Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
McBain

The Athletic

Recommended Posts

Finishing sessions with McManaman! What next? Tackling sessions with Paul Scholes? Community integration sessions with Paul Konchesky?

 

Was he such a bad finisher? I always saw his main weakness as losing possession.

I haven’t seen anything copied and pasted, is that because of solidarity with your silicone valley pals, greed and selfishness due to paying a sub, or is there some sort of block on copying and pasting?

 

here ye go:

 

That Graeme Souness and Phil Thompson cannot even agree on when their relationship started to break down reveals not only the depth of their feud but also how long it lasted, if it has even really ended.
 
 
The pair were pillars of the most decorated side in Liverpool’s history, one which won five league titles as well as three European Cups in the seven seasons they were team-mates.
 
 
Their shared story shows successful dressing rooms are not always the most harmonious, especially after a weekend where Sadio Mane’s outburst in Liverpool’s victory at Burnley led to reasonable questions about his rapport with Mohamed Salah. If that is what we see in public, then what happens in private?
 
 
Souness (circled left in the image above), at least, wonders whether Thompson’s attitude towards him changed in the summer of 1981 behind the curtains of a private function suite at the Burlington House hotel in Dublin. Liverpool had played a pre-season friendly with Home Farm at Tolka Park, winning 5-0. They were European champions and Thompson (circled right) had become the first Merseyside-born European Cup-winning captain in the club’s history. He was therefore “boosted by another injection of confidence he didn’t really need,” according to another team-mate in the room that night.
 
 
Jokes were flying, as they tended to on such trips. Trays of beer were supplied on the club’s account. It was just past midnight when Thompson, according to Souness in his 1999 autobiography, suggested he only married his first wife because she came from a wealthy background. “I tossed my pint of lager over him and threw a punch,” admitted Souness, who was separated from his captain by team-mates without Thompson being able to punch him back.
 
 
“This infuriated Thommo,” said one of the onlookers. It had seemed the next morning with clearer heads that the matter had been settled. “It was the sort of blow-out that happened regularly,” reflected another player. Yet Souness wondered whether Thompson ever forgave him or ever forgot.
 
 
“Players used to fight all the time,” says Bryan Robson, Manchester United’s midfield leader. “But if someone had a dig at me as captain and I didn’t get the chance to have a go back, I’d see it as a threat to my captaincy.”
 
 
Inside six months, Thompson would lose the responsibility he cherished most, one which gave him the privilege of celebrating his team’s latest European Cup victory by taking the trophy back to The Falcon pub in Kirkby, close to where he grew up. That he would lose the captaincy to Souness, for him, was not a coincidence — though he claims it was only at the point Bob Paisley revealed his decision that any connection he had previously with Souness began to melt away.
 
 
Souness had seen something of himself in Thompson because of his “burning ambition to be a success”. Yet their experiences had been different, with Thompson joining Liverpool as a YTS before reaching the first team without a great deal of disappointment featuring in his professional life, though this never impacted on his drive or determination.
 
 
Souness would emerge as one of football’s most fearless characters of the 1980s but, before that, he was allowed to leave Tottenham where he felt bullied by the club’s most experienced players — those, he believed, were threatened by his talents as well as his belief. Football had taught him that if a player lets one comment slip, others will follow. Although Thompson went out of his way to help Souness settle on Merseyside upon his arrival in 1978 by inviting him for nights out with Terry McDermott, he — like Thompson — was an emboldened personality by 1981, someone who was acutely aware of his high status and reputation in the game.
 
 
“There was piss-taking, arguments, fights and big drinking sessions almost on a weekly basis throughout the 1970s and 1980s,” one prominent Liverpool player says.
 
 
 
Thompson in action during the 1980 FA Charity Shield. (Photo: Allsport/Getty Images)
 
Ray Kennedy remembers Souness thumping him in training for the simple act of trying a long pass when he’d been instructed to feed the ball into the middle of midfield. Though Kennedy forgave Souness, Thompson — suggest some team-mates — was not able to after what happened in Dublin. Animosity festered over the season that followed, as Liverpool toiled through the first half of their league campaign, winning five, drawing six and losing four games.
 
 
The watershed would prove to be on a tumultuous Boxing Day. Joe Corrigan, Manchester City’s goalkeeper, was hit by a glass bottle and visiting players were instructed by their manager John Bond to hide on the floor of their bus as it was attacked as they left Anfield. Somewhere in the middle of all that was a 3-1 victory for City and Liverpool’s worst league performance at home in years.
 
 
Bruce Grobbelaar’s presence in goal was a problem for a defence that included Thompson. Grobbelaar had replaced Ray Clemence, Liverpool’s goalkeeper for the previous decade — someone the central defenders understood. The manner of City’s goals illustrated Liverpool’s problems.
 
 
“It took me a long time to adjust to being without Clem,” admitted Thompson, whose entire professional career had been spent playing in front of the England goalkeeper. Thompson remembered hesitating on the edge of his own six-yard box, taking two touches, which allowed Asa Hartford to seize possession and score City’s first. When his unruly clearance did not leave the penalty box and Grobbelaar dropped the catch, Thompson then made a spectacular save on the goal line. He was “doing what his goalkeeper should have done in the first place,” as the BBC commentator pointed out, before Kevin Bond slammed home the subsequent penalty.
 
 
Though Ronnie Whelan’s curling left-footed goal gave Liverpool late hope of a recovery, Thompson —who would have been sent off in the modern game for his role in City’s second — was also involved for City’s third of the afternoon. He allowed Kevin Reeves to get in front of him at the near post and confirm an away victory. It meant Liverpool entered 1982 twelfth in the league, a whopping nine points behind surprise leaders, Swansea City.
 
 
This lowly position led to a Daily Mirror prediction that the Anfield empire was “crumbling”. An anonymous column in the relatively conservative Daily Post newspaper the following Monday morning suggested it might even be time for Paisley to retire.
 
 
According to Ian Herbert in his biography of Paisley, it was Joe Fagan rather than the manager who took Liverpool’s players to task after losing to City. Phil Neal, another future Liverpool captain, remembered the senior figures getting the most criticism, with Souness being told he was not winning enough tackles and Dalglish reminded it was his job to score goals.
 
 
Paisley loitered in the corridor, gathering his thoughts, and decided to wait until the following week to address Liverpool’s problems. But the post-match inquest between Liverpool’s players went on too long for his liking — something which had been a feature of Thompson’s captaincy. Paisley felt such gatherings and introspection was counter-productive and this led to him marching back into the dressing room before saying: “The meetings must stop…get out of here.”
 
 
Paisley may have been a man of few indecipherable words but he was decisive and history proved him as a sound judge. Souness claims he was offered the captaincy at Melwood four days later as he stood behind the goal while other players practised their shooting. Souness sustained an ankle injury against City and was resting when Paisley approached him and said straight up: “Do you want to be captain?” Souness was surprised because he believed Neal and Dalglish were ahead of him in the pecking order. “It was never my style to go and ask for somebody else’s job,” he insisted.
 
 
He had thought Thompson had “dug his own grave” a few weeks earlier after Liverpool lost 3-0 to Brazilian side Flamengo in the Intercontinental Cup final in Japan. Paisley reacted to that defeat by turning on Thompson, asking him in front of the squad whether the challenge of captaining Liverpool was proving too much for him. Paisley did not let players cross him and, when Thompson responded to that suggestion by unleashing a broadside of his own, some of his team-mates speculated how the manager would react. For Souness, “Phil lost the job when he gave Bob a mouthful in front of the rest of the lads”.
 
 
There had been some half-jokes in the Liverpool dressing room about Souness’s relationship with Paisley, with players wondering whether it was merely a coincidence that they lived close to one another. Paisley had a friend in West Derby who owned a garage and on his way into training he’d stop for a cup of tea before reading the Racing Post and popping around the corner to a bookmaker to place a couple of bets. Souness used to take his children to school around that time of day and he got into the habit of meeting Paisley “every morning — but I was never seeking to take an advantage”.
 
 
From Thompson’s perspective, it was understandable he was hurt to find other players knew about his sacking as captain before he’d been told himself. The squad was on the coach run between Anfield and Melwood when Fagan approached Thompson as he sat beside McDermott, telling him that Paisley wanted to see him in his office after training. Ray Kennedy was sitting behind the pair and he lurched forward, telling Thompson: “I know what this is about…Graeme Souness will be the new captain.” Thompson resisted the urge to unleash his fury. “Now there’s a surprise,” he said quietly, folding his arms and staring out of the window.
 
 
The meeting that followed was brief. Though Paisley was a ruthless decision-maker he was uncomfortable in confrontation and bad at expressing himself. When he told Thompson he was taking the captaincy off him “for now”, Thompson knew that was the end for him. Though he disagreed with the decision, he struggled with the idea of other players knowing about it before him as well as the thought of Souness potentially promoting himself at his expense whenever he and Paisley met at the West Derby garage. “It’s Graeme f***ing Souness, isn’t it” he asked, moving the conversation on to the significant detail of his replacement. Typically, Paisley muttered a reply — something like, “Aye, we’ll see how it goes n’that.”
 
 
Thompson decided two things as he drove away from Anfield’s car park that afternoon. He would not let Paisley’s decision break him, deciding instead to be positive and more aggressive than ever on the pitch at least. He would also ignore Souness, which he managed for several months as Liverpool’s form returned, winning 19 of their next 20 league games to become champions again.
 
 
Thompson cannot remember which away fixture it was but Liverpool’s players were on their morning walk and split into two groups when Souness waited for Thompson to catch up. “We need to talk,” Souness said, telling him he had nothing to do with Paisley’s decision to change captain. “Ok,” Thompson said. He knew Liverpool were getting closer to another title and he didn’t want to jeopardise that by starting an argument.
 
 
By then, all of the Liverpool squad were aware of Bond’s comments to Liverpool’s coaching staff in the Boot Room immediately after City’s Boxing Day win at Anfield, where he had claimed that the result had put Liverpool out of the title race. Paisley wasn’t around to hear that observation, but Ronnie Moran, the legendary coach, told Bond: “Just wait and see about that. It’s a long time until May.”
 
 
The tension between Thompson and Souness simmered for the next two seasons but it did not stop the Liverpool tank from continuing to roll through Europe while dominating the domestic game as well. The pair would leave the club around the same time in 1984. Souness decided to test himself in Italy with Sampdoria while Thompson signed for Sheffield United in the English second division.
 
 
While Souness returned to Britain as player-manager of Rangers before leading the Glasgow club into an unprecedented era of success, Thompson was soon back at Liverpool after “Kenny Dalglish called me home” by offering him a place on his coaching staff.
 
 
Thompson remained in position for the next six years until Souness returned to Anfield himself as manager. He was “quite content to let him (Thompson) get on with his job while I concentrated on mine”.
 
 
“It never crossed my mind I might have a problem with him,” Souness stressed.
 
 
The mood shifted quickly, however — according to Thompson — when he went to Peter Robinson, the club’s secretary, to discuss a new contract. Souness was attempting to heave Liverpool towards the 21st century by changing training methods, daily routines and taking more responsibility on himself. His achievement in transforming Rangers into the dominant force in Scottish football had, according to some of the players that were still at Liverpool from his own playing days, “made him give off the impression that he felt indestructible — capable of taking anything on.”
 
 
This included contract negotiations, a decision which proved to be a big mistake and gave former team-mates reason to bicker about their new manager as he tried to reduce the age of the squad. Thompson, who’d always gone to Robinson like any other football-related employee, was told by Souness abruptly: “I believe you have been to see Peter about a rise? I don’t want you doing this. In future, I will deal with any of those decisions. I am dealing with everything.”
 
 
Souness, according to Thompson, reassured him that he saw him as his new Ronnie Moran. Moran was notoriously strict and Thompson saw Souness’s comparison as an invitation to take on the role of enforcer with the reserves. Because of a horrendous injury list in the first team, which many speculated was a result of Souness’s gruelling methods, the manager’s interest in the players at reserve level increased as he looked for greater squad depth.
 
 
 
Souness (centre) with Moran (right) at Anfield. (Photo: Dan Smith/Allsport/Getty Images)
 
Thompson’s voice, Souness thought, was echoing around near-deserted grounds and some of the messages being dealt out were harsher than necessary. “Phil’s cursing and swearing could be heard by everyone within earshot,” Souness wrote in his 1999 autobiography, though he was not immediately concerned because he appreciated Thompson was passionate about his job.
 
 
Thompson reasoned that Moran’s authoritarian approach had served him well. “It did no harm to my career,” he said. Board members at Anfield, however, did not feel the same way. When Souness told Thompson to tone down his comments without reprimanding him, he figured that would be the end of the story but there were more problems to come.
 
 
Steve Heighway was the legendary Liverpool winger with a university degree who ran the club’s youth system. Heighway would play an integral role in the development of Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. Souness received word that some of Liverpool’s young players were scared to make the step up from the youth system into the reserves because of Thompson’s ferocious reputation.
 
 
Souness saw Heighway as a crucial member of his staff, someone who was “highly respected … and enjoyed the trust of the parents and kids alike”. He recognised it as important that the club should have such a figure in his position, giving Liverpool an advantage when it came to attracting talent to the club. McManaman, Fowler, Owen and Carragher had all grown up as Evertonians but Heighway was key in bringing them to Liverpool. “The parents, no matter who they support, can’t ignore Liverpool when Steve Heighway knocks on your front door,” Carragher recalled.
 
 
When an argument exploded between Heighway and Thompson, Souness was asked by his secretary to intervene. Her office at Anfield was next to Heighway’s and she could hear them “going at it hammer and tongs”. The secretary feared the pair were going to start a fight and Souness described the language as “embarrassing”. But Liverpool’s manager was prepared to let the incident lie providing Thompson “modified” his words when communicating with players and staff alike.
 
 
This stance changed after Souness heard about conversations involving Thompson in his absence. A triple heart bypass operation had left Souness in a Manchester hospital and Moran in charge of first-team affairs with Roy Evans as his assistant. Thompson had allegedly attempted to “promote” himself in the power gap that Souness had left behind, dominating team talks before games.
 
 
On the penultimate weekend of the 1991-92 season, Liverpool beat Manchester United at Anfield, a result that handed Leeds United the last First Division title. In Anfield’s boardroom after that victory, Souness alleges that Thompson bad-mouthed him in front of Brian Kidd, United’s assistant, who promptly told Alex Ferguson. Ferguson called Archie Knox, the former United assistant who had returned to Scotland to work with Walter Smith at Rangers — the club Souness had transformed with Smith’s help as assistant before returning to Liverpool. The next day, Smith drove all the way from Glasgow to inform Souness what was going on at his own club.
 
 
Souness told Robinson that he wanted to sack Thompson. When Robinson put the motion to the board of directors, “there was not one objection” according to Souness, who was in the room when the decision was ratified.
 
 
Liverpool would beat Sunderland in the FA Cup final in May 1992 and when Thompson went to collect his winners’ bonus from Robinson, he was told that he should speak to Souness first. It was a Thursday when Thompson called him, demanding to know what was going on. Though Souness initially told him to wait until Monday for a meeting, Thompson was insistent and so via his car phone, Souness told him: “I’m sacking you.”
 
 
In his autobiography, Thompson recalled a subsequent conversation with Liverpool’s chairman, David Moores, when he told him: “You and I know this is personal.” He wondered whether Souness feared for his own position and had wanted to remove competition. In April 1992, Souness’s decision to grant an interview about his heart operation to The Sun, a newspaper which had printed lies about the role of Liverpool supporters in the Hillsborough disaster, had led to calls for him to be sacked. Thompson was one of the names in the running to be his replacement.
 
 
Souness lasted another season and a half before leaving Anfield with a shattered reputation, but Thompson returned to the club in 1998, saying: “I’ll always love Liverpool more than I hate Souness.” They would not speak again until 2009 after seeing each other at the funeral of Bryce Morrison, another long-serving secretary at Liverpool.
 
 
Separately, the pair claimed then that the rift was over, yet anyone who has listened to the rawness in some of the stories offered by Thompson in one of his after-dinner speeches would arrive at the conclusion it would not take much for old wounds to re-open. Though both now work for Sky television, perhaps it is significant they have never appeared on the same show.
 
 
According to one former Liverpool player who played with the pair, the hostility between them helped the team but only for a short time as Liverpool’s pursued the 1981-82 First Division title. “Thommo was desperate to prove he was still an important player while Graeme was desperate to prove he was going to make a great captain,” he recalled. “A manager can use this dynamic between players to his advantage but amongst his own staff…it never works out.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great article about Thompson and Souness.

I found it a bit of a chore to get through to be honest. The structure of little paragraphs and lots of detail about each incident got a bit boring.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found it a bit of a chore to get through to be honest. The structure of little paragraphs and lots of detail about each incident got a bit boring.

 

Yeah it was a load of b****x really.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish TAW would stop telling me how great The Athletic is. It makes me more likely to unsubscribe from it than sign up to The Athletic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish TAW would stop telling me how great The Athletic is. It makes me more likely to unsubscribe from it than sign up to The Athletic

Redman TV the same Edited by Red2Core

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish TAW would stop telling me how great The Athletic is. It makes me more likely to unsubscribe from it than sign up to The Athletic

 

Redman TV the same

 

Reckon money has changed hands there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TAW are sponsored by them this season. Totally football are plugging the athletic every show too.

 

Fair enough if it's obvious. Would have thought that The Athletic would be a competitor though

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

signed up to this thing the other week when i was away on holidays.

 

The app is a pain the a***. 

 

My feed is generally taken up by bulls*** stories about Nascar and other nothingless crap from the US. 

 

Even the boxing news on it is just american based. Utter s***e.

 

I will not be signing up for a second year thats for sure. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

signed up to this thing the other week when i was away on holidays.

 

The app is a pain the a***. 

 

My feed is generally taken up by bulls*** stories about Nascar and other nothingless crap from the US. 

 

Even the boxing news on it is just american based. Utter s****.

 

I will not be signing up for a second year thats for sure. 

 

You tailor your feed to show what you want it to. So it's showing you that cos you either haven't done it, or you've selected Nascar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You tailor your feed to show what you want it to. So it's showing you that cos you either haven't done it, or you've selected Nascar.

 

i selected "motorsport", but i dont get any moto gp news, just that american crap.

 

The app is mickey mouse imo. It wont last

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So you ticked motorsport and you're annoyed that you're getting motorsport? I really don't think that's a problem with the App. But I think the reason you won't get MotoGP is they don't do it. Same with F1.

 

Motorsport probably means Nascar and Indycar I guess. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll be in a news bubble soon, getting all the motoGP news and ambivalent to the outside world.

 

Hopefully you take heed and open a vent before you die in that american carbomono tent of death.

 

I hope the athletic comes a cropper btw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve noticed the quality of writing has improved outside of the athletic too. If it raises the standards across the board, great!

 

I am surprised no one has raised the undertone of racial bias. Why is mane going down when fouled, diving, but when Kane, vardy or James go down when someone breathes near them, fair?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of star journalists really pecks my swede.

 

I'd have to be pretty f*cking bereft to look forward to a James Pearce article.

 

We really need an 'amused snort' smiley / emoticon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of star journalists really pecks my swede.

 

I'd have to be pretty f*cking bereft to look forward to a James Pearce article.

It’s not that I mind paying for stuff or don’t want people to make money, it’s just that this whole project is a c***’s projects. They’re d****eads man!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...