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Coleman and Souness talk about the game

last updated Friday 13th January 2006, 3:46 PM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman

Fulham Manager Chris Coleman has piled more pressure on under-fire Newcastle boss Graeme Souness by claiming this weekend's match is all about the Tyneside club.

Souness spent big in the transfer market last summer with the arrivals of Michael Owen, Scott Parker, Emre and Albert Luque.

But poor league form and an early exit from the League Cup has put the former Liverpool midfielder's position in the spotlight, and Coleman insists media attention will centre on the big Scot.

"If we beat Newcastle it will all be about what happens next for them and without doubt there will be more pressure on Newcastle than on us," Coleman said.

"Newcastle is a massive club, 50,000 fans every home game and they've spent £50million.

"They have lost a lot of good players through injury. Graeme has been under a lot of speculation and is facing a little bit of pressure."

Victory at Craven Cottage would see the Cottagers leapfrog Newcastle in the table and record back-to-back Premiership victories for the first time in 21 matches.

And, following Saturday's disappointing FA Cup exit at the hands of League Two Leyton Orient, Coleman insists his side are itching to set the record straight.

He added: "This is massive for us, simple as that - we've got to beat Newcastle.

"We need to beat Newcastle and that's not piling any extra pressure on my players, they look at the table and they know that.

"We are three points away from the top 10 and six points away from the bottom three.

"A big win on Saturday would see us on the same points as Newcastle and maybe go above Charlton and Aston Villa.

"To be fair to Graeme his squad is crippled with injury. But we haven't got a full squad either and some of my lads who will play won't be fully fit. But because we haven't got a big squad we haven't got a choice.

"Of course we'd rather play a Newcastle side without Owen and Parker but they'll still come and be a threat.

"They will be happy that a few of the lads out there won't be 100%. Steed Malbranque, for example could be back but he won't last 90 minutes."

Fulham will, however, be strengthened by the additions of former Southampton goalkeeper Antti Niemi and New Zealand international midfielder Simon Elliott.

And Coleman was quick to point out his January shopping was far from over. "We are strongly in for a couple more players," he added.

"Whether it happens I don't know. I can't promise but what I can promise fans is the chairman and the board of directors have made money available for us to invest and I'm excited about that."

Newcastle boss Graeme Souness

Newcastle boss Graeme Souness heads for Fulham on Saturday insisting he would be foolish to predict where his side might finish at the end of a turbulent Barclays Premiership season.

Souness' hopes for the campaign have been ripped apart by a crippling injury list which will again rob him of key players this weekend.

The Magpies limped through last Saturday's FA Cup third-round clash with League Two strugglers Mansfield courtesy of skipper Alan Shearer's record-equalling 200th goal for the club, a strike which spared his manager further criticism.

Newcastle resume their league campaign at Craven Cottage lying 11th in the table and eight points adrift of the top-six finish chairman Freddy Shepherd set as the minimum requirement after handing his manager £50million to strengthen his squad.

However, Souness is not prepared to make predictions.

"Our ambition is to try to win every game we are involved in and see where that takes you at the end of the season," he said.

"I'm like most people in football - you would be an absolute fool to say in the first week in the season 'Our aim is to finish so-and-so in the league'.

"Obviously, you will have that in your own head, but I don't think you talk about it. Our attitude, or my attitude, is to try to win every game we are involved in and see where we find ourselves at the end of the season."

Newcastle have taken just one point from the last nine on offer - the home draw with derby rivals Middlesbrough on January 2 - after successive victories over Arsenal and West Ham appeared to have marked the start of a significant push.

However, major injuries to £17million striker Michael Owen and £6.5million midfielder Scott Parker, which required surgery last week, have dealt the manager further blows.

Owen made his debut for the club when Fulham travelled to St James' Park on September 10, and they looked like leaving with all three points until a late strike from substitute Charles N'Zogbia snatched a draw.

In an ideal world, former England captain Shearer would have had his feet up last weekend, but is having to summon up every last drop of energy for his club's cause.

"When I spoke to Alan last year about staying on for another year, I told him he wouldn't be starting in every game, but so far this season, he's near enough started in every game," admitted Souness.

"It's not worked out the way we wanted it to work out. He's having to play in every game because we have no-one else, basically."

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