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GRAEME SOUNESS: Players are too molly-coddled and get away scot-free!

GRAEME SOUNESS: Players are far too pushy these days and get off scot-free as they are rarely fingered… the likes of Jack Grealish need to ACT with the criticism that comes their way!

  • Jack Grealish should expect criticism as there are many expectations for him
  • I have the right to express an opinion, but the modern player does not accept criticism
  • Grealish might not think it’s worth listening to, but I’ve been in his shoes
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I seem to have caused Jack Grealish offense by saying that I think he is a good player but not a great player, based on what I have seen in his first year or so at a big Premier League club.

I think Grealish has an ability that very few people possess. He is a technically excellent player who runs with the ball and gets you on the edge of your seat.

I also have to say that if I met him I’m sure I’d like him and want to have a night out with him, although I’m not so sure I could keep up!

Manchester City star Jack Grealish has taken offense at Graeme Souness comments in the media
Manchester City star Jack Grealish has taken offense at Graeme Souness comments in the media

Manchester City star Jack Grealish has taken offense at Graeme Souness comments in the media

But football is not just about dribbling past one player, dribbling past another player and then giving the ball away when trying to tackle the third.

It’s about seeing the picture — the right picture — on the field. It’s about delivering the right delivery. Quickly. To move the ball forward. Quickly. Do this relentlessly, week after week after week.

And then on top of that the hard yards without the ball, which Manchester City do better than anyone at the moment. That’s what all the big players do.

I have been in this game for over 50 years and I think I am entitled to express an opinion on these matters, but the modern player does not take criticism well.

Souness feels he is entitled to an opinion after being involved in football for 50 years
Souness feels he is entitled to an opinion after being involved in football for 50 years

Souness feels he is entitled to an opinion after being involved in football for 50 years

The criticism goes all one way now – with the coach and manager getting it for his tactics, his team selection, for his substitutions and anything else you want to name, while the players get away with it most of the time. Fingers are rarely pointed at them.

Grealish, like me, moved to a big side for a record transfer fee between two English clubs, so I think I know something about that experience. When new players arrived at Liverpool they found Ronnie Moran, as black and white a footballer as I have ever met in the game, and he delivered a message that was brutally blunt.

‘We told you once. We’ve told you twice. We won’t tell you again. If the money doesn’t drop now, son, you’re not a Liverpool player and you won’t be here for very long.’

There was no molly-codling. The equation was very simple: either you had the mentality to play for a big club or you were off.

Souness admits the England international may not think his opinion is worth listening to
Souness admits the England international may not think his opinion is worth listening to

Souness admits the England international may not think his opinion is worth listening to

For me it was about adapting to players at Liverpool who thought faster and played the ball faster. If you do this consistently, your touch and control of the ball will improve.

That’s how I improved every day. No one sat me down to talk me through it. There was no watershed moment with Bob Paisley, Jock Stein, Joe Fagan or Moran, and although I don’t ever recall it being spoken of negatively, it would have been like a piece of fluff to me.

Grealish has to pick and choose who he listens to. He may think that my opinion is not worth listening to. I can certainly live with that. The only one who matters is his manager.

He has said, in response to my comments, that Pep Guardiola is asking him to keep the ball and not move it forward quickly. Well, forgive me for stating the obvious, but I would argue that you are in a football game to score goals.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola tells Grealish to keep the ball and not move it quickly
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola tells Grealish to keep the ball and not move it quickly

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola tells Grealish to keep the ball and not move it quickly

There is no point in having lots of touches outside the box and showing how nice you are outside the box. It’s not about showing how smart you are in large areas or pirouettes in the middle of the park.

It’s about getting the ball to the guys up front, quickly and accurately, because they’re the ones who need time.

There are very obvious advantages that come with a big move in football. A lifestyle beyond your wildest dreams. Glamor you could never imagine, playing for a huge club.

The downsides, if you want to call them that, are the pressure and the control and the need to be afraid of it – all the time.

These are not disadvantages at all if you are a decent player because you know the deal and what people say will not affect you. But if you transfer for a large fee that way, there is an expectation. To Grealish I would say: ‘Live with it. Deal with it.’

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