Troy - you’ve got to be kidding me. Souness could play in any era

Published: Monday, 27 March 2023

I got sent this the other day….


Where do I start? I guess with the author. It’s a cutting from last week’s column in The Sun (I’ve no idea why I‘ve just mentioned them - apologies) by Troy Deeney.

I don’t know Deeney. What I do know is that he comes across as a great guy and I would always have wanted him in my team. He’s a winner. A warrior. So he has that in common with Souness.

As Deeney himself would admit - that’s where the comparisons end. Souness was a Rolls-Royce. Deeney was more Herman Aubrey ‘Boycie’ Boyce from Only Fools and Horses. He certainly had me laughing - as Boycie used to - with what he said about Souness.

As ever - in the interests of transparency (as regulars know) - Graeme has been a long-time friend of mine. We go back to the time when he was dominating Liverpool’s mid-field in the 80’s. No - dominating big football matches all over Europe. He was magnificent. He’d have games won in the tunnel before he walked onto a pitch. He was both intimidating and regal. He could do both. (No pace btw).

I guess he had that in common with Roy Keane - another warrior, another leader, but Souness was ten times the player Keane was. Keane could inspire a team all right. The night he got United over the line in Turin, knowing that he’d miss the CL final that was to follow, he was awesome. But he was a thug as well. What he did to Alf-Inge Haland was a disgrace. It went way past the bounds of what’s acceptsble on a football pitch. Keane should’ve gone to jail for that assault. A similar attack in a street would’ve seen him sent down. Had he ever come up against Souness throwing his weight about the Scot would’ve had him on toast.

What on earth am I doing? I making comparisons, which isn’t what I set out to do, but I guess Deeney forced my hand here.

Would we describe Keane as a ‘modern day’ player? I think we would, but you could put any of today’s ‘monsters’ up against him and Souness would’ve had them in his pocket. I’ll get back to the idea that James Milner would ‘run all over prime Souness’ in a moment. That really is hilarious by the way.

Let me tell you this about Graeme. Yes - he could look after himself - and his team-mates. I remember when Arsenal’s Peter Nicholas fancied ‘running all over him’ in a League Cup semi-final. Nicholas got Ray Kennedy sent-off in the first leg at Highbury - effectively ending Kennedy’s Liverpool career. If memory serves me right he’d also been sent-off in the preceding league game so it was decided he was becoming a liability and Liverpool moved him on to Swansea.

Anyway - we all knew what was going to happen to Nicholas in the 2nd leg He didn’t get past the half hour mark. Having blasted Keane for his recklessness I should point out that there was a honest dishonesty about the challenge that saw Nicholas stretchered off.

These are the stories that people talk about a lot when Graeme’s name comes up. I guess Deeney has heard plenty of them? Deeney says of Souness’s challenges would be deemed illegal today. They were when he played Troy! The point is - I saw them. I saw Souness in his pomp and believe me, as I’ve said he loved a battle, but he was simply one of the best players I’ve ever had the privilege to watch play the game.

Souness would float across pitches (slowly - no pace) caressing passes this way and that - long and short - easy and difficult - with either foot. As he would say himself - he had ‘a habit it continually passing to the same coloured shirt’. 😂. But it’s true - he did. And there were many like Milner, who Deeney believes would’ve ‘run all over him’. Many tried. Souness would hear them coming and play round them.

Graeme laughs at the tales of his leaving bodies strewn around pitches. He’s really was a craftsman in that respect. When he finally settled an on-going dispute with Leeds’ Terry Yorath, who was at Coventry when this happened, Yorath was stretchered off applauding the challenge that got him! It was another one that was honestly dishonest.

I should also mention that Souness would get 10 goals a season - all before Christmas mind you. They tended to dry up after December when he’d be paying out Terry McDermott on their annual bet about who’d get the most goals in a season. McDermott always at least doubled Graeme’s total.

You’ll hear many say that we shouldn’t make comparisons between players of different era’s and that’s why I said what I did earlier. I don’t mind though. It sparks debate - but here’s the thing. What’s for certain is that the very best players would be able to play in any era. That’s why Deeney is wrong. No disrespect intended James - but you really can’t mention Milner’s name in the same sentence as Souness’s.

On the subject of comparisons - here’s one to discuss later in the pub. George Best was Messi long before we ever heard of Messi. I’d love to see Best playing now in the position that Messi does. Wow.

Before I leave the subject of Liverpool ‘greats’ - a quick word about Steven Gerrard.

If Gerrard still has ambitions to manage/coach in the PL I really think he should be swerving the legends games - the likes of which we saw at Anfield last weekend.

Gerrard needs to distance himself from Liverpool for a few years more yet. One of his biggest problems at Villa was that their fans largely saw him as Liverpool’s captain. It was ok to start with - Gerrard said all the right things, but as time progressed and things weren’t going so well, it was an easy stick to beat him with - even though he’d had those two years at Rangers as well.

Perhaps he’s given up believing that he’s got a coaching career, but if he hasn’t, I firmly believe he’s definitely got to give those games up. Either way - he shouldn’t be taunting Celtic fans as he did after scoring. I know it’s hard and I know they’d been on at him all through the game - but he’s a big boy and he knows it’s all part of the gig. Those fans had paid their money to charity (the players always get paid btw) and so they had a right to get involved in the occasion.

What did we tell you about Conte a week ago? Pretty obvious really wasn’t it?

And welcome back ‘Mr Roy’ - as the Italians always referred to him. As you know, I had Palace down for a struggle at the start of the season. Do they never learn at Selhurst Park? Every time they want to ‘soften’ the way they play it ends up as it did for Vieria. As I’ve said before - know what you are. Accept it. Palace are a steady PL team - in for the occasional relegation tussle and the odd Cup run. That’s it. No more - but they’ve got to earn the right to do simply that. Players are at Palace for a reason. They’d be elsewhere if they could really ‘play’.

Hodgson will keep them up.