Granit Xhaka has come in for a lot of criticism this season, and a good portion of it has been deserved. However, some of it has crossed the line and come from those that should maybe think before they speak.
The Swiss midfielder was partially responsible for Paul Pogba’s opening goal in the 16th minute. His attempted challenge on Pogba was unsuccessful. Instead of getting up and tracking back he stood and watched as the Frenchman scored on a deflected shot.
During the break Souness launched in to a diatribe about Xhaka and the team as a whole. Here’s just some of what he said:
This is a classic case of the central midfield player not doing his job properly. He goes to ground and this is ‘Look at me, I’m working hard and trying to be aggressive.
He then stands and watches, allows Pogba to end up free in the box and he has the simple job of rolling it into the back of the net. What he should do is come across, body check Pogba and risk taking a yellow card.
But this is what you do not do, it’s almost as though he thinks Pogba is lining up to shoot and he’s going to get a block in. What is that? That is pretend football, that is what you see on a park from Under 12s.
This outburst from Souness came a week after he trashed outgoing manager Arsene Wenger in a column for The Times.
There’s a scene in the movie Animal House where the villianous Douglas Niedermeyer verbally abuses Delta House pledge Flounder during ROTC training. In response the characters Boon and Otter deliver the famous lines, “He can’t do that to our pledges, only we can do that to our pledges”.
That appears to be how a lot of Arsenal fans are reacting to Souness and his scathing words.
It’s no secret that many of the Gunners’ faithful have been very critical of the manager and team over the past decade. So it was interesting to see that when someone outside of the Arsenal family attacks, the fans fight back. Here are just a few examples from Twitter:
Graeme Souness on Sky: "Arsenal in recent years have not come anywhere near Man United"— Chris (@TheArsenalChris) April 29, 2018
Arsenal have finished above Man United in the Premier League for the last 4 years in-a-row, winning 3 trophies and spending half a billion less in that time
Graeme Souness hates Arsenal almost as much as I hate Graeme Souness.— Matthew Cooper (@c00perM) April 29, 2018
Graeme souness should STFU, dude has to get a life, constant criticism of Granit Xhaka, make him the scapegoat.— Ashish Mane (@AshishAFC) April 30, 2018
Souness is an idiot that loves this kind of exaggeration. He systematically does this every time with many teams/players. I choose to ignore him. I will never read what he said and if on tv I mute him.— mesg (@mesitisg) April 30, 2018
Three months of solid performances week in week out and he makes one mistake and has a rant about him? Souness only does it to be relevant and get talking points. Either that or he’s just an idiot— C (@Xhakology) April 30, 2018
Souness became a pundit after his playing and managerial days ended. The Scotsman had an impressive career as a player. As a manager, however, it was a different story. All you have to do is Google “worst managers” and up pops this one from the Guardian in May 2008: The 10 Worst Football Managers. Coming in at number one is Graeme Souness.