Advocaat tempted by vacancy at Blackburn

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Daick Advocaat, the former Netherlands coach, yesterday submitted his application to be the next manager of Blackburn Rovers but he faces stiff competition from around 30 "high quality" rivals.

Daick Advocaat, the former Netherlands coach, yesterday submitted his application to be the next manager of Blackburn Rovers but he faces stiff competition from around 30 "high quality" rivals.

Advocaat, who also managed Rangers, is understood to have applied for the job vacated by Graeme Souness after speaking with one of the players at Blackburn. Mark Hughes, the Wales manager who was a player at Ewood Park, remains the favourite but the Rovers chief executive, John Williams, said the club is spoilt for choice.

"A number of high quality candidates have thrown their hats into the ring and we are now in a position to draw up a shortlist with a view to making an early appointment if possible," Williams said. "We are probably done now in terms of getting all the names in, although that doesn't mean to say we'll rule out any late enquiries. But we know who the runners and riders are and we can now start working on our selection process."

Dean Saunders, the Blackburn coach under Souness, has left Blackburn to join Newcastle after he was told that he was not in the running to take over as manager at Rovers. "Graeme has taken the opportunity to go to Newcastle and he has asked me to go with him," Saunders said. "It's a great opportunity for Graeme and myself, so I'm really looking forward to it. It's a great club."

Tony Parkes will continue as caretaker for a sixth time at Blackburn. He was caretaker for 30 games after Ray Harford resigned in 1996 and out of his 70 games in charge, Rovers have won 27 and lost 20.

Souness, meanwhile, is determined to persuade Newcastle fans he is the right man for the job by doing everything within his power to end their 35-year wait for a trophy.

The Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd caught the football world by surprise when he announced on Monday that Souness would replace Sir Bobby Robson as manager, and the news was not received with unbridled joy in the city.

However, the former Blackburn manager admits he does not care about the initial reaction, just what lies ahead when he takes over next Monday.

"I keep hearing that I wasn't first choice for the job," he said. "But I don't care if I was 10th or 25th choice for the Newcastle United job, and I think and believe I am the best man for it.

"I could not be more delighted that I have got it and I am quite naturally hoping to bring some success to Newcastle United. My thinking is that I am taking over a fantastic situation with Newcastle United Football Club.

"If ever a club was geared to success, then that club is Newcastle United. In fact, there isn't a team in the Premiership like them.

"I don't think even Roy Keane could describe Newcastle fans as 'the prawn sandwich brigade'," Souness added. "In fact, I would say Newcastle United fans are unique in the Premiership. They remind me of the Rangers fans in Glasgow. Like those fans, Newcastle United is the most important thing in their lives.

"Newcastle supporters have so much passion and when I've been there, my recollection is that they are up and out of their seats backing their team, and I love that.

"Of course, when you have a passionate crowd like that you have to produce it on the field. You have no idea just how excited I am about coming to Newcastle United and I cannot wait for Monday."

Souness' mandate will be to restore stability at the club and reverse a poor start to the season which has seen the Magpies take just two points from the first 12 on offer. However, amid talk that he will take firm measures in an attempt to bring order to a dressing room full of strong personalities, he has played down his disciplinarian reputation. "You would think I was going to come in and nail people to the wall judging by what I have heard and read," he said. "But that's not the way it's going to be.

"Yes, I have discipline in my own life and I expect every Newcastle United player to be disciplined. I want every player to respect each other and everything connected with the football club. If they do that, then there won't be any problems. In any case, I am not the horrible hard man people seem to think I am. If you don't believe me, just ask my wife."