Souness blows his stack

from "British Soccer Week"

A furious Graeme Souness threatened an Anfield clear-out in the wake of the FA Cup humiliation by lowly Bolton.

The Anfield boss responded angrily to the 2-0 defeat by the second division side, by effectively branding his players gutless and greedy.

The Anfield defeat and its aftermath have finally seen Liverpool's lacklustre season balloon into a full-blown crisis.

Souness accepts part of the blame, admitting he has made mistakes since taking over almost two years ago, but he refuses to quit, saying: "The only way I know how to respond is to roll up my sleeves and battle on."

But while he's prepared to tough it out and fight for the club, he cannot stomach the lack of drive and passion from his men.

"They don't see playing for Liverpool as the pinnacle of their careers. They are only interested in getting another move or another lump sum of money and that's totally unacceptable. A successful football career used to be about winning things but today it is about how much money you can end up with."

"You can have players with all the ability in the world but when they go out not wanting to run around and fight for the ball as much as other teams then you are going to lose. It is beyond me why, when facing a solid, workmanlike team like Bolton, we are not prepared to match them."

The Bolton humbling was the biggest upset the club has suffered in the FA Cup since Southern League Worcester City put them out in 1959.

And it is the first season since 1951 that both Merseyside giants have gone out in the third round, Everton having lost at home to Wimbledon.

The Bolton defeat effectively ended Liverpool's season in mid-January and Souness accepts that cannot be tolerated.

So despite 13 million pounds of spending already, he promised more changes and in the process pointed an accusing finger at his top stars.

"I'll have to fill the team full of people who want to play and fight for the cause. We don't have enough winners here and I'll have to change that. People here, even so-called stars, can say they are fully committed and passionate about this club but talk is cheap and we have a lot of good talkers here."

Asked if he had felt he had the backing of everyone at the club, Souness continued: "The only backing I have to be concerned about is that of the players because they are the only ones I have any influence on. I have made mistakes. Every manager does, but now is not the time to analyse everything that I have done or not done. This is a far bigger job than I thought and I didn't need last night's result to tell me that. We will be having a meeting tomorrow when the players come in and we will talk. Our aim now has to be to finish as high as we can in the Premier League."

How the players will respond after Souness' outburst is not clear but his words of criticism will certainly sting.

The bookmakers believe they know what will happen, offering odds of 10-1 on Liverpool being relegated with a William Hill spokesman saying: "This is the first time we can remember being asked to quote a price on Liverpool going down."

They offer odds of 6-4 about Graeme Souness no longer being the manager on the first day of next season while former Anfield idol Kevin Keegan, currently boss of runaway first division leaders Newcastle United, has been backed at 10-2 to succeed Souness sometime this year.

As if Souness did not have enough problems, Liverpool suffered another blow when midfield man Michael Thomas was ruled out for the rest of the season. Thomas was carried off early in the second half of the Bolton match and the injury was diagnosed as a snapped Achilles tendon. It has been an unhappy season for injury-plagued Thomas, who joined Liverpool from Arsenal for 1.5 million pounds in December 1991.

While the vultures hover over Anfield, Bolton manager Bruce Rioch was giving his backing. Rioch, a former Merseyside favourite with Everton said: "I would never say anything detrimental about this club or its manager. What they need now is as much support as they have ever needed. I wish them well."

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