The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In this respect football – were it to take human form – would be a dribbling mess constrained in a straightjacket.
This was proven once more on Monday with the announcement that Peter Ridsdale – a man with the birthmark of a foreclosure sign on his scalp – was allowed to once again take charge of a football club and no doubt steer it towards financial meltdown.
Ridsdale’s C.V. reads more like a rap-sheet and how he continually finds employment within the game is as baffling a phenomenon as the popularity of Chris Moyles. But he is not alone in being rewarded for persistent failure and once the news had sunk in and due sympathy was sent in the direction of Preston discussions in the Cutter office soon turned to other repeat offenders.
The name we kept coming back to was Graeme Souness. Though the tough-tackling Scot won a room full of silverware in a long, impressive playing career as a manager he was consistently dire. From deconstructing decades of Anfield dominance – his disastrous three years there can be summarized in six words….from Ian Rush to Paul Stewart – to failed stints at Torino, Southampton, Benfica, Blackburn and lastly Newcastle Souness was a reliable dud, hopefully out of the depth tactically and a wheeler-dealer of tat in the transfer market. In Portugal he stubbornly refused to sign a young Deco and instead plumped for Mark Pembridge while at the Dell he was duped into playing a non-entity who falsely claimed to be George Weah’s cousin (see Noel Draper’s hilarious account of this on page two of today’s Cutter).
Every facet of his personality that made him such an imperious player ensured he was a spectacular failure in the dug-out – his arrogance at giving an exclusive interview to The Sun on the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy still defies belief to this day – and it seemed that his only talent was in being an anti-Midas; everything he touched turned to shit.
So where is this doyen of dirgeful football residing now? Hiding in shame behind his ‘tache in some Southport mansion? No, of course not.
This is best exemplified at Newcastle where all and sundry agreed that the club required a top-notch striker to take them to the next level. Souness went out and procured Michael Owen from Real Madrid. Here was as reliable a goal-machine as we have seen in recent years who was chomping at the bit to return to Blighty and resume with his persecution of Premier League keepers all while being paired with his England partner Shearer. What could possibly go wrong? As we now know Owen’s time in the North-East was the beginning of the end for his tiny-terror reign and you can’t help but think that Souness was at least partly responsible due to his track record of signing forwards being at best misguided, at worst outright cursed. For the very same club he brought over prized flop Albert Luque (for ten million) while at Blackburn Souness splurged a fortune on the infamously goal-shy Corrado Grabbi. This is in addition to Nigel Clough at Liverpool suffering a similar fate to Owen in seemingly losing all of his talent overnight and somehow thinking Brian Deane could set Benfica’s Stadium of Light ablaze.
All told there is sufficient evidence to surmise that Graeme James Souness is the worst British club manager of the recent age which is some claim when you consider he is up against Bryan Robson, Christian Gross and Avram Grant. Overall his success rate during twenty years as a boss amounted to a measly 46%. That means he wasn’t even half-good!
So why did he remain a stranger to JobCentrePlus? In a word desperation. At his first port of call in Glasgow Souness ruthlessly over-saw a revolution at Ibrox that brought three titles at the expense of their arch-foes Celtic. If you achieve success in football – or even show promise – you will invariably be given numerous chances to replicate it elsewhere by clubs desperate even for a whiff of it before people eventually, reluctantly, accept it was a one-off fluke. It is why clubs are still signing Francis Jeffers to this day.
So where is this doyen of dirgeful football residing now? Hiding in shame behind his ‘tache in some Southport mansion? No, of course not. He sits in a Sky studio preaching to millions under the guise of being an ‘expert’.
Football isn’t just a funny old game. It can be downright baffling at times.