Souness appointed Newcastle manager

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The Independent Football

Graeme Souness has quit as manager at Blackburn and has been appointed as the new manager of Newcastle, it was announced today.

The 51-year-old Scot will take over next Monday, two days after his new club meets his old one in the Barclays Premiership at St James' Park.

The United chairman Freddy Shepherd handed him the task of following in Sir Bobby Robson's footsteps at St James' Park job after his predecessor was shown the door following a poor run of results.

"Graeme Souness leaves Blackburn Rovers today to take up the position of team manager of Newcastle United," a Newcastle statement said.

"Souness, who has been in talks with Blackburn and Newcastle over the weekend, will take up his new post next Monday, September 13, after a week's 'garden leave', covering Newcastle United's Barclays Premier League match against Blackburn at St James' Park next Saturday.

"Accordingly, a press conference will be held next Monday at St James' Park."

Souness' appointment came as a surprise after days of speculation which has thrown the names of Terry Venables and Steve Bruce to the top of the pile.

The former Liverpool midfielder had been mentioned as a candidates but was thought to be well down the shortlist as David O'Leary and Gordon Strachan were touted.

Venables' revelation yesterday that he had held talks with the Magpies saw his stock rise once again, but Shepherd made his move yesterday to get his man.

Blackburn have confirmed they have reached "a satisfactory level of compensation" with Newcastle after they agreed to an approach from the Tyneside outfit to speak to Souness.

Rovers chief executive John Williams said: "My reading of the situation is quite clear.

"Graeme is very reluctant to leave a job he considers one of the best in the business, but he views Newcastle as a massive opportunity and one he cannot resist. We wish him well for the future and thank him for four successful years.

"But now is the time to look forward and we need to focus all our energies on finding Graeme's successor.

"We have an excellent squad of players and have a lot to offer the new manager, not least a financially stable club, and we expect considerable interest in the position.

"It is time to move on, we know what we are looking for and anticipate a very strong list of applicants."

At the end of last season Souness had vowed to be a calmer influence on his Rovers squad.

The promise came after reports of a training-ground row with striker Dwight Yorke when the Trinidad and Tobago striker tackled his manager.

"Passions run high at training grounds and that was an incident in which that happened," Souness told the Lancashire Evening Telegraph after the incident.

"There was nothing more to it than that. Nothing happened before it and nothing will happen after it."

The 51-year-old then fell out with Yorke over the striker's busy social life and the striker left for Birmingham on the day the transfer window closed. That move came after assurances that Yorke was part of Blackburn's plans for the season.

Midfielder David Dunn - also now with Birmingham - was another who clashed with Souness when he was at Ewood Park, again over his social life.

The fiery Scot was also fined £10,000 and warned to his future conduct last season for comments made after a 1-0 win against Tottenham.

Souness was charged with abusive and/or insulting language to a referee Graham Poll - although he denied the charge.

But his determination to stay calm during this campaign was apparent when his side conceded a late equaliser to Manchester United last month.

The referee played four minutes of injury time and missed Louis Saha's handball which set up Alan Smith's dramatic late strike.

Souness said after the game: "There are a couple of things I would like to go into, but I can't.

"If I do it only works against you, so I will simply say I am delighted with a point given we only had one point before today."

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