Tuesday 15 October 2019

'That hurts me badly' - Graeme Souness opens up on big regrets from his time as Liverpool manager

Graeme Souness during his time as Liverpool boss
Graeme Souness during his time as Liverpool boss
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Graeme Souness has opened up on "big regrets" from his tenure as Liverpool manager, in an account that suggests his failure to bring success to the Anfield club remains the biggest regret of his career.

Souness was one of the finest captains Liverpool have ever had and his three European Cup wins secured his place in Anfield folklore long before he took over as the club's manager in 1991, yet he admits he made big mistakes as he tried to stamp his authority on the Liverpool dressing room, as he left his post in 1994.

"That was a job that I was always going to be offered and I took it at the wrong time, there is no doubt about it," he told Sky Sports.

"I got the Liverpool job when I was 38. I had five years at Rangers that had gone really well, I had tremendous support from David Holmes and then David Murray, and I was running the show there and it went very well.

"I was offered the Liverpool job twice and said no twice, and then ultimately said yes. I thought I would go in there and change it. The one thing I learnt going to Italy was there's no real change in how the game should be played, but how players look after themselves. I was one of the chaps when it came to enjoying myself, and I tried to change that, and it was very easy when I went to Rangers to change that because that was a team that hadn't won the league in nine years.

"I was saying 'this is what we are going to do and this is what we will do after the game'. At Rangers they bought into it because they were young boys, so then when I go to Liverpool and say I don't want to see fish and chips after the game and I don't want to see lager under the seats on the bus for the way back, the response you would get would be 'we have always done that'. It was very hard for me to argue that because I had been part of that culture."

In an honest reflection of the errors he made at Liverpool, Souness admitted he was too hasty in his eagerness to change the club.

"I made many mistakes and my biggest crime was trying to make the changes too quickly," he continued.

"One of the biggest mistakes I made was, Peter Robertson, who ran the show at Liverpool and was the chief executive and made all the decisions, said to me; 'do you want to do the contracts'? I had done the contracts at Rangers so I said 'yeah, I'll do those'. I felt that was a monster mistake.

"I remember one incident where we signed Dean Saunders and Mark Wright and they had gone on to earn slightly more than Rushy (Ian Rush) and Ronnie Whelan. I remember Rushy knocking on the door and saying 'you're going to have to give me more money' and I said' I understand why you are saying that, but the money is sneaking up and sneaking up, they have come on big transfer fees and that's why they are getting paid more than you'. But he said 'everything I done for this club…'

"That might have been a Wednesday or Thursday and I was saying to Rushy 'sorry I can't, that's the way it is' and then on Saturday at 2.45pm I have to put my arm around him and say 'make sure you give me everything now'. That was an obvious mistake I made in agreeing to do that."

Souness concluded by expressing his love for the club where he enjoyed his greatest days as a player, as he admitted he looks back with regrets over his spell as the club's manager.

"Liverpool will always be the place I look back in terms of the place where I enjoyed playing, it was just unique," he added. "Liverpool will always be a very special place to me.

"There are things that happened there when I was manager which I deeply regret, but I can't turn back the clock, how I wish I could, but I can't. That hurts me badly, that I am perceived by some people to be something I'm not."

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