In our final extracts from the new book about Graeme Souness, the self-professed

right-winger sets about dismantling the hallowed traditions of Rangers Football Club

THERE is no doubt Graeme Souness would say he does not give a damn about public hostility towards him. ''Being successful is more important to me than being popular.'' With this opening sentence of his autobiography, No Half Measures, he made it clear he was not interested in winning popularity contests, only in winning trophies, and he did that in full measure during his brief return to the land of his birth. But, having studied him carefully, I am not so sure about his indifference.

There is a problem around a perception of Souness as a Scot, and this difficulty makes it easier for hostility to fester. I remember a bizarre argument I had in 1990 with a group of Rangers supporters who were convinced Souness was English. The fact that one or two could remember him playing for Scotland was not accepted by people who knew Ray Houghton was a Glaswegian and Mick McCarthy was English as proof of my argument that he was indeed Scottish. ''He talks like an Englishman, acts like an Englishman, and is surrounding himself with as many of his countrymen as possible,'' was the consensus of this group. If they had been more politically aware they could have added, ''and votes like an Englishman''.

In that last comment we have the essence of much

of the dislike of Souness. He is an outsider, an ''English Tory'' whose values and atti-tudes have no

place or resonance in Scotland. Even the more sophisticated Scots who know that it cannot be disputed that Souness was born and raised in Edinburgh hide behind the myth, usually reserved for its upper middle classes and not a wee boy from hidden, hard Broomhouse, that Edinburgh is an English city. Whatever his roots, he is seen as someone who has deliberately transformed himself into a classic product of 1980s Thatcherism. His identity is as cosmopolitan Englishman. Arrogance is a word that features in every description of Souness, even from friends. It is sad reflection of the crippled inferiority deep within the Scottish psyche that that kind of arrogance is seen as an essentially English vice. Souness is arrogant, therefore he must be English, Also he came to Glasgow an obvious stranger, divorced from any Scottish experience or understanding.

Even as a player for the national team he encountered hostility from his own supporters. I recall several evenings on the terracings at Hampden where storms of boos erupted every time Souness was anywhere near the action. There is a long tradition at Hampden of antipathy to Anglos, particularly for those who had previously played for one or other of the Glasgow teams, a fine tradition to go alongside the antipathy to those who still played for one or other of the Glasgow giants, enough to guarantee boos from at least one end of their own home ground. Even King Kenny, widely acknowledged even by Rangers supporters as the greatest Scottish player of his and perhaps any generation, could be and often was booed for the perceived crime of reserving his best form for his club rather than his country. But the hostility to Souness, the Scottish internationalist, was of a different nature and magnitude.

It was related to his lack of commitment to, rather than in, that jersey. As he admitted very frankly in his autobiography, Souness's commitment to the jersey was less than total and he often pulled out of Scottish games. This lack of commitment was obvious to the foot soldiers and generated much resentment. However, once he actually managed to get the jersey over his head, his performance was always committed and for years Souness was one of the most influential Scottish players.

Omar Borras, manager of Uruguay in 1986, was amazed that Souness was not chosen to play against his cynical team in the crucial qualifier for the second round of that World Cup. Perceptive Scottish supporters shared his surprise but few shared his obvious delight and relief. If Souness were not a Scot he could be a classic Uruguayan, skillful and hard in equal measure. Alex Ferguson recently admitted that his decision to drop Souness for that game was a major mistake.

I wonder if the irony of being

disliked for his ''Englishness'' was lost on the man who called one of the chapters of

his autobiography, Sometimes I wish I was English. This was almost certainly only a typical example of his liking for a dry joke. No other Scottish footballer would ever have said that, even as a joke. And no other Scotsman would have referred dismissively to his local born players as ''Jocks'' as Souness did at Ibrox.

Those Scottish views of Souness shaped the perception of him at the time he was appointed to the Rangers job. OK, he was a good player, an influential captain. OK, he was a hard man, as hard as they ever came. OK, he was, with Dalglish, one of only two Scots respected throughout world football. But we don't like the flash act. There is some evidence that the reception of the home crowd to him as an international player did cause him some resentment. But there is no reason to suppose it went against a desire to join Rangers. He probably assumed his detractors would re-evaluate him once he was one of theirs.

It is harder now, 11 years on, to recreate the sense of the immediate reaction to the news of his appointment. Some Rangers supporters were antagonistic to him personally from the start and denounced the appointment as a bad move and a betrayal of Rangers traditions. For some this was based on the fear that Souness, a man with a Catholic wife on his arm and a gold crucifix round his neck, would dilute the Protestant Puritanism of their beloved institution. For the more sophisticated of the sceptics it was a worry that their club had appointed a man with no knowledge of, far less commitment to, their special history and traditions, and one who might therefore pose a threat to the sense of history and continuity that was so important to them.

But for the great majority of Rangers supporters, the news of his appointment was greeted with rapturous excitement. The People were prepared in the main to let bygones go unremarked and to welcome a new hero affectionately to their collective bosom.

It was from the other end of the city and the sectarian divide that the distaste was more pronounced. That of course was a compliment to Souness, because behind the venom about his style, his politics, his hardness, lay a fear that he would solve Rangers problems and transform them into a successful outfit again.

Souness's appointment was initially welcomed by most of the third force in Scottish football, people who loved the game and who knew that the long-term health of Scottish football required a healthy Rangers. Most neutrals too hoped that the appointment of someone who was so obviously his own man would mean an end to the sectarian nonsense that was a scab on the whole of Scottish football.

So it was not predetermined that he would end up unpopular. Nor was it an inevitable function of his position. Mature men like Stein and Symon, younger men like McNeill and Greig, had shown it was possible to occupy one of those Old Firm posts, with or without success, and still be liked. But by 1991 a significant element of Rangers supporters did not like him, despite the amazing transformation in their status under his leadership. The reasons for this distaste are certainly not solely attributable to his signing of Maurice Johnston. In fact, a significant section of the support actually welcomed the lancing of the sectarian boil that threatened to mar the beauty of their club. But some supporters found other reasons to dislike the man who had transformed their club and its fortunes, reasons to do with his lack of respect for the traditions of their club and the particular way he imposed

his unique personality upon it.

Celtic supporters loathed him for a more understandable reason. Their initial fears proved correct. He had rescued their rivals from a fallow period and transformed them, possibly permanently, into a superior club and organisation. His arrogance and a curiously naive and unsophisticated adoption of what at times seemed a hardly understood anti-Celtic feeling ruled out any chance of even grudging respect. By signing Maurice Johnston in the manner and circumstances in which he did, he made it possible for Celtic supporters to deny him any credit or gratitude or affection for his courage in breaking the ''No Catholics'' taboo. Celtic fans also regularly rhymed out all the same reasons neutrals used to explain their dislike of the man. Both groups despised his hardness, his team's utilitarian play, his Conservatism, his wine drinking, his English cosmopolitanism, his devotion to Thatcher.

The real reason for the unpopularity of Graeme Souness in Scotland was that he was identified even by the supporters of his own successful club as the embodiment of That Bloody Woman's principles and values. It was not simply a matter that he made no attempt to hide his support for her. That was a brave enough stance in the Scotland of the late 80s when hatred of her was at its height. But there were other men and women who equally braved the parapets and shouted their support and who avoided the same degree of abuse and antipathy. It was a much more subtle process whereby his whole lifestyle and personality became identified with her philosophy, a philosophy rejected by most segments of Scottish society. With the rejection of the philosophy went a rejection of him.

Souness supported the lady and her attempts to modernise and transform the UK. This included support for the notion of industries, like individuals, having to stand on their own two feet. Failure to make such a transition should lead to the closing down of industries, whatever the social and human consequences. He also accepted her total rejection of any notions of devolution and saw Scotland's place as an integral part of the UK. This support was recognised by a society in which even many of the traditionally Conservative elements stridently rejected both the philosophy and its leading advocate, both of which were seen as politically abhorrent and counter to Scottish traditions.

SO the actions Souness took in relation to Rangers Football Club, without him necessarily recognising the fact or consciously seeking to achieve it, were direct applications of the Iron Lady's philosophy. This application was outstandingly successful in a way that none of her political and economic initiatives could be said to be. But this paradox still engendered an unhealthy degree of antipathy for the perpetrator, even among those who benefited from the success.

To understand this phenomenon fully, it is necessary to be aware of one of the key components of the Thatcher revolution often missed by non-Conservatives. Her more publicised comments about the miners and other unions as being ''the enemy within'' have tended to obscure the extent to which she identified poor British management as being one of the principal problems and the real enemy to be tackled - weak managements grown used to lack of rigorous competition and over-reliant on subsidy and protection, hiding behind traditions of ''this is the way things have always been done''. Thatcherism is about the ruthless exposure of such practices to hard economic realities involving brutal laws of supply, demand, and competition. She despised the cosiness of the post-war consensus engaged in by both Labour and Conservative governments and the involvement of the trade unions in the business of economic

management. Thatcherism relied partly on hiding the extent of its rejection of recent Conservative economic philosophy by making strident emotional appeals to better days, to Victorian values, and a glorious, distant past, so obscuring the defects of the more recent past.

That was the approach Souness adopted on arrival at Ibrox. He knew the real enemy was the club's poor management and its over-reliance of traditional ways of doing and not doing things. So while he made all the right noises about respecting Rangers' glorious traditions he set about dismantling them. Signing superior English players was one example of this. He ignored all the reasons why it couldn't be done, had never been done, would damage traditional wage structures, etc, and used the economic muscle he had been given to ensure money talked and the men he wanted accepted its invitation. It was obvious to him from the start that the sectarian recruitment policy was a classic example of a harmful tradition, one whose application harmed and restricted Rangers. There was never any doubt that it would go. The reasons why it took so long for him to achieve this are the subject of a separate section

of the book but the relevant point here is that it was the application of the man's economic philosophy rather than any moral concerns which meant the tradition was doomed.

Although he became emotionally caught up later in some of the more excessive Rangers-Celtic nonsense, he publicly set out from the start his intention of weaning Rangers away from the notion that being superior to Celtic was the most important goal for the club. When he indicated he would be prepared to trade defeats against Celtic for success in Europe he betrayed one of the most basic Ibrox traditions of all. He took success in Scotland for granted and as of limited importance. Rangers would not be a success in his terms until they were a major player and victor on the European scene.

Of all the traditions he broke, the most important one probably was his interference in the affairs of the board. It was Souness's direct intervention that led to the involvement of David Murray, the event which made Rangers' transformation an irreversible reality. It is no coincidence that Souness was socially involved with Scotland's most prominent entrepreneur and it is no coincidence that it was such a man he persuaded into becoming totally involved in buying Rangers. It is also consistent with this analysis and interpretation that Souness put up a significant sum of his own money into this transformation of the management of the club. This investment produced, despite denials to the contrary from several principal sources, a very large return.

Go into Glasgow pubs and ask Rangers supporters why they did not like Graeme Souness and they will seldom say directly that it

was because he was a classic Thatcherite. But tease out with them the potentially confusing situation as to why someone so phenomenally successful was disliked and the truth comes out that much of the dislike is a returned feeling. They generally have a very strong sense that Souness did not particularly like Glasgow Rangers, and certainly did not like its mass of supporters, particularly the faithful core, that he had no deep respect for the traditions of the club they love and often saw these traditions as impediments to his own agenda. That is the reason for the dislike by so many of the people to whom he brought such success, and it is a direct result of the values he carries with him, values derived in large part from the politician whom he so admired and most of the rest of his fellow countryfolk so despised. Any comparison of Rangers before and after Souness makes it impossible to

deny that

he was very successful. Attendances, season ticket sales, match receipts and related income, and all

the other measurements make such a conclusion undeniable. The change from a club struggling to be fifth in a 10-club league was remarkable. It was transformed into one that won four league titles out of five in the subsequent years, plus another four cup trophies. His legacy of achievement plus the installation of Murray as the man in charge has ensured this success continued.

On March 10, 1990, David Murray, who was a personal friend of Malcolm Rifkind and had close connections with the Conservative Party leadership in Scotland and London, organised the visit of Margaret Thatcher to Ibrox Stadium to make the Scottish Cup semi-final draw before the quarter-finals had been played. It must have been one of the proudest days of Graeme Souness's life as he showed his heroine round the wonderful new stadium and introduced her to his players, all instructed to be smartly dressed for the occasion. She described the stadium as ''legendary'' and said: ''It leads the UK in the excellence of its facilities.''

One thing is clear, Rangers will never return to what they were before Souness. This transplant of the Iron Lady's notions into one of Scotland's premier institutions has hardly begun to run its inevitable dramatic course. Already at nine-in-a-row, their domestic dominance is set to grow. What has not been fully grasped is the longer-term significance of the prevailing culture within Ibrox. As surely as money moves to follow markets, Rangers will move out of Scottish football. A reserve team may be left in the Scottish League for sentimental and political reasons but the main thrust of Rangers' business will move to a bigger market. That is the real Thatcherite legacy Souness has left the Scottish people. His revolution will eventually tear the heart out of the national game.

n Taken from Graeme Souness: The Ibrox Revolution and the Legacy of the Iron Lady's Man published next week by Mainstream at #14.99.