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Press article:

I feel so sad to see him go, says Solano - 03/02/2006

I feel so sad to see him go, says Solano
   Sir Bobby Robson
   Graeme Souness
   Glenn Roeder
   Newcastle United

Nolberto Solano last night described his deep regret at the sacking of Graeme Souness after claiming the Scot had allowed him to re-kindle his Newcastle United love affair.

Solano has admitted that most of the players feared the worst following the dismal performance at Manchester City on Wednesday night, but the popular Peruvian was still shocked when news of Souness' sacking reached the training ground.

Souness fought long and hard to bring Solano back to the North-East in the summer after a row with former Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson had led to an 18-month spell at Aston Villa.

And the 31-year-old remains one of the Scot's staunchest supporters, despite the growing wave of discontent on Tyneside which has forced chairman Freddie Shepherd to dispense with his services.

He said: "It's a terrible situation that we're in and it's disappointing for everyone involved with the club. After the Manchester City game we didn't feel good in the dressing room and we knew we had let the manager down. We didn't want to put him, the club or our fans in that position. There are no excuses but I don't think anyone can deny that the manager has had bad luck with injuries - especially to the big players he has signed.

"I feel very, very sad for the manager. He brought me back to the club I love and I will always owe him that. He's a good man and doesn't deserve the bad luck he has had.

"I think he knew something would happen after the Manchester City game. But we turned up to training this morning and heard a rumour he had come to say goodbye.

"He knew his time was up and I think he felt some of the recent criticism had gone too far. But he knows football and he knows it's part of the game. That's football. Those of us still here have to stand up and be counted."

Nevertheless, while Solano has suggested the majority of players will be sorry to see Souness leave, he has vowed to do everything he can to help caretaker boss Glenn Roeder guide the club back up the table.

He added: "In training we have talked about the need to respond in the right way and help the caretaker manager as much as we can. This season isn't over by a long way. Our next few games are winnable and I expect us to win against Portsmouth. We have to remain confident in our own ability."

Meanwhile, former Newcastle defender and chairman of the Professional Footballer's Association Warren Barton has urged Shepherd to take his time as he looks for Souness' replacement as Roeder, with help from Alan Shearer, is more than capable of guiding the club out of relegation trouble.

He said: "I think you look around and people say you need experience but look at Stuart Pearce (at Manchester City). We've got good coaches in this country who've gone through the right channels with the qualifications who have to be given the opportunity.

"For Martin O'Neill it's an ideal opportunity for him to come in. There's a lot of good coaches around at the moment.

"They have got time there. There's not a great rush.

"You have got guys there who can steady the ship. There's enough quality in that squad to push them up the league rapidly.

"It's a massive club. It needs to get its pride back in place.

"Everything's set up for it to be a top club - they just need to start performing on the pitch."

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