Is Souness Telling The Truth ?
Thursday, 30th Apr 2020 13:36
Graeme Souness has been speaking this week about Ali Dia and how he had no choice but to play him, but is he telling the truth here. ?
We all know the story of how Graeme Souness came to play Ali Dia and now he is claiming that he really had no choice, but lets take a look at what he said and if it is true.
Souness told Sky Sports this.
"It's a great story, and it's a funny story. It's not quite what you read or hear,"
"Someone got a call at the football club... George Weah's cousin or nephew was in England and looking to join a club. He wanted a trial. Matt will know at that time, we had such a small squad, and we had trialists in all the time.
"In fact, that's how we got Eyal Berkovic in... he came for a week in pre-season and we ended up signing him. He ended up being a fabulous player first at Southampton. So this guy turns up, and anyone who's been involved in football, you know in the first five minutes of a game - even if it's a small five-a-side - if the boy can play or not.
"So, within the first five minutes on a Monday morning, we said he wasn't for us. He was hopeless. But we didn't have enough players to have an eight-a-side. So we kept him for a week, and as the week went on, we had more and more players that got injured.
"We were playing Leeds United on the Saturday, and Matt was our only fit forward. It's all Matt's fault because he only lasts for about 20 minutes! I was looking at the bench thinking, 'what could we do?'
"We had a centre-half, a right-back, and a left-back. Terry Cooper (Southampton's chief European scout) had told me in the week 'you're going to have that fool on the bench' as we didn't have any other striker. So we ended up putting him on the bench and the worst-case scenario would be that he would come on, run around, and be a pest.
"When Matt got injured, he came off and this guy came on. He was everywhere the ball had just been. It was as if he'd never been on a football pitch before. The story goes that we were kidded and conned by people, but that's not true.
"We made the decision on him within the first five minutes, but it's a good story. It's all Matt's fault for getting injured."
So that's Souness's version of event's and that is all very plausible, until we look at what other options he had.
Dia came on after 32 minutes for Le Tissier, if he was so bad then why did Souness not use one of the other substitutes, he could have used Robbie Slater wo was the natural replacement for Le Tissier, he could have used Neil Maddison who was unused on the day, it would have meant a reshuffle but it could have been done.
He could have brought Ken Monkou on as he did in the closing minutes and moved someone out of defence into midfield, he had options of 3 other experienced players on the bench, where they all too injured to come on ?
His other option would have been to use a youth team player, if Dia was as bad as he claims he knew, then surely one of the reserve team kids would have been better, a look at the record books shows we had no game that day, so he had a full reserve team squad to choose from, perhaps they were not experienced, but then again nor was Dia and the likes of Steve Basham & Russell Watkinson whom Souness had already used as subs that season or Shane Bradley, Duncan Spedding & Phil Warner all of whom were on the fringes of the squad played for the reserves four days later, he had five options for the bench there he could have used
All of those five at least had a clue and had been training a lot longer at professional level than Dia, if Souness could spot a wrong un after only 5 minutes then he knew that these five offered a better option, he used Basham another 5 times after this.
Thirdly he could have brought in a loan signing, the transfer window was not in place back then, so there were plenty of options available in the market place, perhaps not Premier League quality but certainly at least the division below.
So overall there is something very strange about the fact that Souness put Ali Dia on the bench and something even stranger that he brought him on so early in the game with other options on the bench.
I cannot possibly think of any reason why at least not one that would not potentially be libellous, so the only conclusion is that Souness is now covering his tracks, that although he might not have thought Dia to be quality in the long term, he thought he might have some sort of shock value with a bit of pace.
In conclusion I also have to ask why Souness needs to bring it up now, it s nowhere near the anniversary of the game and it was almost 24 years ago so hardly a hot topic.
Why does he feel the need to drag it up again and defend himself, in essence he has said nothing that he hasn't trotted out before in the last quarter of a century.
Photo: Action Images
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