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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Souness vows 'I'll never quit'

Beleaguered Newcastle boss Graeme Souness has re-iterated his intention to cling onto his job as the pressure mounts.

Robbed of another key man yesterday when it was revealed that £6.5million midfielder Scott Parker could be out for five weeks with a knee injury, the Scot insisted he will not walk away from the job he took on 16 months ago.

Souness has come under increasing fire of late due to his side's disappointing results.

'Let me make something perfectly clear - there's no chance of me resigning, no matter what happens,' Souness told the Times. 'I'll say that again, no matter what happens.

'I don't think I've done anything wrong. I know that I've brought some very good players to this football club and I know that we've been desperately unlucky in terms of injuries, but I'm sticking at it.

'We've had two operations in the space of a week first Michael (Owen) and then Scott and if you look at the players we've got available at the moment, that tells you exactly where we are.

'We've only got two centre-halves and, in Titus Bramble, one of them is having injections in his groin before he plays. We're even struggling to get a midfield together for the Mansfield game.

'We're in desperate trouble, but it's at times like this that you find out most about yourself and the people around you.

'We can't undo what's happened to Michael, to Scott, to Steven Taylor, Kieron Dyer or the others, but we can help each other and the best way to do that is by sticking together.

'This is a great club and supporters should know that I'm up for the challenge. I've never ducked a fight in my life.'

Souness' defiant stance is both characteristic and commendable, but the appetite for his reign, which has rarely been voracious, is dwindling alarmingly.

His comments came after talks with chairman Freddy Shepherd, who handed him the remainder of the £50million he has spent since his arrival at St James' Park during the summer and then demanded a top-six finish.

That remains a mathematical possibility, but it will take a major change of fortune and an impressive run of results if it is to become a reality.

The Magpies will head into Saturday's FA Cup third round clash against League Two strugglers Mansfield with Owen, Parker, Dyer, Emre, Taylor, Stephen Carr and Craig Moore on the injury list, Lee Bowyer suspended and Amady Faye on international duty with Senegal.

Such is the dearth of fit players available to the manager for a game his side should win with ease - but could find tricky - that youngsters Martin Brittain and Matty Pattison may find themselves pressed into service.

Souness has been desperately unlucky with injuries - Owen, Parker and Emre represent £27.5million of the cash he invested during the summer - while Carr, Dyer and Taylor would also be in his strongest 11.

Their absences have exposed the lack of depth in the squad with Lee Clark, who scored Monday's late equaliser against Middlesbrough, is now set to play a major role after returning to Tyneside initially in a coaching capacity.