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Fulham put Newcastle in a spin

last updated Monday 12th September 2005, 2:06 PM

Graeme Souness responded to Newcastle United's dismal display against Fulham on Saturday by ordering his first-team squad in for training yesterday according to Alan Oliver for The Evening Chronicle.

The United boss cancelled a planned day off as the management, coaching staff and the players tried to thrash out what went wrong against a Fulham side who could easily have won for the second time in successive seasons at St James' Park.

Freddy Shepherd was making no comment today but he did not have to as his face told the whole story as he left the directors box on Saturday.

Shepherd was clearly furious and he had every right to be after spending £50m in the past 10 months and seeing United turn in what at times was a shambolic show.

Certainly, when Souness made his usual after-match visit to the directors room he will not have been well received.

The manager accepts the buck stops with him and he had every right to fear the worst as he went into Saturday's game without key midfielders Kieron Dyer, Emre and even Nobby Solano.

United have rushed players back too early before - Titus Bramble last season and Dyer and Emre this time round - but it has backfired on them every time.

They are still going to be short in midfield when they go to Blackburn Rovers on Sunday with Luque likely to be out for six weeks with his hamstring injury.

And United should be without Scott Parker after the midfielder's red card on Saturday - one of the few decisions referee Alan Wiley and his team got right.

Souness says United are hoping to have the red card rescinded in the same way that Jermaine Jenas had his downgraded after the Arsenal opener on the basis that Fulham's Claus Jensen says he was not touched by Parker but that he slipped.

Parker and Jensen, of course, were playing colleagues at Charlton Athletic for three and a half seasons and it looks a bit like a case of the old pals act here.

Who are most definitely not pals are Souness, several United players and their former striker Craig Bellamy.

Blackburn boss Mark Hughes had said that Bellamy could be on the bench for yesterday's Lancashire derby with Bolton Wanderers after an ankle injury, but the Welsh international nowhere in sight.

Now it remains to be seen whether Hughes will include his volatile striker on Sunday against a United, who have never won in the Premiership at Ewood Park.

Before then, United's misery will be compounded this week when several Premiership teams will be involved in Europe while judging by their performance on Saturday they are many a mile away from having another crack at a European competition.

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