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."
|Competition||Total||Won||Draw||Lost||Goals for||Goals against|
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. From British Soccer week 13.05.1993.
Liverpool chairman David Moores has underlined his support for manager Graeme Souness but described the club's position as "totally unacceptable." Article from British Soccer Week 18.02.1993
A furious Graeme Souness threatened an Anfield clear-out in the wake of the FA Cup humiliation by lowly Bolton. From British Soccer Week 14.01.1993.
Graeme Souness quit as Liverpool manager after giving up the struggle to restore the Anfield glory days. Report from British Soccer Week on 3rd February 1994.
An article from British Soccer Week on 1st October 1992 on Liverpool's worst start to a season in 28 years.
Match report from 07.09.1996 by Ken Gaunt of "Press Association".
Match report from British Soccer Week on Liverpool - Chelsea on 01.02.1992.
An article from ThisisBristol.co.uk on 25th of January 2007.
An article from Liverpool Echo on February 8th 2011.
Match report from 04.12.1993 on Sheffield Wednesday - Liverpool from The Daily Express.
Jimmy McGovern wrote the screenplay for "Hillsborough", his wonderfully evocative screenplay about the eponymous 1989 tragedy.
From Sky Sports on 23/10/18.
"He's not coming out. He says he wouldn't know what to say."
Graeme Souness (when the press asked to talk to Fowler after his 5-goal demolition of Fulham, 1993)
"Souness was up on the exercise bike in the Liverpool training centre. The team doctor was present. Graeme asked the doctor to take his blood pressure. It was elevated. He went to see a specialist, who ran a number of tests. When the results came back, Graeme could hardly believe his eyes. Two of his arteries were 75% blocked; another was 90% blocked. He was whipped in for a triple by-pass!"
"I had no doubts that Graeme would become a manager. He had the character and was always a self-confident individual. He's always had a burning desire for success, as a player and now as a manager. And to be fair, he's had his fair share of success in management. He's proved he can win things, in this country and abroad, and everyone up here is just hoping he can do the same with Newcastle now. Given time, I've got no doubt in my mind that he's the right man for this job.
"I'm sure he'll be the first to admit that he made mistakes at Liverpool. It was his first big job in England and perhaps he tried to change things too quickly. By all accounts, he's certainly mellowed a lot since then. But he's still got that burning desire to win trophies and this passion and will to win rubs off on the players."
McDermott in 2005 after joining Newcastle as an assistant to boss Souness
"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."
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."
Souness after Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup in 1993 by lower league Bolton
"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 no 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 tried 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."
Souness on his time as manager of Liverpool
"When I left Rangers, I had the feeling the grass was greener on the other side but now I realise I made a mistake."
Souness looks back
"He's a vain bastard, I thought he was going to tell me that he was having a nose job."
Phil Boersma, Souness' assistant at Liverpool, on the moment Souness told him that he was having a heart bypass
"The injuries didn't help me. Every time I got fit I'd get another injury. It was just non-stop for four years. When I was fit I didn't play too many games. I was a bit disappointed with Souey when he took the club captaincy off me and gave it to Mark Wright. I'd worn the number five shirt for so many years and when the names and squad numbers were introduced I got number 12. It doesn't make you think you're wanted that much in the team. All in all it wasn't great for me the last few years."
Ronnie Whelan on his last years at Liverpool
|Mark Wright||Derby||£2,200,000||12 July 1991|
|Dean Saunders||Derby||£2,900,000||14 July 1991|
|Mark Walters||Rangers||£1,250,000||8 August 1991|
|Rob Jones||Crewe||£300,000||4 October 1991|
|Michael Thomas||Arsenal||£1,500,000||13 December 1991|
|Istvan Kozma||Dunfermilne||£300,000 *||4 February 1992|
|Scott Paterson||Cove Rangers||£15,000||11 March 1992|
|Lee Jones||Wrexham||£300,000||12 March 1992|
|David James||Watford||£1,000,000 *||16 June 1992|
|Paul Stewart||Tottenham||£2,300,000||28 July 1992|
|Torben Piechnik||FC Copenhagen||£500,000||17 September 1992|
|Stig Inge Bjørnebye||Rosenborg||£600,000||15 December 1992|
|Nigel Clough||Nottingham Forest||£2,275,000 *||8 June 1993|
|Neil Ruddock||Tottenham||£2,500,000||20 July 1993|
|Julian Dicks||West Ham United||Player Exchange *||17 September 1993|
|Peter Beardsley||Everton||£1,000,000||5 August 1991|
|Steve Staunton||Aston Villa||£1,100,000||7 August 1991|
|Gary Gillespie||Celtic||£900,000||15 August 1991|
|David Speedie||Blackburn Rovers||£500,000||15 August 1991|
|Jimmy Carter||Arsenal||£500,000||8 October 1991|
|Steve McMahon||Manchester City||£900,000||24 December 1991|
|Gary Ablett||Everton||£750,000||13 January 1992|
|Glenn Hysén||Free Transfer||Free *||14 January 1992|
|Barry Jones||Wrexham||Free||27 May 1992|
|Barry Venison||Newcastle United||£250,000||18 July 1992|
|Ray Houghton||Aston Villa||£825,000||27 July 1992|
|Dean Saunders||Aston Villa||£2,300,000||10 September 1992|
|Tony Cousins||Free Transfer||Free||May 1993|
|Istvan Kozma||Ujpest||Free||1 June 1993|
|David Burrows||West Ham United||Player Exchange *||17 September 1993|
|Mike Marsh||West Ham United||Player Exchange *||17 September 1993|
|Mike Hooper||Newcastle United||£550,000||21 September 1993|
|Ronny Rosenthal||Tottenham||£250,000||26 January 1994|
|Mark Gayle||Crewe||Returns from loan *||March 1994|
|Stig Inge Bjørnebye||23||1632||0||3|