Graeme Souness believes footballers wield such power in the game today that even Alex Ferguson has “to bite his lip” on a daily basis.
Souness, who managed Liverpool, Rangers and Newcastle, admitted he had physically manhandled players in his time and had wanted to punch them.
He claimed old-school bosses such as Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have had to change to survive.
Souness’ comments come in the wake of the altercation between Stoke manager Tony Pulis and striker James Beattie and Jim Magilton’s suspension by QPR over an alleged assault on midfielder Akos Buzsaky.
Souness said: “I can’t comment if the two most recent players have a case or not but I know I would always come down on the side of managers because managing today is an extremely difficult job and I know the frustrations that come with management.
“I’ve no desire to go back into management. Managing players today is a very, very difficult job and for people like Alex Ferguson who have been there through all the changes, like Arsene Wenger, they must have to bite their lip every day of the week they go to work because they are old school.
“They have evolved and all credit to them they have managed to manage in the modern game. They have had to change.”
Souness, speaking on Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme, admitted having had physical altercations with players in the past which stopped short of punching.
“That’s not acceptable,” said Souness.
“But I’ve been in a situation where you want to do that, most managers have. It’s very hard, especially after a game that you maybe felt an individual wasn’t doing what he was told to do, or doing his best, or not being part of the team and I think every manager (has wanted to) throw a punch at some time but I think he just can’t do that.
“I’ve not thrown a punch. Physically, I’ve actually got hold of someone but that’s 100 miles away from punching someone.
“There’s always been confrontation but generally it’s been kept in the dressing room, whereas today everything seems to get out of the dressing room.”
Souness also claims that players gang up to get managers the sack.
“That happens all the time, not necessarily because there’s been a physical confrontation between an individual and a manager,” said Souness.
“As a bigger coach you carry 20 top players. When those players are not in the team they’re not happy and that’s the difficult part about managing today at the highest level.
“These players have egos, they don’t like it when they’re not in the team every week. Managing those players sitting on the bench most weeks is a very, very difficult job and they will always have a sympathetic ear from someone else who’s not on the team and they can create a situation where it’s ’hey, let’s get him out of the door.”’
According to Souness, even Ferguson has to tip-toe around the stars at Old Trafford.
“I would imagine Alex has to bite his tongue every day of the week with the things that go on,” said Souness.
“I’m sure he has to be a diplomat. He would be a very different manager today from the one he was when he started at Aberdeen all those years ago.
“Players have such a powerful influence. Without naming names, at one of the biggest clubs around today the managers are changed on a regular basis and I’m sure the big players at the club had some input in that.”