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Encouraged by early signs.

Byline: By Alan Oliver

At least Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe had the good grace to shake Graeme Souness by the hand after last Sunday's game at the St Mary's Stadium.

Considering the mess the Saints are in down on the south coast dare I suggest that Rupert must have been wishing he hadn't fallen out with the Scot after Souness had only been in charge of Southampton for 48 matches.

For make no mistake about it United's first League victory at Southampton was very much down to one man. And that man was Souness.

I said in my match report in Chronicle Sport on Monday that in my opinion United would not have won this game had Sir Bobby Robson still been in charge.

And after having a week to mull over it I am convinced there would have been no celebrating for the Toon Army last Sunday had Souness not been there.

I am not saying it was vintage stuff because it wasn't. But Souness played both Jermaine Jenas and Craig Bellamy out of position and hauled off Patrick Kluivert without a peep out of the Dutch legend.

And he got what he wanted first and most of all. The three points.

It's far too early to say that Graeme Souness is going to be a huge success at St James' Park.

But aren't the early signs encouraging.

DID you notice that unlike several of his predecessors Graeme Souness did not take a bow on his first public appearance against Israeli League side Hapoel Bnei Sakhnin the other Thursday night.

Instead Newcastle United's new manager made a quiet entrance and sat alongside chairman Freddy Shepherd just as the two teams were kicking off .

Mind you he was soon down where he likes to be. Patrolling his technical area liked a caged lion.

The Scot has only been here a couple of weeks but the more I see of him the more I like him.

Especially as there will no talk of all our yesterdays.

With 26 trophies as a player and manager Souness has plenty to look back on. But he won't.

He says he does not want his four old son or indeed his new batch of players hearing about what he may or may not have achieved in the game.

Yes as I've already said the man is growing on me.

WHY IT MAKES SENSE TO KEEP IN WITH SOUEY

My phone just about rang off the wall early on Thursday morning.

That when pictures appeared in a tabloid newspaper of Patrick Kluivert emerging from a London nightspot at two o'clock on Wednesday morning.

And it seemed like the whole world wanted to know whether Souey was going to blow his top and throw the book at Kluivert.

When I spoke to Souness just before nine o'clock he was literally walking into the training ground and had not seen the article.

But within a couple of minutes he was back on the phone and quite relaxed about the whole situation.

And his comment that he would be speaking to Kluivert about his choice of shirt was soon winging its way round the world.

Obviously a lot was said and written about just how Souness would handle United's notorious brat pack.

Yet really I think Souness's approach to it all can be summed up in two words.

But don't worry lads. Those two words are common sense.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 25, 2004
Words:569
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