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If Souness is wrong let him be rejected for the right reasons

By Tommy Conlon

Sunday November 11 2007

There may be good reasons why Graeme Souness should not become the next

manager of the Ireland soccer team -- the fact that he managed and

played for (Glasgow) Rangers is not one of them.

And under no circumstances should the Irish bigots in the Celtic FC fan

club be allowed to set the agenda on this issue. Which is why it was a

bit presumptuous, at best, for RTE's Darragh Maloney to question him on

it during their Premiership highlights programme last Saturday night.

In fairness to Maloney the Celtic/Rangers rivalry is an ingrained part

of this country's sporting culture and he may have just assumed that it

was therefore reasonable to address the matter with Souness.

But the Liverpool/Manchester United rivalry is also part -- and a much

bigger part -- of the culture here too and we doubt if Maloney or any

other pundit would question the appointment of, say, a former Liverpool

player or manager on the basis that it might antagonise Ireland's legion

of Man U fans. The question wouldn't have to be asked because it

wouldn't be an issue.

Why therefore should an exception be made for Celtic fans? There is a

history of Celtic supporters at international games barracking visiting

players who happen to play their club football for Rangers. The very

fact that Maloney even asked Souness about this issue could be seen as

legitimising their prejudices.

Earlier on Saturday evening a Celtic supporter contacted Today FM's

Premier League phone-in show to vent his hostility towards the Souness

candidacy. Celtic fans around the country would not be one bit happy if

Souness got the job, he said. The show's host, Michael McMullan, could

barely conceal his bewilderment with such a backward mentality. But the

caller, inevitably, was immune to rational arguments, not the least of

which was that Souness had left Rangers some 15 years ago (he was

player-manager between 1986 and '91).

Nevertheless Souness was still obliged to account on RTE for that

unfortunate period in his life when he happened to win three league

titles in his first management job. And when, in passing, he also

happened to sign the first black player to actually line out for Rangers

(Mark Walters), and the first Catholic player -- albeit that it was the

former Celtic forward Maurice Johnston. And when he broke the club's

bigoted heritage by making it clear that colour or denomination would no

longer be an issue in the signing of a player.

In those years he was still togging out and if anything the tribal

nature of Scottish football seemed to bring the worst out of his

famously volatile temperament, putting his boot through televisions when

he wasn't putting his boot through some unfortunate opponent on the

field. Sometimes it was comical, more often it was shocking. It wouldn't

be overstating it to say that he was hated on the Celtic side of the

Glasgow ghetto.

So, he conceded to Maloney, "I'm aware that I'm a bit of an outsider,

not Irish, and one or two things I've done in the past might not go down

so well with certain people . . . It's certainly not a stumbling block

for me (but) if it was an issue for too many people then it wouldn't be

a job I'd want. I've only been interested in what people can do on a

football pitch, not in what religion they were, or colour they were . .

. Football is what you should be judged on and nothing else."

By "certain people" he meant, of course, Celtic supporters. But just

because he got up their noses, in a previous life, doesn't mean he

should assume that every Irish fan would have a problem with his

appointment -- at least not a problem with the fact that he was once of

Rangers.

But in fairness to football bigots of all persuasions, perhaps Souness

should also be asked to account for his combustible season at

Galatasaray -- on behalf of all Irish citizens of Turkish origin who may

support Galatasaray's bitter rivals Fenerbahce. In one of his nuttier

moments Souness nearly sparked a riot in 1996 when he planted the

Galatasaray flag in the middle of the Fenerbahce pitch having just

beaten them in the Turkish cup final. This iconic act earned him the

nickname 'Ulabatli' Souness, after the Turkish martyr Ulabatli Hasan who

was killed planting the Ottoman flag at the battle of Constantinople in

1453. (And they say the Irish have long memories.)

The next time therefore that Souness is quizzed about his past

allegiances he should be asked, in the interests of parity of prejudice,

not to mention our old friend multiculturalism, if his putative

appointment to the Ireland job would not give offence to all local

Fenerbahce fans too.

Souness's old mucker at Liverpool, Ronnie Whelan, was in the Today FM

studio last Saturday evening. "Souey," he said, was the best footballer

he'd ever played alongside. But Whelan didn't see him as the right man

for Ireland on the basis of lack of managerial experience. Given that

Souness has also managed four clubs in England and another in Portugal

we feel that Ronnie had other reasons, which he wasn't sharing, as to

why his mate shouldn't get the job.

The main one being perhaps that he hasn't been very successful. But

there are no guarantees with any candidate anyway. Souness would at

least be interesting. And if it were to upset some of the Celtic idiots

who have disfigured the atmosphere at previous internationals, it

shouldn't perturb the FAI too badly either.

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Isn't it also true that Jackie Charlton was a protestant and yet actualyl being a protestant seems to have been acceptable to these morons but being an ex Rangers manager who married a catholic is beyond the pale.

Also the thing about the glag in the Galatasary Fenerbahce game - I could be wrong but I am pretty sure that was a reaction to the fact he had not long had a triple heart bypass operation and there were loads of Fenerbahce fanzines, flags and banners saying things like 'You should have died on the operating table'

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Personally I rather have a Irish man managing Ireland , but there's not too many about , Martin O'neil is probably the best around at the moment. I think the English lads feel the same about the England job. Its nice to have a manager from your own country ( if possible ) managing the national team .

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Agreed Liamski, so heres the options .

Liam Brady , i'd like him to get it for a reason , if he failed he'd look a bigger c**t than he already is .

Don Givens , nice man , gave a lot to the Rep of Ireland as a player but too lightweight.

Martin O Neil . Well the Shinners would love him wouldn't they .

The Celtic fans would rejoice and houses would be painted green again . If he failed , he would still be elected as the new pope .

Personally i hope he dosent get it , not because i dislike him or wish us more bad results , i just hate all the RA crap that goes with it and every scum bag Celtic fan will be in the pubs and at the games.

Roy Keane . Again , the Manyooooooo brigade will be singing to the rafters and every scummy Manyoooooooo fan will be in your face.

Ronnie Whelan , well , need i explain that one ?

John Aldridge .........See above .

David O Leary ....Well its a Leeds thing you see .

So im voting for either Paddy Mulligan , John Dempsey , John Coady or Andy Townsend . icon_lol.gif

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Sorry clubhappy but not all celtic fans are scum bags , some of my mates are celtic fans and would sit and cheer on chelsea , specially when we play manure or liverpool. We've actually move on a lot here in the North since all the crap of the 70s 80s and 90s. You'll have to come up some day and see for yourself, the changes are unbelievable you might even enjoy it 431.gif691.gif .

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