You may have noticed that Scouse-baiting is a particular hobby of mine. It’s what draws us into this game in reality. It has been immensely fun to watch as the poor little Liverpool fanbase has squirmed for the best part of two decades while they were knocked comprehensively off their perch. Right now I also accept it must be equally amusing for them to watch the shitstorm at Old Trafford. All’s fair in love and war, right?
Jimmy Carr once observed about the enmity between Mancs and Scousers with his usual dryness. “Mancs call Scousers idiots, and Scousers call Mancs idiots. When are they both going to learn?” Ha ha, Jimmy. Touche.
There has always been a special kind of relationship between the two. Manchester City have tried to wheedle their way in since fraudulently stockpiling Abu Dhabi wealth. It will never quite be the same, to be honest for United fans, but bless them for trying. In recent years, the battlefield has spread to the Scouse-infected media.
Enter Graeme Souness. This is the man who hit a glorious pre-meditated 70-yard ball to his ‘keeper when backpasses could still be handled. He has the sophistication of a toilet brush, which is ironically what his hair looked like as a player.
Paul Pogba has been in Souness’ crosshairs since he returned to England. Not a specialist topic, admittedly, but the ferocity of his obsession in slaughtering the Frenchman is quite bizarre. I actually want Pogba to stay just to see the Scot froth uncontrollably: it makes for great TV, anyway.
On the one hand, I can see the genesis of his frustration. Here’s a man that is seemingly more driven by his own profile and brand than performing on the pitch. No complaints there. One of the most cringe-worthy moments in recent memory was when Pogba’s own personal emoji took over the Old Trafford electronic advertising boards. It was unquestionably ridiculous.
Souness hails from a different era. When men were real men, apparently – whatever the fuck that means. Get yer foot in lad. Alright ‘Souey,’ you do that. His first problem is that he hasn’t noticed that the game is different. I’m not quite saying emoji adverts should be welcomed with open arms.
However, to bluntly refuse to allow modern players their modern affectations is missing the point. If Pogba was delivering, Souness wouldn’t change his tune about the self-promotion malarkey, you can be sure.
The Pogba wormhole is not one we’re going to dive into today though. Now Soapbox regulars will know I am no fan of Jose Mourinho. Try writing or discussing anything about Manchester United without mentioning the Portuguese’s name. Go on, seriously. You see? Impossible. That alone is an irritant.
His recent reaction to receiving the predictable abuse from Juventus fans due to his Inter connections was comedy. Theatre, even. The furious reaction to Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea coach goading, and the three-finger salute to Stamford Bridge, were also in the same vein. How that is not painfully obvious is beyond me.
Look, at least with Mourinho you know what you’re getting. Arrogance, self-indulgence, egocentricity, drama. It’s all part of the game to him. When he cupped his ears having staged a brilliant tactical comeback, that was apparently too much for Souness. “He could have caused a riot,” spluttered the supposed pundit.
What happened next says all you need to know about the man. Mick McCarthy is a complete tool of epic proportions, even if he displayed a rare dose of sense on this occasion. So when you get put in your place by him, you know you’re not doing well.
“I have to say, I don’t think you and I can sit here pontificating over Jose Mourinho when you’ve stuck the flag in the middle of the pitch in Turkey, and I’ve had an over-exuberant celebration in front of the Norwich fans,” McCarthy said alongside him in the Sky Sports studio. “We’re the last ones who can be doing that, to be honest.”
Graeme, we get it, you’re a bitter Scouser who will use any excuse to have a dig. You’re far from the only one to do it, of course. Newly-appointed Mourinho critic-in-chief Paul Scholes was once again vocal, saying it “lacked class.” Maybe it did a little. Did it show class to plant the Galatasaray flag in the middle of Fenerbahce pitch? Erm, not exactly.
The cult of former pros earning airtime purely because of their paying experience is getting a bit nauseous. There are some excellent media professionals who get shunted out for angry soundbite merchants like Souness. On the other hand, it would be ever so slightly less fun if we didn’t have the prick to rile up. More emojis and ear-cupping, I say.