Graeme James Souness is a Scottish former professional football player and manager. He is perhaps best known as the former captain of the successful Liverpool team of the early 1980s, and as a manager notably with Rangers, Liverpool, Benfica, Galatasaray, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.
The three years which followed were uneventful for Souness and relatively disastrous for Liverpool. There was little success on the field, with only a 2-0 victory in the 1992 FA Cup final over Second Division Sunderland, but poor tactics, ill-judged transfer dealings and poor man management brought one of the bleakest spells in the history of one of Europe's most successful clubs of all time.
His appointment came just before Liverpool finished second to Arsenal in the race for the 1990-91 league title. He made a major reorganisation of the squad for the following season, bringing in Dean Saunders for a national record of £2.9million as well as defenders Mark Wright and Rob Jones and midfielder Mark Walters. He also gave a regular place in the team to 19-year-old midfielder Steve McManaman, whose debut had come under Kenny Dalglish in December 1990, and near the end of that campaign he gave a professional contract to a highly promising youth team striker called Robbie Fowler.
During the first stages of the 1991-92 season, Liverpool were looking like serious title contenders, but it soon became an effective two-horse race between Manchester United and Leeds United, eventually being won by the team from West Yorkshire, while Livepool came sixth - the FA Cup win being their consolation. They also returned to European competition that season after six years of isolation following the Heysel disaster of 1985, and reached the UEFA Cup quarter finals where they were eliminated by Genoa of Italy.
Rumours about squabbles in the dressing room between the players and Souness were rife, with Ian Rush famously telling a Sky Sports interviewer that 'teacups being thrown' were nothing new. One of the few successes, barring the FA Cup triumph, that Souness enjoyed while manager of Liverpool was the fact that he had blooded several new prodigious young talents like Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler allowing them to play and develop in the first team. Both went on to be highly successful for both club and country.
Souness had major heart surgery in 1992, and led his players out at Wembley for the FA Cup final just days after leaving hospital. But there had been controversy over the semi-final against Portsmouth, which Liverpool needed a replay and penalties to win. In the event of a victory for Liverpool, an interview was due to be published in The Sun, a British tabloid, with Souness celebrating the win and his own successful surgery. The photograph which accompanied the interview was of Souness, in his hospital ward, kissing his girlfriend with joy at his own recovery and his team's win. The interview was due to go in alongside the match report on 14 April 1992 but the late end to the game meant that the deadline for publication was missed and the report, with interview and photograph, went in on 15 April instead - the third anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Liverpool fans reacted with fury after seeing that the interview was conducted with The Sun - a newspaper which had been boycotted by many people on Merseyside for the intervening years over its reporting of the events at Hillsborough. Although he apologised profusely at the time, Souness has since said that he probably should have resigned.
1992-93 was even more frustrating. Just after the start of the season, he sold Dean Saunders to Aston Villa. While Saunders was a key player in Villa's near-successful title challenge, his successor Paul Stewart proved to be perhaps the biggest flop to play under Souness at Liverpool, scoring just one league goal from 32 appearances over the next two seasons and missing countless games through injury. Ian Rush was having a torrid time in front of goal, and Liverpool spent most of the season in the bottom half of the table. They entered March still only in 15th place, but an excellent final quarter of the season - in which Rush scored 11 Premier League goals - saw them finish sixth.
The fans were running out of patience with Souness, but he made one last attempt at revitalising Liverpool by signing defender Julian Dicks and striker Nigel Clough during the 1993 close season. The season began well enough, but a dismal run of form in early winter effectively ended hopes of the Premier League title and Souness finally stepped down at the end of January 1994 when Liverpool had suffered a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Bristol City. He was succeeded by coach Roy Evans.
Souness's reign as Liverpool manager was not remembered with fondness by the club's fans, though there were some positive events. Apart from guiding them to FA Cup glory in 1992, he also oversaw the breakthrough of three young players who would go on to be a key part in Liverpool's better performances over the next five years - Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp. In 1992, he had also brought in David James as an eventual successor to Bruce Grobbelaar (who finally left in 1994) and although the player's fortunes at Anfield were mixed, he later went on to enjoy better fortunes elsewhere and was still keeping goal for England at the end of the following decade as he approached his 40th birthday.
|Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland|
|Other clubs as manager: Rangers, Galatasaray, Torino, Benfica, Southampton, Blackburn|
|Arrived from: Rangers|
|Signed for LFC: 16.04.1991|
|First game in charge: 20.04.1991|
|Contract expiry: 28.01.1994|
|LFC league games as manager: 115|
|Total LFC games as manager: 157|
|Honours: F.A. cup winners 1992|