Carra Exclusive Interview - Souness responsible for Liverpool decline
Published 23:00 03/09/10 By David Maddock
Jamie Carragher claims Graeme Souness is to blame for Liverpool’s demise from dominant force to also rans.
The defender also says the club must regain the “dignity” and “class” which he believes has been lost in recent years.
But as Carragher prepares for his testimonial today against Everton to celebrate 15 seasons at the club, he admits he would love to spend time with Sir Alex Ferguson, the boss of bitter rivals Manchester United who infamously said his aim was to “knock Liverpool off their f****** perch.”
Carragher says: “What would I ask Ferguson? How long have you got, have you got all day? I’ll tell you what I’d say to him though – he never knocked Liverpool off their perch, that’s nonsense that.
“It was Graeme Souness who did that, it really was. United were competing with Norwich and Aston Villa for their first title – they weren’t competing with Liverpool, were they!”
In a single comment, you have the essence of Carragher. His respect for the achievements of Ferguson is massive and genuine, but his love of Liverpool is passionately obsessive.That is why he is such a rarity in today’s game.
After 636 appearances for Liverpool, he stands seventh in the club’s all-time list, and by the end of the season will almost certainly have become the second longest-serving Anfield player of all time.
Not bad for someone whose Everton allegiances meant he turned up as a kid at the Reds academy in a Blues shirt.
Carragher’s comments about Souness, boss from 1991-94 during which time they won the FA Cup, isn’t an indiscriminate attack on the former manager, but an observation that Liverpool have been the architects of their own downfall over the past two decades.
Nowhere has that been more obvious than in the past two seasons, when desperate mistakes were made, but Liverpool also lost the quality for which the club has always been famous... and that more than anything hurts Carragher deeply.
“I care about the club, because I’m a supporter as well as player. It does bother me if things aren’t just as they should be, just as it does Stevie (Gerrard),” he explained.
“I think about the future of the club, the direction it’s going in, the way it is run and how it is perceived from the outside. There are some things that Liverpool should be doing in a certain way, the correct way. We should be a little bit different, and we need to get back to that.
“I’m not just talking about winning games, but the way we do things and the way we conduct ourselves.
“The class and dignity this club was always renowned for. It’s the way Liverpool always used to be seen by people, and we should be aiming to recreate that.”
Carragher, in his usual, brutally honest style, has just delivered the most damning critique on the Benitez era at Anfield. There is no malice intended, merely his desire to see Liverpool respected for the right reasons.
“I just think that last year people didn’t like Liverpool. Other managers, you know, they hated us, the media, it was all negative. I know we weren’t doing well on the pitch, but I think it was just negative Liverpool all the time.
“We had situations like Martin O’Neill and Steve Bruce criticising Liverpool and they were right. We shouldn’t be getting involved with stuff like that. Everyone else should look at Liverpool and say they have dignity, it’s just class.
“I mean, the way people look at Arsenal. They do things right, and you go, yep, they conduct themselves in the right way.
“I think we have been a club who were like that, and we need to get back to that, to do things right. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, that’s football; you can’t win all the time. But you can still behave in a way where people respect you.
“We need people to look at Liverpool and think we have a bit of class about us, and I think we are getting back to that. I’m not getting into why we lost that, but we do need to get back to it.”