For those following the Premier League for about a decade, Graeme Souness could be widely described as the old-school, occasionally annoying pundit on Sky Sports. He isn’t known to mince with his words and is often very direct with his criticism of something he doesn’t like.
Souness earned (unwanted) fame on the internet for his obsession with criticizing Paul Pogba through the majority of his time at Manchester United. The Scotsman was a tough, uncompromising midfielder during his playing career – getting most of his success at Liverpool – with whom he won five top-division titles and three European Cups (Champions League).
The 69-year-old became a manager soon after retiring in 1991, going on to have managerial stints at clubs like Liverpool, Southampton, Benfica and Newcastle United. Soon after getting fired by Newcastle in 2006, he decided to move away from the management scene to focus on something else.
In 2007, Souness was hired by Sky to be a pundit for their Premier League shows. He’s been a mainstay on the channel since then, often being tasked to do punditry for the major Liverpool games – including those against Manchester United. In recent years, he’s been brutal with his criticism towards players like Pogba and become an internet meme for that reason.
However, earlier this year, Souness revealed that he would be walking away from his job at Sky Sports. He had his final assignment with Sky during Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Tottenham Hotspur on April 30 and Sky even made a lovely little montage for him.
In his personal opinion of his decision to leave, Souness said: “I’m going to miss you guys, the guys behind the scenes, our make-up girl, I’ll miss you all. You know, for me, I decided that football management wasn’t for me any more. I had the wrong temperament for it, the wrong personality.
“And then I was given the opportunity to do this and it’s been magnificent. It’s just been the most fantastic time for me, because I love football, I care about football and I worry about it going forward. But in Sky’s hands it’s in good hands, safe hands, and I think over the years we’ve created a Premier League with great detail and I think we look after football very well.”
The real reason behind his exit after a decade-and-a-half union, however, might be something totally different. It appears that Souness isn’t retiring from his punditry career, but Sky simply asked him to step down because they didn’t want to renew his contract for another season.
Sky Sports have reportedly changed their policy on the pundits they want on their shows going forward. They’re ready to replace the old pundits with a more ‘youthful’ look, trying to get more younger footballers or influencers to capture the youth demographic in England.
Basically, they want younger fans watching their shows hence trying to replace old pundits like Souness with people who the younger demographic would be attracted towards. Sky have been quite successful in getting footballers to do punditry for them too, with Phil Jones turning up (while being contracted to Manchester United) in the Carabao Cup final.
Even ex-Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany did a bit of punditry for them before moving onto the management scene. Sky has also cancelled the popular show Soccer AM after three decades on the air. They’re reshuffling their programming scene to try and attract the attention of a younger demographic.
Souness, however, shouldn’t be that impacted by this. He’s currently also appearing in some of Talksport’s shows and has his own column on the Daily Mail – for which he’s obviously paid to.
Now that he’s also not contracted to Sky, the ex-Liverpool midfielder can also apply to be a pundit for platforms like BT Sport, CBS and more. Knowing his ability to ‘trend’ because of his controversial comments, many outlets would be interested in acquiring him to do punditry for them.