08 June 2013

Chuck, Souey and Charlotte

by Alan Clark | Assignments Editor

Leaked audio recordings of a meeting between Charles Green and Craig Whyte have revealed Graeme Souness was wanted by Green as a Director of Football to assist Ally McCoist last May.

The conversation, yet another one secretly recorded by Whyte, is from early May 2012 and like most of the material from Charlotte Fakes it is pre-CVA. The reports of Green trying to get "Souey" as DoF are not new but this would appear to be the first time the public have officially heard it.

The Charlotte recordings and documents released on Soundcloud and Scribd - via the Twitter account – leaves Rangers supporters free to interpret and debate what they actually mean. So far, despite building them up to be dynamite, the leaks have only been intriguing in that it gives a look into private meetings and documents that we wouldn’t normally see (hear in this case).

Whoever he or she is, the motives are clearly not to the benefit of Rangers. It only takes a quick glance on the Twitter timeline to see that the person is evidently not a friend of the Ibrox faithful. The tapes/documents do however give an interesting insight into some meetings between people like Craig Whyte, Charles Green and Duff & Phelps.

In this latest leak, Green waxes lyrical about how much he thinks Souness would be great as a Director of Football at Ibrox. He mentions that Souness could handle the media side and the fans would instantly love him. He remarks that it would save the need for McCoist to be knocking on his (Green’s) door asking to sign a player, presumably inferring that Souness would handle that.

54-times capped for Scotland and European Cup winner three times with Liverpool; Souness has a huge pedigree in British and European football and of course had a successful stint at Rangers as player-manager.

His tenacious nature on and off the park in his time at Ibrox, along with being the focal point of attracting top English players to the club in the late eighties which kick-started the legendary nine-in-a-row period, means he is considered a Rangers legend by many. The era was labelled the 'Souness Revolution' and supporters look back on it fondly.

Me and Souness
I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Souness just last Saturday, as I was covering Tynecastle Football Club’s 85th anniversary at Tynecastle Stadium for Grassroots News. When I asked for his reaction to the appointment of Walter Smith as chairman at the Gers, he told me:

“Now Rangers definitely have someone in charge who is there for the right reasons. It’s not for him to go and earn money out of anything; it’s about him directing Rangers in the right direction. He’s Mr Rangers, he's done everything there and I think if you’re a Rangers supporter, you should be delighted with that.”

To a man, the Rangers supporters are delighted with the installation of Smith as chairman. He will bring some stability, we all hope, to a very damaging boardroom struggle at the club. It is no surprise that Souness is also evidently happy with Smith's new 'daddy' role in the Blue Room.

The two are alike in some ways - both know what it's all about at Rangers and what is required of every piece of the staff jigsaw. Green's idea of bringing Souness in as DoF sounds perfect when you first consider the idea. But would it have worked?

The DoF role in football is one that is rather popular on the continent but has never kicked off properly in  British football, nor has it worked at Rangers. Dick Advocaat was moved upstairs after leaving as manager but quit the role three months in. Gordon Smith was hired by Whyte in June 2011 but left his post when administration came around.

No one is really sure of what a DoF should actually do. The obvious problems that can arise are problems with the relationship between the DoF and manager, as roles at the club can overlap. Some see the DoF role as making the manager's position redundant - rendering them effectively a better paid first-team coach.

For a DoF scenario to work properly, he would have to have a perfect relationship with the manager. Egos would have to be deflated and reputations forgotten about. Would Souness and McCoist be able to work together without trodding on each other's toes?

Personally, I think a Director of Football arrangement would not work, and a character like Souness would more than likely clash with any type of manager, never mind someone like McCoist who wears the Rangers badge on his sleeve. Who knows if McCoist would feel threatened or undermined by Souness?

There are many questions marks hovering over McCoist's managerial capabilities and they will be answered over time. A DoF meddling in his affairs wouldn't give him a fair crack of the whip in being a Rangers manager. Less a fiesty-type of man like Souness.

We don't know the reasons as to why Souness coming back to Rangers as Director of Football didn't happen in the end. Perhaps Green discussed it with him at length but only in the event of a successful CVA? You couldn't blame Souness for turning down a Third Division DoF role.

Maybe it just came down to the fact that Souness is really content with his media duties at present. The 60-year-old works for Sky Sports, Al-Jazeera Sports, RTE and ESPN - it could easily have been the fact that Souness didn't fancy the stress and pressure again that he had to endure from his managerial exploits in years gone by at various high-profile clubs.

When asked at Tynecastle if he had any plans to return to football management, he said: "None. None at all. The press is easier. I don't have to deal with players every day. It is a difficult job, managing. The players are independent because of the money they earn and it makes some of them difficult to deal with.

"I'll stick to television, sleep well and wake up on a Monday morning without any headaches."

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