Chris Sutton provides class Souness putdown as he addresses "idiotic" 2002 Celtic remark
Chris Sutton has provided a class putdown of Graeme Souness after his infamous 2002 “men against boys” remark after a UEFA Cup clash against Celtic.
Souness was in charge of Blackburn Rovers when they came up against the Hoops in the 2002 UEFA Cup second round. Martin O’Neill’s Bhoys secured a famous 3-0 aggregate win against the then-English Premier League outfit.
The tie is remembered mostly for the superb 2-0 win at Ewood Park in the second leg. However, it came after a cagey 1-0 win for Celtic at Parkhead in the first in which Rovers had the better of the chances. Blackburn captain Garry Flitcroft stated after the game that Souness had informed his players it was “men against boys”, before being dumped out in the second leg.
And Sutton has revisited the remark made by Souness as he spoke to Open Goal:
“It was just an idiotic thing to say. It’s like anything, you know when you played well and you know when you played badly. We didn’t play well, they actually played us off the park. They had Tugay, David Dunn, Damien Duff, Andy Cole – they were a good team. But we were resilient, edgy, didn’t create many opportunities and guess who scored at the end with a set-piece?
“Souness said that, Gary Flitcroft had said the same thing. And the truth is it was a really stupid thing to say. A draft thing to say because whether you hang it on the dressing room or not, we didn’t do that, we were more disappointed in ourselves that we didn’t play well.
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“I like Blackburn, I liked them as a club. But the Souness comments, he’s a smart guy, but it was a daft thing to say because basically he knew we weren’t that bad. And then you get egg on your face.”
Chris Sutton laughs off Graeme Souness’ infamous Celtic remark
It’s crazy to think that memorable UEFA Cup tie was lmost 20 years ago. Indeed, in only 20 days’ time it’ll officially be 19 years since that nervy first-leg in Glasgow.
Of course, the victory contains added significance considering it was the same campaign in which the Hoops managed to reach the UEFA Cup final in Seville. Souness’ remark after the first-leg only added to the brilliance of it all.
It says a lot that even to this day Celtic fans and former players are still talking about it. Whilst Sutton states the Hoops didn’t use Souness’ comment as motivation, that’s still difficult to believe. Especially considering the now-Sky Sports pundit’s history as a former Rangers player and manager.
Regardless, it’s always fun to reminisce about those days. Celtic in 2021 are so far away from being what they were back then. We haven’t been genuine contenders in Europe since that famous UEFA Cup run. We’ve barely been able to hold our own in the Champions League since Neil Lennon’s first spell either.
But thinking back to memorable moments like this one gives you something to fight for as a football club. Even if we never get there again, we’ll always strive towards being a big-hitter on the European stage once more. It is, after all, why we try to win the Scottish Premeirship every year.
Hopefully one day we’ll be able to look upon new European glories of a similar ilk to the early 2000s. Even if it’s way, way down the line.