Date: 18th December 2005 at 2:23pm
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Jean Alain Boumsong arrived at St James’ Park last season in an £8 million switch from Rangers with a huge reputation, but sadly he had a nightmare start to his Toon career. Mistake after mistake brought pressure on the manager to drop him, but the Jock stood firm, saying his player was having problems at home and Toon fans should give him the benefit of the doubt.

We weren’t the only website to reply to Graeme Souness, saying if the player was not up to the job – for whatever reason – he should not be in the team. It would take the pressure of the player AND the team.

However, Souness says he will continue to play the player regardless of problems off the field. Serious illnesses to his wife and son have forced Boumsong to commute between Newcastle and his ailing family in France and Souness believes the trauma has inevitably had a detrimental impact on his performances in a black and white shirt.

Souness: ‘Jean-Alain has had problems off the pitch. His little lad off the pitch has had several operations and his wife has been seriously ill. Jean-Alain has had a great deal to put up with. People don’t realise how much it affects him but he has got on with his game.

‘I work with him every day and I can see his character. He is the first one to hold up his hand if he makes a mistake. He is still new and getting used to English football. He has been in our football nearly a year and I’m very happy with him.’