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Name Graeme Souness
Gender Male
Nationality UK
Ethnic Scottish
Job Scottish Football Coach
  Newcastle United Manager
Desc Rewind three decades and Graeme Souness’ move to Sampdoria saw the club rise to a greater status in Italy. The Scot marshalled the midfield and dominated each game in his two years at Samp in the mid-80s. Unlike many of the Brits abroad, Souness lifted the Coppa Italia in his first season at the club with a win over AC Milan after he’d scored in the first-leg

Affiliation

Org Scotland National Team
Club as Coach Newcastle United
  Liverpool FC
Club as Player Liverpool FC

2016 03 24 Retrieve

[on Alan Shearer] In my opinion, Alan Shearer is the greatest English centre-forward there has ever been without a shadow of a doubt; he’s a very, very special player. He makes average balls into great balls. He’s the scorer of every type of goal going. He plays the centre forward role in the hardest possible fashion where he generally has his back against where he wants to be going against men who are generally a lot bigger than him. He is not the biggest guy and people would be surprised if they met him in the street at the size of him

2019 01 10 Retrieve

[Souness remembered Sampdoria as a welcoming club] We had a great President in Paolo Mantovani and he treated everyone like his own son. It’s a lovely club in beautiful city. I was lucky enough to be there and I can honestly say it was one of the best times in my career

2019 08 11 Retrieve

[Former Liverpool boss Graeme Souness has renewed hostilities with Manchester United’s Paul Pogba ahead of Sunday’s season-opener] If I’m sitting in United’s dressing room, I’m glad Lukaku has gone and don’t want Pogba in there with me either if he’s not up for the fight ahead and is also keen to get away. They’re as responsible as anybody for the predicament United are in, yet have effectively said to their team-mates: ‘It’s everybody else’s fault’. No, let’s get it right, lads, you’re part of the reason United are not in the Champions League this year. Madrid are looking to nick Pogba on the cheap because they’re suspicious of his form, while Inter haggled over the asking price for Lukaku because he didn’t pull up any trees at United either

[United forward Marcus Rashford, who could play a pivotal role up front following Lukaku’s move to Italy, also found himself being questioned by the former Rangers and Newcastle boss] I’m not convinced he’s ready for it yet. It’s not ideal and it would not have happened under (former manager) Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson].

2019 08 11b Retrieve

[Graeme Souness writes off Manchester United or Chelsea as contenders before their first ball of the season was kicked] I think City and Liverpool are a good bit ahead of everyone else, including Tottenham. They could put a good run together and have a really strong group of players again. I don’t think anyone will come close to the top two. I see them battling it out again

2019 08 11c Retrieve

[Graeme Souness names Newcastle United as his most difficult job as he criticises local coverage] It’s a very, very difficult job. Newcastle has been a difficult club to manage for a long, long time. Rafa Benitez managed to calm the waters when he was there but for every other manager in recent history it’s been a difficult job

There is a frustration at Newcastle because they feel they should be so much better. Fifty-thousand people every week, they are a big football club. I had eight jobs and that was the most difficult one I ever had. Matt Ritchie touched on it with an interview this week, saying everyone has to row in the same direction. The job is hard enough when everyone is pulling in the same direction

I got the job, the local press man was an absolute fool, I can’t remember his name. He was proud to say he got the last four managers sacked. That’s a local newspaper, they should be promoting the football club not damaging it at every opportunity. There’s factors up there who are constantly looking to get a cheap headline, make life difficult for the football club and make life difficult for the players, You have to be a big personality to perform at Newcastle

2019 09 22 Retrieve

[Souness slams Solskjaer’s side after West Ham collapse] This is the worst group Manchester United have ever had since the Premier League started. I think Man United find themselves in a very, very difficult place. The problems started long before Jose got there. From the minute Fergie left. I’m not just blaming the managers. I think the people making football decisions have got to hold their hands up and say we’ve made some pretty awful decisions along the way

[Souness pointed to West Ham’s first goal as an example of United’s lack of energy, accusing Solskjaer’s men of being passive] What happens is the defenders and midfielders here think they’ve done their job because they are back goalside. Noble’s received the ball, now go and close him, put him under pressure, make him rush his pass. He’s got time to get his head up and a defender in that situation on the edge of the box is doing his job if he’s walking out and confronting the ball, it’s not enough to just be goalside. Yarmolenko’s shot can only go one way, it can only go to the goalkeeper’s right. I know he’s stretched but the goalkeeper has got to read the body language and where the shot is going to go. United today were passive. There was no energy, no snap in midfield, Rashford is living on scraps, it’s a worrying time for them

2019 09 28 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness’s Galatasaray flag incident: Manager’s infamous insult to Fenerbahce fans] It was extremely hostile, to say the least, because the supporters - dress it up whatever way you want - don’t like each other very much. One of the vice-presidents of Fenerbahce had said, ‘what are Galatasaray doing signing a cripple as a coach?’. He was referring to surgery I had a couple of years before, which was an open-heart surgery, and I thought that was a pretty unkind thing to say. So, nine months later we won the cup in their stadium. A great big Galatasaray flag was handed over the barbed wire fence and the players all took a turn in waving it, then it was handed to me

I waved it, then turned round to hand it to someone, but by that time all the players had run up to the half-way line to get the cup. So I jog up to the half-way line with this great big flag, looking into the emptying stands and in the directors’ box I can see the chap who, nine months previous, had said some pretty unkind things. In a moment of madness, I thought, ‘I’ll show you who’s a cripple’ and I went to the centre circle, tried to get [the flag] into the centre circle. It wouldn’t go in - the ground was so hard - but I managed to get it in at the second or third attempt

[Of course, the act of provocation had the desired effect, with Fenerbahce supporters, already reeling from their side’s loss to their rivals, left seething with rage. Indeed, Souness was quickly made to regret his actions as he became entangled with an opposition fan on his way to the dressing room] I lifted my head and realised it wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done. A lot of Fenerbahce supporters were now trying to climb the fence and get onto the pitch. I managed to get under the police shield and there was lots of stuff bouncing off it, but I got into the tunnel and thought I’d gotten away with it. But just as I got into the tunnel I got a thump on the side of the head. A supporter had gotten into the tunnel. So I had a bit of a tussle with him and eventually got back to the safety of the dressing rooms

Once I got into the dressing room I thought, ‘once the directors come down, that’s it. I’m going to be sacked on the spot and on the first plane out of here tomorrow’. But it was the exact opposite. Some of them had tears in their eyes and I’ve never been hugged and kissed by so many men in such a short period of time. They were absolutely delighted, obviously, that we’d won the cup, but they seemed even more delighted that I’d planted the flag in the Fenerbahce stadium. And I get it. Turkish society is quite a macho society and I think they could relate to that. I think the Turkish people and the Scottish people are not quite so different. I think we’re quite similar! Slightly mad, emotional and capable of crazy things

[Graeme Souness Galatasaray flag incident: The aftermath] I’m not quite sure I’m at that level. But I’m extremely proud and pleased that people remember me for doing that

2019 10 20 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness describes Salah’s absence as an enormous blow but thinks his former side still have enough quality to beat Manchester United - their great rivals] He’s one of their main men. Origi is a drop in quality but has got some big goals for them. You want your best players for the big games. This is not an easy game for them but I can’t see beyond their quality. They’re not a milky team and what I mean by that is wherever they go they turn up in some form. They work hard in midfield, they’re rock-solid at the back, they have the best centre-back in world football and I just see a Liverpool win. I’ve never been so confident about a Liverpool team going to Old Trafford and having a good day. I might be wrong, these games are usually tight.

2019 10 20b Retrieve

[Graeme Souness was more forthright in his views and felt the officials made the wrong decision in allowing Rashford’s opener in Liverpool against Manchester United match] I think Lindelof does catch him. He catches the inside of his left leg and anyway you look at that, it’s a foul. Matip has to do better with his movement, he has an eye on it at one point but he loses him. There’s definitely contact with Origi and it’s a foul, he’s gone through the back of someone, regardless of his touch

2019 10 20c Retrieve

[Former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness felt there was a lack of ‘cuteness’ from the visitors’ midfield trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum] Liverpool have a midfield that will outwork anyone, but they got outworked in the first half which is very unusual. When they get to the last third, they haven’t really got any cuteness in the midfield but what they do have is workaholics, with Fabinho, Henderson and Wijnaldum. That’s why they huffed and puffed for large periods today as United sat so deep. It’s very harsh to be too critical on the Liverpool midfield

2019 10 20d Retrieve

[Graeme Souness urges Manchester United to buy Harry Kane from Tottenham] That’s where Man Utd should be batting. Go for the best. They always have done

2019 10 27 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness identifies Dele Alli as a key part of Tottenham’s fall from grace this season] I thought he was going to be a star. I think he’s a classic case of someone who has got himself in his armchair. They gave him a four or five-year contract last year and look what it’s done to him

2019 11 17 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness praises Virgil van Dijk] He’s the best, for me. He’s faultless. He always seems to be in control in his arm chair. He borders on being faultless. He’s always got a brain that senses danger. I see him as an all-round centre half. I don’t think he goes to sleep or makes sloppy passes. He’ll beat you in the air

2019 11 18 Retrieve

[Liverpool legend Graeme Souness has warned that the Reds should not expect to enjoy an era of dominance in English football] You can never say they will go into a period of dominance because you have to look at Manchester City – they will be around for a long time. There’s the emergence of Chelsea ‘s youngsters too. Will they get better in the next few years? And Manchester United will be back, guaranteed. It’s just a case of when. So you can’t say Liverpool are going to dominate. But once you’ve won the first one, it does give you a taste to win it again. When I was there I was made to feel, ‘This is what we do – win leagues’. That was the No.1 aim on the first day of the season, the league, not the European Cup. They felt that said more about you as an individual and a team

There’s an excitement around the place and an atmosphere in the ground that wasn’t there when I was there. Maybe I was so absorbed in playing football that I blanked all that out, but when I go there now, it’s spine-tingling

2019 11 20 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness says Tottenham will benefit from an angry and frustrated Jose Mourinho who feels he has a point to prove after his sacking from Manchester United last year] I think it was common sense [for Levy to sack Pochettino] and it was common sense again to go for the guy they have gone for. Mauricio Pochettino had appeared to be a man who didn’t want to be at Spurs, which I find very strange. Jose Mourinho is a perfect fit for them.

Spurs are genuinely a big football club and they need someone who can turn what is perceived to be attacking attractive football into a slightly more pragmatic approach that will put some silverware in the boardroom. He has won trophies wherever he’s been and I would expect him to do the same at Spurs. Deep inside, he is an angry and frustrated man with the way it turned out for him at United, so I think Spurs will reap the benefit of that. Will they win the league this year? No. But they will be far more difficult to play against. He is walking into a job in our league with no surprises, he knows what’s ahead of him, he knows the players he is playing against and will have a real grasp of the players he is working with

2019 11 20b Retrieve

[Jose Mourinho appointed new Tottenham manager] I have crossed swords with Jose many times in my career as a football pundit, recently I have got to work with him and his knowledge is exceptional, he understands our game. He is walking into a job in our game with no surprises, he knows what’s ahead of him, he knows the players he is playing against and will have a real grasp of the players he is working with.

He has won trophies wherever he’s been and I would expect him to do the same at Spurs. They’ve won something like two trophies in 28 years, for a big club, that’s just not good enough. They need someone who can turn what is perceived to be attacking attractive football into a slightly more pragmatic approach that will put some silverware in the boardroom. He is a perfect fit for them

2019 11 24 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness has slammed big heads Manchester United for their complacency in Sunday’s 3-3 draw at newly-promoted Sheffield United] I’m not sure how you can say you deserve to win. I’m not sure what pluses Ole will take from that. For me, I’d be more worried about the first 70 minutes when they didn’t turn up, rather than the last 20 minutes. The vast majority of times when they find themselves 2-0 down they won’t get back in the game. They turned up like a team of big heads today - they just turned up and thought they’d get away with it

[Souness was also critical of Man Utd’s Phil Jones, who endured a miserable return to the starting lineup] He’s had a look but he’s got to get his body over and just protect the ball. He’s just done everything wrong. He’s in the wrong position. Jones isn’t a cute player. He’s not 20 years old. He’s not got the greatest touch. At worst give away a throw in

2019 12 03 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness explains why Liverpool snubbed Eric Cantona transfer] We had played Auxerre at home [in November 1991] and Michel Platini came to see me. He said he had a player - a problem boy but a proper player. Cantona. I said the last thing I needed was another problem player. I had 30-pluses that I was trying to get out so I didn’t need more hassle. I said I was looking for something else. I said no thanks

[Graeme Souness recalls a time when former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel asked to come on trial] Schmeichel wrote to me when I was at Liverpool in the early 1990s. Ron Yeats came into my office and told me there was a young Danish goalkeeper who was a Liverpool fan and was willing to pay his own travel and hotel in exchange for some time with us. But at the time I was trying to ease Brucey Grobbelaar out and that was proving a hassle. And I think I had just signed David James. So I thought I could do without it

2019 12 08 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness believes Leicester City’s midfield trio is among the best in the Premier League] I would suggest that Tielemans, Ndidi and Maddison, those three in midfield are as good as any three out there. The blend of them, the hard work, clever passing from Ndidi and Tielemans, and Maddison - he is a real craftsman. I’ve said many times he should be a regular in the England team. I think he has the quality to deliver cute and clever passes, he puts a shift in. You’ve got the guy up front [Vardy] who just wants to run forward all the time. I would suggest in this team, more than the team that won the league, when he runs forward, he knows he has a better chance of getting on the end of something because there are better kickers of the ball playing with him now

Extremely impressive. When you look through their team they have a lovely mix of different types of players. Every one of them has their own qualities. I say that because for the first 20 minutes in the first half they had to dig in and go to war, Villa were up for it and they had to weather that storm

2019 12 10 Retrieve

[Souness doubts Sacked Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti would accept Arsenal role] Would the big [managers] take Arsenal at the moment? I’m not so sure. I don’t think the next man at Arsenal is going to be the one to turn the corner for them. I think there’s a lot of work to be done there, especially with those players. I think [Ancelotti] is a big manager and if you look at the jobs he’s had - Real Madrid, PSG, Chelsea - you know Arsenal are a fabulous club, but right now it’s a difficult job, whoever gets it

2019 12 10b Retrieve

[The former Liverpool midfielder claims he would have loved to have lined up against the Blues duo Chelsea midfielders Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho] I think the midfield is lacking. I like Kante, we speak about him every time we see him about how good he is. But I think Kovacic and Jorginho border on five-a-side players.

If I’m a midfielder and I’m in the tunnel with Kovacic and Jorginho as my opponents, I’m licking my lips. I’d want to play against them. I wouldn’t want to play against Kante. I’d want to play against them

2019 12 21 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness believes Mikel Arteta is a big risk for Arsenal] Great risk. Coaching, being a very good coach, does not automatically qualify you to be a very good manager. They are two different jobs

I would suggest that Arsenal is a very different football club from the one I had when I was there. I would surely have been in the training camp with Pep all the time, so I would have learned from him there, but it’s just that the other everyday things with those that a manager has to deal with, of which he will not have a great experience

Whoever got the job at Arsenal would have had a very, very difficult job. Having chosen a manager who had never been a manager before is a very high risk. It will not be a quick fix at Arsenal, they are in trouble right now and they are not even close to where they should be. They are one of England’s great football clubs, but I would suggest they are quite bit that now

2019 12 29 Retrieve

[Souness calls for rule change after Liverpool VAR controversy] I just don’t get it. We’re in the entertainment business. What we’re doing is denying the people the enjoyment of goals. What we should do is say that if any part of an attacker is in an onside position they can’t be given offside. We cannot go on like this. There’s too much frustration going on.

2019 12 30 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness says Liverpool became a proper team after selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona] Maybe, for the neutral, they were a better watch a couple of years ago. But when they got rid of Coutinho and brought in Van Dijk and Alisson, that’s when they made that jump. All of a sudden they’re a proper team

There is a long way to go for all of us. Everybody asks me what it was like in 2019. My 2019 team was brilliant but that’s not important, we count seasons, not years. The 2019-20 season is not over. We are halfway there. There are 19 games to play. That’s a lot. And probably 19 of them will be like this tonight, for different reasons. We will be facing teams who will be fighting for the league with all they have, and the fight for the Champions League and Europa League has opened up again. We have to be ready. Who cares about points in December? We have just created a basis we can work with from now on. It’s not about belief. If we weren’t confident it would be really crazy. It’s not about knowing or wanting to know it’s already done. It’s just a game with the media. It would be crazy for me to sit here and think it’s done. It is not done. For the last five or six weeks, I am asked that question constantly and as a normal human being it’s the same answer, it’s not done. You can ask me if you want but don’t expect a different answer

2020 01 19 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness confuses by Firmino’s disallowed goal following VAR intervention] He’s never looked at the goalkeeper, he’s got his eyes on the ball. Under no circumstances is that a foul. If you’re talking about VAR as some sort of magnificent computer that’s perfect in every way, it’s human error and they don’t know what they’re doing, that’s the bottom line. It’s laughable. How much more honest could he be in his challenge?

2020 02 02 Retrieve

[Sky pundit Graeme Souness has spoken in defence of City boss Pep Guardiola after Tottenham beat Manchester City] They’ve played well today. There’s not a lot wrong with them. He’ll be angry at Zinchenko’s first booking, Mahrez’s poor corner kick that led to the goal and the sending off

Otamendi for the second goal, just stay where you are. People do make mistakes, but they do make them and they don’t mean to

2020 02 02b Retrieve

[Graeme Souness says that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola will regret not signing Virgil van Dijk when he had the chance] If Guardiola could turn back the clock two years, to the January transfer window of 2018, he would pay a premium to sign Virgil van Dijk, topping the £75 million that Liverpool paid Southampton for him. I said at the time it was a no-brainer

It’s not the last piece of the jigsaw because Guardiola would never be happy with his lot, but there was never a question of how Van Dijk would handle the Premier League because he had already shown he could after moving south from Celtic. For City, with their owners, there will always be a premium to be paid for a player, it’s how big that premium is. There are deals they just have to take on the chin, and Van Dijk was one of them

From the outside, it seems Guardiola is never sure of his best central pairing in defence. When he spent £60m on signing Joao Cancelo, a right-back, from Juventus last summer, I would have thought a centre- back was the priority. He did not have a settled partnership even with Vincent Kompany there and Aymeric Laporte fit because he could not rely on Kompany being there all the time.

Guardiola loses Kompany, then the season starts and he also loses Laporte to injury. He knows there’s a player in John Stones, but he is not 100 per cent sold on him. Nicolas Otamendi does a good job when he comes in, but we all know his shortcomings. Then there’s a chain reaction. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul by taking Fernandinho out of midfield and using him at centre-back because he is a lot better than Rodri. That is the crux of City’s problem.

[One other issue that need to be addressed in the summer transfer window in Souness’ view] There is still a year left in Sergio Aguero, but Guardiola will also look to sign a world-class centre forward

2020 02 18 Retrieve

[Souness says Halaand’s footballing ability must have come from his mother] He’s always on the half turn, he’s not squared up looking at his own goal. He’s really pacey. He’s got that sixth sense that all the top strikers have. He’s in the right place at the right time. He looks like he’s quicker than anyone, he’s bigger than anyone. He’s got a great chance of being a top man, hasn’t he? His mother must have been a good player because his dad was a plodder

It’s easier to play at Dortmund than it is at Manchester United right now. He’d be under lots of pressure. But he won’t be there long. I doubt he’ll go to Man Utd, but if he keeps scoring goals, he’s destined for Bayern Munich or Real Madrid

2020 03 01 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness says All we see is Paul Pogba shooting hoops] Maybe Man Utd should be looking at the medical staff here at Goodison. They got Gomes back in a fraction of the time from what would appear to be a far worse injury. I know I’m jumping in here and there will be medics jumping up and down, but it’s the cynic in me. I’m thinking, ‘I see him dancing at a wedding, and I see him shooting hoops and there was something else […] He doesn’t want to be at United, he doesn’t want to play for United. How can you not want to play for Man Utd? If that is the case. Will you give me odds we’ll see him at the Euros?

2020 03 29 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness says Pogba would be a doddle to play against] Pogba has absolutely everything to be a top player - great athleticism, super technique - but his attitude to the game is the polar opposite of mine. He goes out with one thought in his mind: ‘I’m going to show everyone how clever I am today and be the star of the show’. My attitude, the way I was taught, was: ‘Go out and work harder than the guy you’re in against and see where that takes you’. He’d be an absolute doddle to play against

[Plenty of fans do defend Pogba from Souness’ regular criticisms, with some pointing at flaws in the Scotsman’s own game] I had only one red card during my time in England. It was for a tangle with Stan Ternent, who later became a good friend, playing for Middlesbrough against Carlisle United. I’m confident I could have adapted to the modern game

2020 04 04 Retrieve

[Mythbuster: Did Roy Keane end Alf-Inge Haaland’s career?] [Erling’s] mother must have been a good player because his dad was a plodder!

2020 04 05 Retrieve

[According to Graeme Souness, Jurgen Klopp is a great fit for Liverpool and has done a marvellous job at Anfield over the last five years] He is a great fit for Liverpool because he feels the emotion of the place. Liverpool is an extremely emotional football club, with its history, its tragedies. You get that emotion when you go to Anfield and hear You’ll Never Walk Alone. is the polar opposite of what Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan were. Bob didn’t speak a great deal. With Joe, you had to lean in to hear what he was saying. Jurgen is more like Bill Shankly, who was a great communicator, a showman and the leader of the pack. Bob didn’t want to be anywhere near the leader of the pack and neither did Joe. They were happy to be in the background rather than leading from the front. Jurgen is different, but he understands the club and he has done the most marvellous job

Mo Salah might score the most goals but it would be totally wrong to say this side’s attack is just about him. He’s one of three very special players. I love watching Roberto Firmino play. A couple of years ago, I likened him to Kenny Dalglish. He’s like a big cat walking through the jungle waiting for an opportunity to do damage. His radar is on all the time and he’s got a great football brain, whereas Salah and Sadio Mane, they will catch your eye more because they are direct and they score more goals. It’s so important to have those players, those goal-getters who can get you 25 in a season.

2020 04 09 Retrieve

[The Liverpool supporters’ animosity towards Souness has eased somewhat in recent years. The man himself is well aware that he made mistakes, admitting that he will regret the decision forever] I was blinded by my feelings for Liverpool. I expected my players to feel the same as me. But the world was changing. Players were expecting a shoulder to cry on. The players were holding more power than the manager. I wasn’t cute enough sometimes, or political enough

2020 04 14 Retrieve

[Souness is not overly concerned at Pogba claiming to have never heard of him] I’m happy with that. The oldest thing in football comes to mind – put your medals on the table

2020 04 28 Retrieve

[Former Liverpool striker Michael Robinson has died at the age of 61] He was a big pal of mine. So many fond memories of being in his company. If you were going for a night out, Michael would be the first you’d invite. A charming man. Great stories, could tell great stories

I’m really sad for Chris and his kids. He’s been fighting this for a number of years now. It’s been difficult for him. When you look at his career, he was a very good footballer, he enjoyed a year at Liverpool, a glory year, and he was a big part of that

2020 04 29 Retrieve

[Former Southampton manager Graeme Souness has lifted the lid on how Ali Dia, considered by many to be the worst player in Premier League history, ended up playing for his team in 1996] It’s a great story, and it’s a funny story. It’s not quite what you read or hear. Someone got a call at the football club … George Weah’s cousin or nephew was in England and looking to join a club. He wanted a trial. Matt [Le Tissier] will know at that time, we had such a small squad, and we had trialists in all the time. So this guy turns up, and anyone who’s been involved in football, you know in the first five minutes of a game - even if it’s a small five-a-side - if the boy can play or not. So, within the first five minutes on a Monday morning, we said he wasn’t for us. He was hopeless. But we didn’t have enough players to have an eight-a-side. So we kept him for a week, and as the week went on, we had more and more players that got injured. We were playing Leeds United on the Saturday, and Matt was our only fit forward. It’s all Matt’s fault because he only lasts for about 20 minutes! I was looking at the bench thinking, ‘what could we do?’

2020 05 02 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness also speaks of his friendship with Robinson] Michael was a very emotional man and he wouldn’t pick up the phone anymore to me. I was going to ring him last night, but I thought he may have gone to bed early. So I was going to ring him today. But now I don’t have the chance to speak to him

2020 05 11 Retrieve

[Liverpool could have stopped Cantona becoming Manchester United icon but Souness passed on signing] I was manager of Liverpool and we played Auxerre in the Cup Winners’ Cup and we lost 2-0 away, we came back and beat them 3-0. After the game, Terry Littlewood, who used to look after the players’ lounge and my lounge, security-wise, knocked on my door and said there’s a pal outside, he’s a good friend of yours and he wants to speak to you. I said ‘who is it?’ and he said ‘it’s Michel Platini’. Not a close pal of mine, the only time I had come in contact with him was when I played against him when I was in Italy. He came in and said ‘I’ve got a player for you, he’s a real problem in France but he’s really talented and he’d be perfect for your club’. I said ‘look, Michel, I’m fighting fires here at the moment, I’m trying to get some people out of the door that are resisting, I’m fighting a dressing room here. The last thing I need is another controversial figure’. Eric of course then came over on trial with Sheffield Wednesday, then signed for Leeds and the rest is history. When he went to United, it was a young team and young players need someone like that on the pitch to look up to. I think Eric was certainly one of them.

2020 05 24 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness says he hopes to see Wolves winger Adama Traore keep improving as transfer speculation continues to mount] Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez would walk into anybody’s team, they are too good to be sitting on the bench anywhere in the Premier League, but the one that intrigues me is Traore. These players are like a jigsaw, there’s always a part missing, but Traore has improved and let’s hope he keeps improving because he gets you on the edge of your seat when in full flight. He is a motorcycle! It’s almost impossible [to stop him]. Nobody can handle this pace

[After that game, Souness described the former Barcelona winger as unplayable] Traore now, at the moment I would say he is, pretty much, unplayable. I’ve said it now a couple of times and it is still true. He is now not only a winger anymore, he keeps the ball, holds the ball and sets up goals, obviously. That makes it so difficult, each ball you lose is 100 per cent a counter-attack and half a goal

2020 06 14 Retrieve

[Former Scotland midfielder Graeme Souness says John McGinn may be key to Aston Villa’s Premier League survival hopes this season and not necessarily Manchester United transfer target Jack Grealish] There is no doubt they missed John McGinn after he fractured his ankle. A lot of fuss is made of Jack Grealish, but McGinn does a lot of the unseen work, the box-to-box aggression, whereas Grealish attracts more attention because he spends more time running with the ball. If McGinn comes back and plays like he did at the start of the season it could help them survive, but they also may find it difficult to hold on to him when the transfer window opens

From the outside, it is hard to know what Villa were going for last summer and didn’t get. Did they end up signing the second or third choices on their list? That is always dangerous. Sometimes you must hold your nerve and wait until the right players are available rather than signing people for the sake of it. Their defensive record is the worst in the Premier League. In 28 games, they have conceded 56 goals. That means, on average, they need to score three to win. It is a dangerous combination, if you are conceding too many goals and cannot score at the other end and neither Wesley, the big Brazilian, nor Mbwana Samatta, the Tanzanian striker, have really done it for them. Ultimately, it boils down to the most important things in football: management and recruitment. They remind me of Fulham last season. They came up, had a wealthy owner in Shahid Khan and splashed the cash but wasted most of it and sacked Slavisa Jokanovic and Claudio Ranieri before turning to Scott Parker when it was too late to survive. It was a classic case of coming up with a feelgood factor, having achieved something together, and within a couple of months that business plan was torn up

2020 06 25 Retrieve

[Another ex-Liverpool star, Graeme Souness, agrees that there is little to choose between the Reds and Blues] If you’re making a direct comparison between the two teams, they both have top goalkeepers, you’d rather have Liverpool’s back four and then City’s midfield, then toss a coin for the attackers. It’s a different type of football, both great to watch. But if you’re playing against Liverpool you have to be prepared to go to war with them. They want to bully you, get in your face and be really aggressive. The three midfield players, you wouldn’t describe any of them as silky, they’re all warrior types. They want to run over you. If you’re playing against City they want to play triangles and pass you to death. So they are different but they’re very special. Who would I rather watch? Liverpool [against Palace] were fantastic and, against Arsenal, City were fantastic. We’re enjoying a purple patch. I think these are two special teams in the time of the Premier League. These teams could dominate European football as well

2020 06 26 Retrieve

[Graeme Souness says a star-studded squad will be ‘angry’ at having not won more when at the peak of their powers] They won the Champions League last year and now they have won the Premier League title, but I still think Jurgen Klopp will look back at this period and feel they should have won more than two major trophies. Okay, there was the Club World Cup as well, but to have been so good and so consistent and yet only won two big trophies, I think the players have got to be a bit angry at themselves about that. The challenge for them now is to win the big trophies consistently and establish prolonged dominance like the Liverpool teams of the past. In five years, if they have dominated the Premier League, if they have dominated the Champions League, then they can be considered as good as any team Liverpool has ever had. But to become a legendary team, you’ve got to become serial winners

What I would say is that, given the ages of the players in that Liverpool squad now, given where they are, given the manager they’ve got and the structure in place around the team, they have the potential to go on and become serial winners. These players, especially the goalkeeper and the defenders, could play together for another five years easily. That is a great place to be in, knowing you’ve got that foundation. The signings they have made have been off the charts and Jurgen deserves huge credit for the work he has done

2020 06 27 Retrieve

[Roberto Firmino is as important to the Liverpool cause as Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane] Mo Salah might score the most goals but it would be totally wrong to say this side’s attack is just about him. He’s one of three very special players. I love watching Roberto Firmino play. A couple of years ago, I likened him to Kenny Dalglish. He’s like a big cat walking through the jungle waiting for an opportunity to do damage. His radar is on all the time and he’s got a great football brain, whereas Salah and Sadio Mane, they will catch your eye more because they are direct and they score more goals. They are a wonderful attacking unit, but it’s so important to have a really good defence because you can’t play super football in every single game you play

When it’s not going well, you need to know that you won’t be conceding goals. Then, if you’re on the back foot but you don’t concede, you know that at some point in the 90 minutes, one of your special players is going to create something for someone else or score himself. That’s what we had with Ian Rush. We would be under the cosh, we would clear our lines and a couple of passes later Rushy would be on the end of something, putting the ball in the net, and we would nick the game

Liverpool have that now with their attacking players and that’s what makes them so dangerous. Even when they are not at their very best, they defend well and they’re capable of nicking games. It’s so important to have those players, those goal-getters who can get you 25 in a season

2020 06 29 Retrieve

[How do Liverpool improve? How potentially record-breaking side can still get better] When we were the dominant team during my time as a player, every summer they spent money and brought players in. It was the Liverpool way. I’m thinking of Fabinho and Andy Robertson, they have bought players in the past that do not need to slot into the side straight away, or make an instant impression, and that’s a great place to be

2020 07 05 Retrieve

[Trent Alexander-Arnold: Liverpool right-back could play in midfield] I think the boy could play anywhere in midfield. He started out as a central midfield player and then saw an opening at right-back. You would be reluctant to take him away from where he is because a large part of Liverpool’s attacking play comes from him and [Andrew] Robertson. They have high energy levels, and when they get into the last third, they can deliver. Looking at it now, you’ve just won the league, you are the current European and world champions, so if it ain’t broken, why try to fix it? But the modern defender today, at the top clubs, has to be able to take the ball and play and deliver in the final third, so why not?

If you were to ask him, he would be more than happy to play in midfield because that is, I would say, his natural position. He gets more space in the wide areas and then you see the passing range that he has. But that passing range has obviously been built up over the years playing in central midfield. His decision-making probably comes from having less time when he was in central midfield. He’s had to be aware of what’s going on around him. It’s a different game in there. You are dodging bullets and elbows are up.

If he’s full-back, he knows nothing is coming [to his right] when he receives the ball. Full-back is a very different position and you get plenty of time there to have your first touch, get it out of your feet and get your head up. But he’s as good as anyone when he gets a chance to deliver.

2020 07 05b Retrieve

[Man of the match - Sadio Mane] 28 years old, fantastic attitude, he’s a warrior, it’d be faster to tell you what he hasn’t got - and I can’t think of anything. He’s aggressive with his attitude, he won’t be bullied

2020 07 05c Retrieve

[Graeme Souness on Jack Grealish: Do top teams carry passengers that stand with their hands on their hips?] He has got quality but do the top teams carry passengers when they don’t have the ball? No - they don’t have players that stand with their hands on their hips when they lose the ball. Everyone rolls their sleeves up to be the first, second or third one to press. That is something that is not in his game right now. I’m not denying he has talent - but for me there’s a big question mark

When I was a player, I wouldn’t want to be the most fouled player in the league. That means I’m holding onto the ball too long. That means I’m not seeing the picture early enough, I’m taking extra touches when I don’t need to. He has ability and he’s easy on the eye, silky on the eye. But, I am yet to be convinced by him

When I was being coached at Liverpool, I was told that I had to make the striker’s mind up with my body movement. I’m making them run where I’m looking to kick the ball. I think someone that gets fouled that much isn’t seeing the picture quick enough. As an old midfield player, would I have liked to play against him? I would have loved to have played against him. He allows me to get close to him, get physical with him. I don’t want to play Paul Scholes, Xavi or Andres Iniesta. They are too quick - they pop it off in one or two touches. I want to play against people like him - he would allow me to mess him around

2020 07 05d Retrieve

[Souness thinks Dean Smith has got a huge task on his hands to keep Villa up] I think it’s going to be very difficult for them looking at those games. I always come back to: do their opposition have things to play for? That’s the biggest criteria. Villa should be in the Premier League. I took my son to a game three years ago against Manchester United on a Friday night and he said to me ‘dad, this is a big football club’ - they should always be in the Premier League

It is a big football club. In my day they were league champions. Everything about them oozes Premier League and beyond, into European football. For whatever reason they’ve not been able to get a structure that is settled and maintained over the past couple of decades

2020 07 16 Retrieve

[Asked if Arsenal could secure a top-four finish without spending in the summer transfer window] I don’t think Arsenal will be getting into the top four next season. Manchester United are on the right road, Liverpool and Manchester City are going nowhere, Chelsea have and are going to spend big this summer. Arteta doesn’t know how much money is going to be available this summer, but the noises coming out of the club are not encouraging if he wants £100 or £200m to spend