Souness has waited on the sidelines, loading his gun, ready to aim for the perfect opportunity to blast Grealish down. Notice how he was short on ammunition just six months ago when the Manchester City star played every minute in the Champions League final to clinch a historic treble?
In his latest Daily Mail column, Souness has ripped into Grealish following an injury-hit start to the campaign. The 70-year-old is on the verge of writing him off, weaponising Jeremy Dokus success to take aim at the midfielder.
No coach would tell a player to linger on the ball like Grealish does, and that is why hes found himself out of the team, Souness seethed. They paid 55million for Doku, a little over half of the 100m they paid for Grealish. That shows you the premium there is on Premier League players. There are no bargains to be had in England, they are overvalued.
And if youre City, spending 100m, its not for a squad player. Its for someone who gets in the strongest XI and makes a difference in every game they play. Jack is not that, and Im not sure he ever will be.
He is, for me, at a crossroads in his City career. Doku is 21 years old and is only going to improve. Jack is 28. He needs to have a close look at himself. He should be in his pomp. Between 26 and 30 you have the knowledge. Youre physically and mentally stronger. He will not be getting any better. This should be his time.
There is form for this. In September 2022, the pair were embroiled in a public spat when Souness called Grealish a good, but not great player. The Man City ace hit back by telling the pundit to leave him alone, insisting he was permeating an unfair agenda.
In truth, Grealish would admit – as he did earlier this month – that his form has not been up to scratch this season. His post-treble celebrations were well-documented but nobody can honestly cite that as a reason for his underwhelming 2023-24 so far.
Grealish was never going to be Souness type of player. A good-looking, cheeky chappy with an eccentric streak, he represents the antithesis of passion zealots like Souness and Roy Keane, another who has previously vented criticism.
Mavericks have always proven his downfall – he cannot handle them. A circus ensued at Souness last managerial job at Newcastle United, with Craig Bellamy almost his dance partner in the first-ever influencer fight. Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer scrapping on the pitch – on his watch – also offered a microcosm of the truth: Souness does not understand the modern player.