Sports Letters: Souness' influence

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Sir: It is many years now since a famous Everton manager was taken for a notorious taxi ride to oblivion. I hope that it will not be long before Liverpool's present manager experiences a similar fate. We Liverpool supporters have enjoyed too much success for too long to expect it as of right, or even to take it for granted. But we are appalled by Graham Souness's influence at the club.

Like many others, I rejoiced initially that Souness had the good luck to be the right person at the right time, after Kenny Dalglish's early retirement (even if we did mourn Alan Hansen's good sense to resist the lure of managerial life). The memory of Souness's swashbuckling talent in Liverpool's red and the number if not the style of his successes as Rangers' manager, blinded us to his ruthlessness as a player, his regular public disagreements with a tetchy intransigence, and his overwhelming ambition.

But mistakes have to be recognised, and, however costly, put right. After all, the pay-off to remove Souness would probably be little more than his loss for the club over his Dean Saunders investment. Liverpool should now dismiss a manager whose style in my view is combative, abrasive and strident. A manager who has ruffled more feathers than a poulterer; the handling of man- management and public relations with the indelicate touch of a bull in a china shop; inconsistent and eccentric team selection and substitutions; a discarding of those who do not fit into his muddled plans; an apparent inability ever to conceive that he could be wrong.

During his tenure there have been relatively poor results; more injuries than ever before; an apparent lack of team spirit; an atmosphere around the club which would be more appropriate in a morgue; a disillusioned staff; a board of directors reported to be dissatisfied; a sceptical press; and disenchanted supporters, even with another huge attendance on Saturday. For Souness 'fitting in' seems not to be an option - so why keep him?

Yours faithfully,

JOHNNY COHEN

Liverpool

11 January

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