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Success awaits Souness ( Bobby.

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Sir Bobby Robson is backing Newcastle's under-pressure players to bounce back from this season's disappointing start and bring success to new manager Graeme Souness.

The former United boss visited the Magpies' Darsley Park training ground yesterday to say his final farewells to a first-team squad still coming to terms with the past fortnight's unsettling events.

But Robson refused to dwell on an uncomfortable exit as he delivered a rousing speech aimed at rallying John Carver's troops ahead of this afternoon's clash against Blackburn.

"We've spoken to Bobby and he's wished us all the best," revealed Jermaine Jenas, one of several players absent on international duty when chairman Freddie Shepherd made the decision to dismiss Robson last month. "He had a little chat with us to say goodbye. He said he wanted us to go out there against Blackburn and win.

"It was very emotional for people. It's never nice to see people get the sack or leave the club. He came said his piece and wished us all the best.

"He wanted to make a speech. He was wishing us all the best, not just in our careers but in our life. That is the kind of person he is. He did not say where he would be this weekend but I know his thoughts will be with us. It will take time to not call him gaffer."

Jenas was handed his Premiership debut by Robson in 2002 and won the Professional Footballers Association's Young Player of the Year award following an outstanding first full season in a black-and-white shirt.

Sharing the same birthday as Robson, the England international enjoyed a special relationship with Souness' predecessor and he added: "Sir Bobby's man-management skills were excellent. He knew how to treat everyone. He had a good relationship with all the other players. There was a lot of mutual respect. It was a huge disappointment to see him go. I would like to thank him for bringing me here but now I have to impress the new manager."

Souness will meet his new players for the first time on Monday but the former Blackburn boss will watch Newcastle's performance against Rovers with interest. Jenas revealed he was informed of the Scot's unexpected appointment via text message from his mother and admitted: "I'm intrigued to meet the new manager.

"Graeme Souness coming in is a new start for everyone. I have spoken to people about him and heard only good reports.

"I've heard all the talk about how he's coming in to bang players' heads together but I don't expect that to happen. He's an ex-player and I'm sure he will go about it the right way. He will deal with each player correctly.

"The point about discipline has been exaggerated. The new manager is a nice man who, if you work hard for him, will be fine. As with any manager, once you cross him you will get problems. Hopefully I won't cross him.

"It's just a case of fine tuning a very good squad. You look at the names and most managers would love to work with those players."
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2004
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