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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December 2004, 12:26 GMT
Robson and Souness will fight critics

By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert

Souness knows where Newcastle's problems lie and to judge him now is ludicrous and unfair
Alan Hansen

Newcastle manager Graeme Souness and his West Bromwich Albion counterpart Bryan Robson are two managers suffering the symptoms of what appears to be the new reality of football.

Just weeks into their reigns at new clubs, Souness and Robson find themselves under pressure and under fire from fans unhappy at results.

It is truly ludicrous and completely unfair - and yet a sign of the times in top-flight football these days.

The rewards for success are so great and the penalties for failure so harsh that we now have a situation where managers are supposedly fighting to save their jobs after half-a-dozen games.

It has been said recently that some people want results yesterday - I think these days people want it the day before yesterday.

I know a bit about these two characters, having played with and against them in the 70s and 80s, and the similarities are quite staggering.

Two great midfield players, born winners. Two men who would play for nothing and who are only interested in victory.

And above all, and this is the context their current predicaments should be placed in, they are two men who will fight to the very end to be successful.

Newcastle clearly want a place in the Champions League but the starting point is that the top three in terms of status and success - Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United - are light years ahead of the rest.

And whereas you could then say it was between Newcastle and Liverpool for the fourth place, times have changed this season.

Everton have been magnificent and are in there fighting - and so are Middlesbrough.

So Newcastle find themselves 16 points behind Everton, a state of affairs they would not have contemplated at the start of the season.

But to get the knife into Souness is nonsense.

He has inherited a team that has had defensive problems stretching back to the Kevin Keegan era and, as yet, he has not had the chance to sign any re-inforcements.

Souness knows the problems are in defence and he will address them. Judging him now is ludicrous.

I also have to say that in recent weeks I've seen Newcastle play Everton, Chelsea and Portsmouth and they have played some of the best attacking football I've seen outside of Arsenal and Chelsea.

Sadly, they leak goals like a sieve and that does not make for a successful team.

Newcastle supporters appear to want 6-5 victories but in the real world you find they don't happen very often.

People don't want success yesterday any more - they want it the day before yesterday
Alan Hansen

Kenny Dalglish set about ensuring Newcastle had a defensive base when he was manager and he got slaughtered for it.

The fans didn't like it - but Newcastle supporters need only look at Everton to see how important defence is.

Everton are not in the same stratosphere as Newcastle when it comes to attacking options but they are brilliantly organised and don't concede goals - hence the points difference.

Souness will say the criticism doesn't affect him but it must.

He has only just arrived at Newcastle and needs time - it is up to everyone to give it to him.

Bryan Robson is in a tough situation at The Hawthorns.

It was always going to be difficult there this season. It would have been difficult for Gary Megson, so it is going to be even more difficult for a new manager coming in.

There are three steps in the football process - hope, anticipation and expectation.

West Brom are still at the hope step - and right at the bottom of the step at that.

There is a lot of goodwill for Bryan in the game. Everyone is rooting for him because he is a great lad with a lot of knowledge.

And it should also be stressed that history has treated him very harshly over his time at Middlesbrough.

He helped that club become what they are now. The chairman Steve Gibson will tell you that - players came to that club to play for Bryan Robson.

Robson was not a failure at Middlesbrough and he has every right to feel aggrieved at being portrayed as such by some.

He wasn't the first young manager to see things go wrong after enjoying success.

But I have to say he has got a real uphill task to keep Albion up.

It may well be they need to go down and regroup but they have already done that once and who's to say they will come right back.

I saw them playing against Birmingham and if you think Souness has got defensive problems they are nothing compared to West Brom's.

If they do not improve in that area they won't survive.

There are tough times for Souness and Robson - but they are tough characters who will not shirk from criticism or the battles ahead.





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