getting him the sack

  • Mirandinha9

    Arrogant bloke, I remember his deplorable crunching tackle on Special K during his farewell game against Liverpool.

  • KennySamsung

    Souness was the beginning of a downward trend for NUFC getting rid of good players to quickly. We really havn’t recovered since. Keegan and Robson were people managers who players loved, without that you cant be as successful you have to have a bit of everything as a coach and manager. There ard too many people involved on ghe club who just dont care.

  • Geordiegiants

    I remember a VERY LARGE section of the fans getting on Sir Bobbys back. They all keep quiet and say nothing as if it wasn’t them, more than 50% of our fans were giving him stick, uneffing beleivable!!

  • DeadToiler

    Bobby couldn’t have went on much longer especially as his health was deteriorating. The scum board though should have let him go on his terms, gave him a director of football role allowing him to help the new manager. This could have gave him a dignified withdrawl that he deserved. Souness is a psychopath, as evil as Trump.

  • Leazes.

    Jonathan…. look at the politics of those who were running our club, forget about the coach for a moment…. what was the brief?….

    The history of those running the club is that of calamitous reaction to events…. man manager…hard man….man manager…repeat….they’ve never known how to run the club since the earliest days look at what William McKeag was up to in his 20s and at the time of social change the birth of Labour and the fight for votes for women…. serving in the White army and decorated for leading pogroms in the caucuses and steppes!

    The attitude of the board running this club has always been there…. failure is steeped through the brickwork along with arrogance of a social elite, removed from the fans who are invited to support their club….Westwood…Hall….and now Ashley…..

    No difference…. same ship.

  • robbersdog

    The club has never really recovered from the disastrous sacking of Sir Bobby; we’ve been on the slide ever since.

  • Terry Egdell

    It’s the old ‘Liverpool Conspiracy ‘ both Dalglish and Souness ruined two different teams – Newcastle were becoming more of a threat to the ‘usual top four’ and had to be stifled. They did that alright