Graeme Souness vs Paul Pogba. A battle that has been ongoing since the French international returned to Manchester United in 2016. Pundit vs player. A legendary midfielder vs one that has potential to be one. The old-school hard man vs the modern day commercially aware professional. You can see why one doesn’t see eye to eye with the other. But after today’s latest on this clash, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
“I didn’t even know who he was, really. I heard he was a great player and stuff like that.”Pogba on Graeme Souness
The former Scotland captain has been Pogba’s biggest critic in the mainstream media. From calling him out for being selfish and only caring about his transfer value to criticising him for dancing at his brother’s wedding. It’s clear as day that Souness doesn’t like the midfielder and is bizarrely bothered by everything he does, on or off the pitch. The World Cup winner has remained quiet on the entire situation, until yesterday.
Graeme Souness – The medals
When the former Juventus midfielder was asked about the Sky Sports pundit’s criticism of him on the Manchester United podcast, he replied saying he didn’t know who he was, but heard he was a great player. As expected, this was brought up on Sky Sports earlier today and Souness fired back telling Pogba to put his medals on the table.
Some people online have been quick to say this disrespectful on Pogba’s part. Out of context, perhaps it does considering Souness, by all accounts, had an exceptional career. But it’s strange to expect a French born 27 year old to know about a Scottish midfielder playing in England in the 1970s. He grew up watching the likes of Zinedine Zidane, not Graeme Souness. Yet again, the media insist on sensationalising it and stirring more drama. I really doubt he was trying to be rude, it seems like he genuinely didn’t know who Souness was. Be honest, if you hadn’t read the honours list on his Wikipedia page or heard him on Sky Sports, would you know who Graeme Souness was? Hardly likely.
The Liverpool legend was obviously eluding to his decorated trophy cabinet with the Reds. 5 First Division titles, 3 European Cups and several other domestic cups. No doubt, he’s won it all. But the Frenchman himself is a winner. 4 Serie A titles, 1 Europa League, several other domestic trophies and of course, a World Cup. The most coveted trophy in world football and the midfielder played an instrumental role in Les Bleus’ triumph. A reminder that he scored in the final, Graeme. Not bad for a player with a bad attitude.
Moreover, Pogba is 27 and coming into the prime of his career. Whether he moves to Real or remains at Old Trafford, I’m sure he will be adding to his silverware collection before he hangs up his boots. It also doesn’t help that he has joined United during their worst period in the Premier League era. Not like joining Liverpool in the late 1970s, where they ruled world football with a team full of world class players. Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen. Oh, and let’s not forget they had Bob Paisley as their manager.
Issues with Pogba or the modern footballer?
Trophies aside, Souness is of course a legend of the game and entitled to his opinion. But there’s a difference between giving constructive criticism about a player and having an agenda. Something that the 66 year old is rightfully mocked on social media for having against Pogba. It seems like every time United are playing poorly, he finds a way to blame their performance on their star player. Even when he isn’t playing or anywhere near the conversation! That’s what’s made the agenda crystal clear. The whole saga becomes an issue when he’s pushing his agenda on a mainstream platform as credible and influential as Sky Sports. It paints this false perception of the midfielder as lazy and uncommitted.
Paul Pogba is the embodiment of the modern footballer. No, I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. He’s aware of commercial opportunities in the digital age and how football is a multi-billion pound industry. Because of that, it means the Frenchman is often the poster boy for Adidas commercials, fashion and at the forefront of marketing campaigns. La Pioche is creating a brand to maximise his income and is entitled to do that. To the older generation however, this creates an image of the 27 year old being flashy, solely commercially driven and unprofessional, which is clearly not the case.
The only possible way I can defend Graeme Souness for his ‘agenda’ is that his comments towards Pogba are criticisms of modern football rather than the player personally. As one of the most famous footballers in the world playing for one of the biggest clubs, he’s an easy target.
Perhaps it’s jealously over the opportunities, income and general attention footballers get which are a world away from the former Rangers midfielder’s era. Or just general disappointment about how the game’s evolved. Hard men like Souness or Roy Keane, who coincidentally also has a problem with Pogba, are harder to find now. So when he takes his anger out on the Europa League winner, maybe he’s directing it towards the average modern footballer? Even then, it’s a stretch considering how many Premier League players are doing the same and not getting anywhere near as much stick. I don’t see Jesse Lingard getting slated for not scoring or assisting in the whole of 2019.
Why Graeme Souness is just bitter
Or it’s just a bitter insecure 66 year old trying to stir controversy and remain relevant. In this article HERE, Souness thinks it would be a doddle to play against Pogba. Two different eras, different demands for footballers, different roles, different teams. Granted, the former Scottish international might have been tougher than the World Cup winner, more aggressive and better defensively. But Pogba would school Souness going forward and is technically superior. Naive comment, just because he made a career from breaking people’s jaws and starting fights. As the full package, the French international is leagues above in my opinion.
The issue is, as soon as Pogba has had his say on Souness for the first time, it sparks chaos online. Whenever he says something, it becomes a headline and often sparks a debate. Often manipulated and twisted to make Pogba look like the villain. You could say that’s down to how famous he is in the sport and the public eye. Or just because again, he’s an easy target for being a bit more ‘out-there’ and commercial than traditional footballers.
The unhealthy obsession with Paul Pogba is just bizarre and in bad taste. Granted, it’s hilarious seeing the mockery of Graeme Souness on Twitter. We’ve all seen the ‘Paul Pogba has got to be doing better’ meme. But having a go at a player for his haircuts, dancing and generally enjoying his life off the pitch is crossing the line. I hope some sense comes to the Liverpool legend soon, because the 27 year old isn’t as bad as he thinks…
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