sport news MARTIN SAMUEL: Graeme Souness was not insulting the women's game trends now
It’s a man’s game. You’ve heard it said. You know what it means. It’s not literally true, any more, and the majority are rightly delighted by that.
But the phrase remains. It’s not an insult, it’s not a slight, it’s the language of football. Archaic, to some ears, and maybe over time that will change. But there are generations after generations of men — and women, too — who know exactly what is meant by a man’s game.
And Graeme Souness is one of them. He’s 69, but doesn’t look it. He’s been around the block. He can interpret modern football for what it is, but he also knows what it was. It was a man’s game, back then. It was hard, it was brutal.
Graeme Souness claimed it was a 'man's game' after Chelsea played Tottenham on Sunday
A young John Hollins got his leg snapped in two playing for Chelsea at Everton. A team-mate remonstrated with the culprit. ‘What did you do that for? He’s a good kid, he’s a lovely kid.’
‘I know,’ said Hollins’ assailant. ‘I’ve heard. That’s why I only gave him half of it.’ It was a man’s game; and it was horrid, at times.
And that’s why people enjoy Souness’ analysis, because he tells it like it is, and he played it like it was. And anyone who saw Souness play will have seen a lot of man’s games.
They will also have recognised his instinctive reaction to Tottenham and Chelsea, their players and managers, going at it hammer and tongs, on the field, and on the touchline.
‘I think we’ve got our football back, as I would enjoy football,’ he said. ‘Men at it. You know, blow for blow, and the referee letting them get on with it.’ He was following on from Jamie Carragher who spoke about the steel that Antonio Conte has brought to Tottenham. Real man’s game stuff. He’s bought big players, physical players, Tottenham have a bit about them now. They used to get blown away. Sir Alex Ferguson once gave a team talk at Manchester United that consisted of three words: ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham.’ He wouldn’t say that now. Tottenham are up for a fight.
Souness' comment upset some fans online, particularly as he was sat next to Karen Carney