Birthdate: 5 June 1953
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Other clubs as manager: Rangers (1986-91), Galatasaray (1995-96), Southampton (1996-97), Torino (1997), Benfica (1997-99), Blackburn Rovers (2000-04), Newcastle United (2004-06)
Arrived from: Rangers
Signed for LFC: 16 April 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
Souness followed best mate Dalglish in the managerial hot seat at Anfield after a successful 5-year-spell at Glasgow Rangers. Dalglish left an ageing side behind but on the other hand future stars like Fowler, McManaman and Redknapp were coming into their own. Liverpool needed a leader in defence to replace Alan Hansen. Mark Wright was bought from Derby as well as striker Dean Saunders. Peter Beardsley was off to Everton and the promising Steve Staunton followed him out of the exit door. Rangers wizard Mark Walters was an old acquintance of Souness, but the best purchase Souness ever did, Rob Jones, arrived in October 1991. However the team was in dire straits early on. At the end of September it was in mid-table and Barnes, Wright and Whelan all out injured. Molby missed 10 weeks and Rush was out for 20 games. Ian Rush blamed Souness for Liverpool's amazing injury list in his autobiography, as Souness had put the players through a strenuous training programme in pre-season: "It produced an incredible series of injuries to the lads, before a single ball had even been kicked."
Souness tried to strengthen his team by purchasing Arsenal's Michael Thomas and the Hungarian Istvan Kozma arrived from Dunfermilne. Liverpool's quest in Europe started against Auxerre. LFC lost the away game 2-0, but an impressive performance at Anfield ensured a 3-0 victory. Tirol was an easy prey, but Genoa in the 4th round proved an obstacle that LFC could not deal with. Liverpool finished 6th in the league, 18 points behind champions Leeds. The FA cup proved more successful. The promising Steve McManaman proved the catalyst in the FA cup final. Thomas and Rush delivered the goals. Souness had missed several games himself in April and May because he had to undergo a triple by-pass heart surgery. He was though in charge at Wembley, but could hardly enjoy his only cup victory as Liverpool's boss.
However the beginning of the end for Souness was already in motion in mid-April when he sold the hated Sun his by-pass operation story, on the third anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. Liverpool supporters would never forgive him this error. Souness himself admitted that he wanted to change things too quickly. Established stars like Beardsley, McMahon, Venison and Houghton were on their way while he bought players of much lesser talent like Walters, Kozma, Dicks, Clough, Stewart, etc.
In the summer of 1992 David James was signed as a future replacement for the ageing Grobbelaar. Liverpool made their worst start to a season for 39 years. The alarm bells were seriously ringing! Dean Saunders was gone, the hardly legendary defender Torben Piechnik bought. Liverpool made a 4-4 draw at Anfield against 3rd division side Chesterfield, in which they they were 3-0 down for a period. Souness was unable to utilise the talents of John Barnes and Jan Molby through injury. Nobody seemed up to their task, Souness had even used three goalkeepers by November; James, Grobbelaar and Hooper. Souness wasn't even present for the final game of the season against Tottenham at Anfield. He was instead sent away to run the rule over Coventry vs Leeds United. It was widely expected that Souness would leave before the start of next season, but the board decided to promote Roy Evans to assistant manager, clearly indicating he would take over from Souness if things didn’t work out as planned.
Souness strengthened his side by signing Nigel Clough for 2,275 million pounds from Nottingham Forest and 2,5 million pound Neil Ruddock from Tottenham. Liverpool started the season in emphatic fashion with three wins, but three defeats in a row in September put things into perspective. October and the start of November proved to be fruitful, a 5-2-0 record. Liverpool ended 1993 by drawing four league games in a row. Liverpool were in 7th place with 36 points from 23 games midway through the season.
A 1-1 draw away with Bristol City in the FA Cup 3rd round caused concern which changed to panic when Liverpool lost the replay at Anfield 0-1. This was totally unacceptable and Souness knew it! He handed in his resignation the following week. He was not present at the mandatory press conference but instead issued a statement confessing: " "This is a sad day for me. After a great deal of soul searching I have reached the conclusion that the best thing for the club and I is that we should part company. I took this job believing that I could return the club to its former glory but this proved to be more difficult than I anticipated. The fans have been very patient but I feel that their patience is now running out. Liverpool Football Club has, and always will have, a very special place in my heart and I can only wish the club well and every success in the future. I wish to thank the chairman, the board and everyone else associated with the club for their help and support which they have given me during my term as manager."
Chairman David Moores was certainly sorry to see his friend leave and cited Souness’s heart surgery, his father’s death and the unprecedented amount of players' injuries not helping him in the job. But no matter what had happened it came finally down to just one thing: "The results have been well below what is expected by the club and its supporters."
Souness pulls no punches when he looks back on his managerial career at Liverpool! "Bill Shankly had a problem telling players like St John And Yeats that they were too old, and, as a result, he went seven years without winning anything. He got too close to some of the players, but he never made that mistake again. Liverpool always outed at the first sign of decline. Then they'd give a new player a season or two to look at the scene before moving into the first team. I can tell you when I was a manager there, I never enjoyed such a luxury. Kenny came through Heysel and Hillsborough with some of his players. He'd become so emotionally involved with the whole Liverpool thing that he found it hard to say thanks, but not thanks. Then I came along and my job was to move all the people away. So I was the bad guy. Nobody's ever written or said that. Sure, I know I made mistakes, both in my manner and the way in which I treid to change things too quickly. But everyone accepted that that when I took the job that it was the most difficult period for the club in its recent history. We managed to win the cup in my 2 and 1/2 years, but my timing was all wrong. Players like Redknapp, McManaman and Fowler were waiting to flourish, but were still too young.
From the operation until the day I resigned in April 1994, I didn't enjoy the job. The criticism I received from people I played with really pissed me off. I think of them as professional Scousers, people who went on and on about their love for the club. Nobody could accuse me of not putting everything into Liverpool, both as a player and as a manager. Liverpool always used to expect the older, more experienced players to put things right if things weren't going well. I adopted the same approach, but players like Steve Nicol, Bruce Grobbelaar and Ronnie Whelan were queueing up for testimonials.
Contrary to popular belief, I was under no pressure, but I'd fallen out of love with football. The chairman suggested I should give it a little longer at the club, but I told him I didn't enjoy it any more."