Why ‘vicious’ Pogba ‘should listen’ to ‘hard-nosed’ Souness

Matt Stead
Graeme Souness Liverpool

Of course Graeme Souness is the ‘uncompromising’ legend and the ‘vicious’ Paul Pogba ‘should listen’. Sounds about right.

No, they’re saying ‘Boo-ness, boo-ness’
For the sensible among you who did not peruse Tuesday’s Mediawatch, here is a tl;dr version:

Paul Pogba, a 27-year-old Frenchman, admitted in a podcast released on Monday that he did not know who Graeme Souness, a 66-year-old Scot, was. He was playfully goaded into some sort of reaction against his most critical pundit, but said only that he “heard he was a great player” and while he does not listen to punditry, “that’s their job”.

A reminder that Souness was Rangers manager, two years retired from playing, when Pogba was born.

Souness was mischievously asked on Tuesday for a response to those “below the belt” comments by Jamie Carragher, who has since said the Pogba quotes were ‘harmless’ and that he was having ‘a joke’.

Souness replied by asking the World Cup winner to “put your medals on the table”, and the entire universe collectively prayed for actual football to return soon.

Somehow, this story has carried over into Wednesday, with the Daily Mirror, Daily Star and Daily Express – all part of the same Reach plc family – giving it a back-page slot.

‘SOU ARE YA?’ screams the Mirror, whose headline in the paper itself becomes ‘POG BITES BACK’, followed by a sub-headline of ‘IT’S GRAEME WHONESS?’.

That’s a shame.

The Express alter it just enough, asking ‘SOU ARE YOU?’ because ‘Pogba hits out at Kop legend as feud turns toxic’.

Their rivalry has apparently ‘turned ugly’. Again, Pogba’s alleged crime was to not be aware of a player who captained a foreign club to European Cup glory when he was minus nine. Everyone at the Express presumably knows off by heart that Robert Prosinecki was Red Star Belgrade skipper when they beat Marseille in the 1991 final. And that it was not him at all but actually Stevan Stojanovic. Mediawatch itself definitely didn’t have to Google that.

Then there’s the Star, who go back to ‘SOU ARE YA?’ as ‘vicious Pog bites back’.

The most ridiculous thing? The Sun The Sun – bury the story seven pages in and reject the narrative of Pogba engaging in this ‘feud’ by questioning Souness and his ‘bizarre taunt’.

When they can’t be arsed enough to manufacture drama and controversy, you know there is none.


Graeme crackers
The Daily Mail thankfully steer clear of the situation. The MailOnline do not.

‘Liverpool legend Graeme Souness packs a punch in the TV studio and left no prisoners on the pitch. So he has every right to tell under-performing Paul Pogba to ‘put your medals on the table’ after a great career’ is their unmistakably snappy headline which promises to let us know why a sexagenarian was justified in telling the world how big his table is.

Souness is apparently vindicated because ‘there are few in the football world who can back up what they say with hard-nosed evidenced [sic] of their own achievements’. Does that really qualify constant one-note criticism of the same player? And does this ‘hard-nosed evidenced’ include signing Ali Dia?

That he was ‘uncompromising’ when trying to dismember Iosif Rotariu in 1988 hardly seems to matter when he is digging out a player’s haircut more than three decades later. And while ‘he was a silky passer of the ball and a commanding authority in midfield’, that can often mean little. Pele was quite good and he once named El-Hadji Diouf as one of the world’s greatest living players.

Of course Souness ‘has every right’ to air his opinion. Literally no-one has debated that. It would be as true if he was a reserve for Livingston rather than a captain of Liverpool; if he was a bad player instead of a brilliant one.

But ‘when someone like Souness tells you to ‘put your medals on the table’, then you should listen’? Why? Pogba didn’t challenge him and has nothing to prove. Let’s all just move on.


What is it good for? Absolutely nothing
Writes Mike Keegan on the Daily Mail back page:

‘Premier League and Championship clubs could sign a historic truce which would stop them poaching players from each other in the event that the wage cuts situation turns into a war.

‘Sources have disclosed that a peace treaty is among a number of measures being discussed by various executives…’

Only in the newspaper sphere could transfers be equated to literal warfare.


Worst hyphen of the day
‘MANCHESTER UNITED secretly sent scouts to watch Saul Niguez as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer weighs-up a £70million offer for the Atletico Madrid star’ – The Sun.



In second place…
‘How Newcastle could line-up with £300m takeover investment including £50m Boubakary Soumare… and Joelinton replacement’ – The Sun.



Quillo metre
Our favourite part of the ‘How x team could line up’ genre will forever be the random players that somehow survive widespread transfer changes.

This is a wonderful case in point. The Sun are probably right that Newcastle would replace Joelinton and, in fact, their entire midfield and attack aside from Allan Saint-Maximin, if they had £300m to spare.

But would they really not sign a single defender? Sorry, Danny Rose would join on a permanent deal. To play alongside Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles and…Javier Manquillo?!

Four players that have played together twice are definitely going to be Newcastle’s starting defence after transformative levels of investment.


Last warning
‘Premier League clubs are warning their players they will not be able to afford to spend big this summer’ – Daily Mirror.

How will they cope with being told they won’t be directly replaced by new signings?


The F365 Show is on hiatus until the football returns. Subscribe now ready for its glorious comeback. In the meantime, listen to the latest episode of Planet Football’s 2000s podcast, The Broken Metatarsal.