Graeme Souness hates Paul Pogba. He hates him with so much intensity that it’s actually become a meme. Have you ever hated anything that much?
You get the impression though that half of the hatred is something like that of a cranky grandad yelling on his little Paulie from the sidelines, egging him on to higher levels. But did Souness ever actually reach these levels? Who has been the better player, Souness or Pogba?
Let’s compare them.
The Scotsman’s playing career has to start with talking about his time at Liverpool. He was there for 7 years, won 5 league championship and 3 European Cups. Playing under the legendary Bob Paisley, he was made clubs captain in 1981.
In 358 appearances he scored 56 goals for the club from midfield. He won 4 league cups there just for good measure too.
In 673 appearances he scored 92 goals. But Souness has always been about the tenacity, fury to win at all costs and refusal to back down from a fight, something which led him to many a confrontation in his career, with both team mates and adversaries.
He retired having played in Italy for Sampdoria alongside club legends Roberto Mancini and Gianluca Vialli, and Rangers, as player manager, where he was sent off on his debut after 34 minutes.
Pogba’s greatest moment undoubtedly came in the summer of 2018 when he won the World Cup with France. This followed on from his taking the runner up spot to Portugal in the 2016 European Championship. At club level, his greatest moments have all come in the black and white of Juventus. He won 4 league titles with the Old Lady as well as 2 cups and 2 super cups. In his second stint at Manchester United, Pogba has so far won only one Europa league and one EFL cup.
He’s scored 63 goals in 305 career games so far and under Solskjaer at United and in the current all star French squad it seems certain he’ll score many more.
So who’s better?
To answer this, you probably have to answer two questions. Would
Pogba have won 3 European Cups
In that Liverpool team and would Souness have taken home the World Cup playing with Kante and Mbappé?
That Liverpool side was particularly tough mentally. You look at the players, Phil Thompson, Alan Hansen, Grobbelaar, Steve Nicol, Dalglish, Rush. And the rest. These weren’t Instagram models or brand ambassadors. Much of what made this team is the warrior aspect against adversity. And I just don’t think Pogba has truly shown that yet. He had an easy time of it in a glittering Juve side and then really struggled when challenged by Mourinho. The 81 Liverpool guys would’ve eaten him alive.
Thing is, Souness wouldn’t fare much better in the fast, free flowing French team. He’d be miles too slow for one thing, likely be sent off most matches and his confrontational manner would likely have seen him ejected from the squad.
So ultimately it just comes down to what you value higher in a footballer. Tenacity or skill.
Image credit: Joe.co.uk