Dodgy keepers? Can't live with them. At least not when you're trying to win the title.

Which is why Shaka Hislop will be walking around with a complex the size of King Kenny's trophy cabinet today - despite his gaffer's new, improved user-friendly image.

Dalglish was all smiles again at Southampton, even as he walked back down the touchline after seeing his side throw away a two-goal lead which they had held until the 88th minute.

You would have expected him to go Tonto and inside I'm sure he was.

But he refused to condemn his keeper, who had blundered dramatically with just two minutes left when he dropped a harmless cross to let Neil Maddison stab home what LOOKED like a late consolation.

Mind you, you couldn't have blamed Hislop when he was beaten again in the 92nd minute by Matt Le Tissier screamer.

He wouldn't have stopped that one even if Peter Schmeichel and Andy Goram had been by his side.

But that's not the point. The point is that Hislop is always likely to throw one in every time he pulls on his No.15 shirt.

That means Dalglish has to put out a side which has to score at least twice to be in with a shout of winning.

And so - despite Kenny's refusal to slate the guy in public - Hislop has every right to fear for his future with the Toon.

Yet up until Newcastle's late collapse he had been as close to outstanding as he's ever likely to get in what was a big, big game.

Big names like Dalglish, Souness, Shearer and Le Tiss, big men like the huge Ulrich Van Gobbel and Ken Monkou and big moustaches from Souey and Terry McDermott.

Dalglish walked out to a standing ovation - even from the Saints fans - and although it's early days he looked to have made his mark on Kevin Keegan's team right from the start.

Gone was the cavalier approach - or, as McDermott called it after blowing last week's two goal lead at Villa, "the you score, we score style".

Nope, Kenny had bolted the back door. Or so it seemed. At one point - after Les Ferdinand had scrambled home a 13th minute opener - the big striker broke clear into the Saints half.

A week ago that would have sounded the trumpets and Peter Beardsley would have led the cavalry charge over the halfway line in support.

But my chin almost dropped onto my lap when I saw Ferdinand look up and not see another blue shirt in sight.

So did his, I dare say.

He was only a couple of yards away from Southampton's byeline yet had to start working his way BACKWARDS.

Incredibly, the ball ended up at Hislop's feet. I hope Kev wasn't watching.

It happened time and time again in the second half; when Newcastle broke their back four stayed put halfway with David Batty just a couple of yards in front.

Everybody had a job to do. Nobody was asked to do any more.

And it seemed to be working perfectly because on 83 minutes it looked game, set and match when Beardsley set up Lee Clark for 2-0.

Before that strike Hislop had been doing most of the work with some outstanding stops. Even when Le Tiss beat him in 66 minutes with a beautifully lobbed free kick, the ball came back off the bar.

Fair play to Souness. It wasn't his day and he knew it. This was all about Dalglish and how he would cultivate his title-chasers.

But it was the Dell boss's trademarks of grit, determination and never- say-die spirit which saved the game.

He smiled: "I asked them for more in the second half. I asked them to be more aggressive and give me an extra yard and that's exactly what we got.

"But after Hislop's saves I just didn't think we were going to get anything and when the second goal went in it really was all over.

"So it's ironic that their keeper then spilled one and let us back in and I suppose when you're in the last minute and the ball drops to someone on the edge of the box, you couldn't pick a better guy than Matty.

"I know you guys will go home now and point the finger at the keeper because Kenny's making changes to Newcastle but I think that's a little bit unfair. He had kept them in the game.

"But Kenny seemed to enjoy it anyway. I said to him at the end it had been pretty exciting. I think he agreed. I think he must have had some of my blood pressure pills before kick-off."

Dalglish reckoned Hislop might have been impeded at Maddison's goal.

He said: "I won't criticise the keeper. He had so many tremendous saves and the goal we're talking about was either a mistake by him or by the ref.

"But you can't legislate for goals like Le Tissier's.

"He won the goal of the season award for scoring against me when I was at Blackburn. Looks like he's done it again."

And off he popped, all smiles and charms.

But Hislop surely won't be fooled - this morning he'll be looking at the face of the smiling assassin.