Villa were beaten 6-1 by City at Villa Park on Sunday, with Drinkwater immediately coming into their starting line-up.
The central midfielder had only just joined on loan from Chelsea, and put in a disastrous display on debut for his new side.
And Souness felt Drinkwater looked unfit, which is understandable given his lack of football in recent years.
“I think it was a mistake,” Souness said.
“He’s played two games, it is to be expected. Some players with a pre-season need five game, some need 10. There is no way he could have been fit. He could have been in the gym doing double-sessions but he’s not been playing games and playing Liverpool or City are the hardest teams right now. He never laid a finger on anyone.”
Drinkwater will need to improve if he is to actually make a positive impact at Villa over the course of his loan spell.
The 29-year-old has not been at his best ever since leaving Leicester City in 2017, but he has previously been a standout midfielder in the Premier League, when he helped the Foxes win the title.
Villa need Drinkwater to find form, as they are without John McGinn currently, and the Scot is proving a huge miss.
Villa’s defeat to City saw them slip into the bottom three, with Smith’s side currently sat in 18th place in the Premier League table.
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