Football: Souness takes on Saints challenge

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Graeme Souness, speaking on his return to English football two years after his bitter departure from Anfield, said he had one early target: to steer Matthew Le Tissier back into the England set-up.

Souness, formerly in charge of Rangers, Liverpool and Galatasaray, of Istanbul, was yesterday named as Southampton's new manager, with a lucrative three-year contract. "Le Tissier is the most talented footballer in Britain, and if he is honest with himself he knows he could do more than he did last season," Souness said.

"I want to get more out of him and I want to get him back where he belongs - that's back in the England side," Souness added. "With someone of Matthew's ability in your side, you've always got a chance of winning any match. He is a very special talent and he must be treated in a special way. I think that everyone at the club appreciates that, even the other players."

The former Scottish international midfielder, sacked by the Turkish club, Galatasaray, at the end of last season, takes over from Dave Merrington, who was dismissed by the Saints last month. Souness will be in charge of team matters at The Dell, with Lawrie McMenemy continuing as director of football, and the new manager said: "As anyone who knows me will tell you, I love a challenge - but we have to be realistic.

"I know that it will be difficult, but I believe that Southampton are a better team than last season's position indicates. The season before they came 10th with more or less the same set of players - and that's what we've got to aim for," Souness added. "I think I have mellowed a lot. Maybe I am prepared to listen to other people more than I have ever done.

"Don't forget, I was very young when I first became a manager with Rangers. I think I am a better manager now but, of course, only time will tell. I want to make Southampton a place to be feared, a place where teams will feel uncomfortable. It took me only five minutes in Lawrie's company to convince me about taking the job. He is passionate about the game, and so am I."

McMenemy said: "We are delighted to have someone of Graeme's calibre at the club. He was our first choice. He is someone who will have the respect of both the public and the players. The senior players report back on Monday, so the timing is right."

The Saints' chairman, Guy Askham, added: "We hope this appointment proves to the fans that Southampton are very keen to have a future in the Premiership and win things."

The first target for Souness in the transfer market is the defender David Holdsworth, who is moving from Watford for pounds 500,000. The Saints' new manager wasted no time moving for Holdsworth to replace another central defender, Richard Hall, who is joining West Ham.

Holdsworth, whose twin brother, Dean, plays for Wimbledon, was out of contract at Watford after turning down a new deal recently. The 27-year- old will travel to The Dell to complete the move today.

The Aston Villa manager, Brian Little, has confirmed his interest in signing the Sporting Lisbon right-back Nelson, who was left out of Portugal's Euro 96 squad. Little is keen to recruit a replacement for the long-term injury casualty Gary Charles, who will be out of action until next year with a broken ankle.

Villa are understood to be ready to pay pounds 1.5m for Nelson, who has two years remaining of his current contract. The Glasgow-born Villa defender Paul Browne has joined Raith Rovers, despite verbally agreeing a new two- year contract with the Coca-Cola Cup holders at the end of last season.

Sheffield Wednesday are keen on the Rotherham United goalkeeper, Matt Clarke.

Bowyer joins Leeds, page 31