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Conte faces difficult balancing act

Chelsea
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By ESPN Staff

Souness reassured over his position

Newcastle boss Graeme Souness insists he retains the full backing of his chairman Freddy Shepherd despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Souness survived a 10-minute crisis meeting with Shepherd yesterday at which he was expected to be told two wins in 10 games had made his position untenable.

But Souness told The Times: 'I popped into the stadium for a cup of coffee and a brief chat with the chairman.

'It was all very amicable. We spoke about the match on Saturday and he told me he was supportive of me and behind me. It was all very positive and upbeat. I'm absolutely fine.'

Souness' comments contradict recent developments at St James' Park in which he appeared to have become increasingly isolated from the club's board.

Shepherd has repeatedly disagreed with Souness' highlighting of the club's injury list insisting it should not be used as an excuse for their continued poor form.

And with the manager resolutely refusing to resign, there is widespread belief Shepherd is only holding back due to the estimated £5million payout he would be forced to make to Souness and his coaching staff in the event of a sacking.

However Souness' position would surely become impossible if his side stumbled in their tricky FA Cup fourth-round trip to Cheltenham next Saturday.