Souness stresses value of Shearer to the quiet revolution

The younger Graeme Souness would have pinned Kieron Dyer to the wall, counted the days until Alan Shearer's retirement and made plans to rip the heart out of Newcastle United. The older, milder, wiser Souness will be doing no such thing. On his first day at St James' Park, he talked of merely having to tinker with what Sir Bobby Robson had built, of persuading Shearer to lead Newcastle's attack beyond his planned farewell in May and, as for Dyer, he employed the word "education" more than Tony Blair in an election campaign.

"If Alan Shearer scores 20 goals, I'll be plaguing him not to retire, if he scores 15 I'll still be plaguing him," Souness said. "Do you want 15 goals in the Premier League? Go and ask any manager today and they will bite your hand off.

"I see him as someone who is invaluable to me. I went to Liverpool when I was 22, I was the finished article in my opinion, I knew the answers to every question and I got bashed up verbally by the senior players for the first couple of months. They had a European Cup medal and half-a-dozen championships. I learned so much from them and, when I became a senior pro, I like to think I passed that information down the line."

Dyer, booed when he played for England at St James' Park and whose mixture of conspicuous consumption, troubled private life and tossed-away talent has a soap-opera quality, will receive a clean slate and sympathy.

"Who, at 22, 23 and 24 doesn't make a mistake? Who at that age does not need educating and need an arm put round them?" Souness asked. "He has learned something in the last couple of weeks about life. But, if you keep making the mistakes, you're a dope if you want to play at this level.

"If you analyse a young footballer's life, he's going to be told he's fantastic by his family, his mates, the media and the manager comes on and says: 'hold on, you didn't play well on Saturday, in fact you were crap'.

"Part of my job is educating these players and I'm better suited to doing that at 51 than I was at 33 when I became manager of Rangers."

At Ibrox, where he shook Rangers by the throat until they became successful, Souness confessed to being "too aggressive, too confrontational".

Like George Graham, Souness is a playboy turned disciplinarian and now he smiles at memories of his younger self. "I was young once, nobody liked a night out more than me and I used to come here for one. The players have to understand that now is a different time. I don't believe there's a group of monsters in that dressing-room who need a big stick. There are a group of young men - and I've got sons that age - who need educating... that outside this goldfish bowl called football, the world is a very different place."

With a two-year contract, which will become a one-year rolling deal in 2006, Souness's first task is to strengthen a central defence undermined by the sale of Jonathan Woodgate to Real Madrid. With no transfers possible until January, the only solution has been to offer the 35-year-old Ronny Johnsen, without a club since being released by Aston Villa, a contract until Christmas. It is not quite the "pleasant surprise" the Newcastle chairman, Freddy Shepherd, said would result from Woodgate's sale.

The expectation is enormous, not least because of the quality of player he has inherited. Souness argues he works best in footballing cauldrons; in Liverpool, Glasgow and Istanbul. That intensity was something he missed at Blackburn and he said the time was right for him to go; a notion shared by anyone watching Rovers' abject display at St James' on Saturday.

"When I went to work for Rangers and Liverpool, they were in decline. I had a group of players at Rangers I had to change dramatically. When I went to Liverpool the players were past their peak and the number of testimonials I had at Anfield demonstrates that. Here, I am inheriting a group of footballers who are only going to get better; financially the club is in great nick, everything is in place."

Job on the Tyne: recent managers

Sir Bobby Robson 1999-04

Current status: Unemployed.

Ruud Gullit 1998-1999

Current status: Manager of Feyenoord.

Kenny Dalglish 1997-1998

Current status: Linked to high-profile jobs when they arise.

Kevin Keegan 1992-1997

Current status: Manager of Manchester City.

Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice