Souness stays

Souness stays

from "British Soccer Week

Graeme Souness has been given the backing of the Liverpool board to see out his contract as manager - and then pledged to turn the club around and win another stay at Anfield.

Speculation was rife that Souness was about to be sacked by the Liverpool board after only two years in charge - and a 1992-93 season that had been all but a disaster by Anfield standards.

Two board meetings at Anfield within the last week had fuelled speculation that Souness was on his way.

And the flamboyant former Rangers boss added to the turmoil by being absent from Liverpool's last match of the season against Tottenham at Anfield - ironically won 6-2 in his absence.

But in the end the axe never fell. Instead, in an afternoon news conference at Anfield which brought to a climax probably the most extraordinary week in the history of the club, chairman David Moores came down on Souness' side.

And the manager said: "I am relieved and delighted. It has been a very stressful week for myself, for this club and for the families of people sitting around this table."

"At no time have I wanted to leave. I would like to serve out my contract and be awarded another."

Former Anfield hero Steve Heighway - currently youth coach at Anfield - was widely touted as Souness' successor, with coach Roy Evans also in the frame.

But Moores said: "The past few days at Anfield have probably been the most difficult in the club's history."

"It has created a furore and we fully understand why. We have always tried to have excellent relations with the media and to be as open and helpful as possible."

"But this time we had to keep our mouths and doors shut until it was sorted out."

"Now it is sorted out and I am pleased to announce that Graeme will be remaining as manager of Liverpool for the three years of his contract - and I hope for much longer."

But one member of the Liverpool board. Tony Ensor, revealed at the same time that he was resigning in protest at the decision.

Moores denied that Liverpool had approached any other club for a successor to Souness, adding: "At no time has Graeme expressed any wish to leave."

"At every stage he has said that he wanted to stay for at least the remaining years of his contract."

"We told him that if he wanted to leave we would pay out his contract in full. It would have been a substantial sum, but he told us he did not want the money - he wanted to stay."

"There is no cash crisis at Anfield. The club remains in a strong financial position. If we had paid out Graeme's contract in full it would have made a fairly small debt in our resources."

Souness said: "I had been to a board meeting and there were several things said which made me doubt if I had the support of all of the board."

He added: "There is no problem whatever between myself and any member of the board."

"I came here two years ago because of the feeling I have for this club."

He revealed: "The pull of this place was that great that I felt I had to come back. The two years I have been here have been slightly less successful than I wanted them to be."

"We won the FA Cup last season. This year has been traumatic because of injuries - and the players I'm sure can do better."

"I know how successful this club has been and I knew that before I took the job the standards have been set here. It was always going to be difficult to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors."

"I'm hurt that we didn't win something this year. It hurts me far more than anyone else. This has not been an experience I've enjoyed, but you are stronger for it."

"I can't wait for the new season. I know we've just finished, but I wish next season was starting tomorrow."

He said suggestions of problems between him and some of the players were "speculation" - and insisted his health had never been better.

Liverpool also announced that Evans had been made assistant manager.

Moores confirmed that one of the club's longest serving employees. Tom Saunders, who would be co-opted onto the board to replace Ensor, who revealed he had resigned as a director.

Graeme Souness' year

APRIL 1992 : Stunned the soccer world by sudden announcement of triple heart by-pass surgery only 24 hours before entering hospital.

MAY 1992 : Watched from the touchline as Liverpool beat Sunderland to win the FA Cup in a rare moment of triumph.

AUGUST 1992 : Divorced by wife Danielle. Returned to Wembley but Liverpool lost Charity Shield to Leeds.

SEPTEMBER 1992 : Watched Liverpool suffer worst start to season for 39 years. Also narrowly escaped club's greatest embarrassment for decades as third division Chesterfield led 3-0 in an Anfield Coca-Cola Cup tie before Liverpool salvaged a 4-4 draw.

OCTOBER 1992 : European Cup Winners' Cup defeat by Spartak Moscow. Souness collected five match UEFA touchline ban for outburst at match officials.

NOVEMBER 1992 : Spartak won 2-0 at Anfield - exit Liverpool after having three players sent-off in the competition.

DECEMBER 1992 : Defeat by Everton in Merseyside derby followed by Coca-Cola cup exit against Crystal Palace. Beaten 5-1 by Coventry in Premier League. Personal sadness as his father dies and house burgled.

JANUARY 1993 : Survived FA Cup third round mauling by second division Bolton after trailing 0-2, but no replay reprieve with a 2-0 defeat at Anfield - the club's greatest embarrassment since losing to non-league Worcester City in 1959.

MARCH 1993 : Fined 600 pounds for motorway speeding. Also in touchline trouble again after being ordered from dug-out for aiming abuse at a linesman during a match against Crystal Palace.

APRIL 1993 : Fined 500 pounds and warned as to future conduct, but escaped fourth touchline ban of career after being found guilty by FA of ungentlemanly conduct during Palace game.

MAY 1993 : Two lengthy board meetings within 48 hours signalled rumours of imminent Souness dismissal. Public torment continued with 3-2 defeat by lowly Oldham, including sending-off of Don Hutchison.

MAY 9, 1993 : Anfield board call a news conference to publicly back their manager, chairman David Moores announcing that Souness would stay for the remaining three years of his contract.

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