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Fantasy Football Timewarp

By Tim Wardrop :  17/02/2009 :  Comments (32) :
Given our current good form there is a growing temptation to compare our current side to the legendary 1985 team. How do they stack up man for man?

In a moment of tedium at work I've tried to compile my own combination XI from the two sets of players.

GK: Much as Howard has been near faultless for us, there is only one Neville Southall

RB: tougher than it looks, but Stevens had so much of an all round game that he has to squeeze Neville and Hibbert out.

CB: The rat has to be in, but who is his partner? Mountfield complemented him so well and chipped in with a lot of goals, but was he in the same class really as Jags, Lescott and (for that matter) Yobo? I think not, so on current form I'm going to go with the Jag alongside captain Kev.

LB: Another tough call. Baines has the potential to be the best left back we've had in a long, long time, but in my eyes is still way short of reaching his best. Psycho Pat was a club legend, but really he was quite a limited player and (being right footed) struggled to offer too much going forward. I'm going to switch Lescott over to LB for this team.

RM: We've got loads of potential right side midifelders in the current squad, with Victor, Ossie, AVDM and Gosling all playing there recently. But, with Stevens behind him, I think Tricky Trev has to get the nod, not least for his goals, especially in the ECWC.

CM: Bracewell was a class act and Fellaini, Rodwell, Neville et al are all proving their worth this season, but what a combination Reid and Arteta would have been. Any arguments there? Maybe Arteta in a wide role to accommodate Brace?

LM: Got to be honest, but Sheeds is well ahead of Pienaar, Gosling, AVDM and Osman in my eyes.

FW: Now here's a tough one. Inchy? Gray? Sharp? Yakubu? And what about Tiny Tim?! For me Heath was a player who was always one notch below the top level. Much as it pains me to say it he was never an international class footballer, although before his injury he was a quality player for us.

Gray? Cult hero for a time, but his goals to game ratio just wasn't good enough for us, depsite his fantastic contribution. For me, I think Cahill HAS to be in there, as a second striker. And now, I'm going to be really controversial and pick the Yak up front with him.

Sharp was and still is an Everton hero. But pace was never his strongest suit and whilst he offered much more all round play than the Yak I'm going to have to go with the goals and the sharpness of Yakubu. Sorry Sharpy! I know many of you will think I've gone nuts, but I honestly think Yakubu could have scored 35 in the 84-85 season, plus the Cahill / Yak combination last season was so good.

First XI (4-4-1-1):

Southall; Stevens, Jagielka, Ratcliffe*, Lescott; Steven, Reid, Arteta, Sheedy; Cahill; Yakubu.

Subs: Howard, Yobo, Neville, Bracewell, Fellaini, Gray, Sharp.

Reader Comments

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JL Slap
1   Posted 17/02/2009 at 16:54:08

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I know fans like doing this sort of stuff, but I?ve never got it. If you saw the show on Sky last night, Jeff asked Howard Kendall to compare his 85 side with the 70 side that he played in. Obviously bored with the question, he responded by saying it was impossible, they were the best for the era they played in. Simple as...

Point is you can't compare players from different eras, never mind teams.
Adam Cunliffe
2   Posted 17/02/2009 at 17:21:21

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TBH mate, I wouldn't even change the 84-85 team. Wasn?t lucky enough to be around then but my Dad went every game home and away and according to him he?s never seen a better Everton side.
Christopher Mowll
3   Posted 17/02/2009 at 18:01:00

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Madness! You must have been bored at work Tim!

Back to JL?s reference to Sky?s ?Time of Our Lives? last night. HK said that the '85 side had no weaknesses.

If our current squad wins anything in the next few years, then maybe an 85-year-old Jeff Stelling will be interviewing a 60-year-old Tim Cahill about which side was better ? the 2010 side or the 1985 side. Until then, no contest: 1985 for me ? man for man.
Bernie Ashe
4   Posted 17/02/2009 at 19:12:38

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The 85 team was the best in Europe at the time, not so sure that's true today.
Man for man, 85 team everytime!
Brian Waring
5   Posted 17/02/2009 at 19:49:33

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The 85 team is head and shoulders above the present team. When this team has won what the 85 team did, then maybe you can start comparing.

JL, but when Royle was asked, he said the 70 side was the best in his opinion.
Dan Adams
6   Posted 17/02/2009 at 21:54:08

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I’d take the 85 team with Arteta!!
Steve Ryan
7   Posted 17/02/2009 at 22:03:47

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Surely this is a wind up? It?s like comparing Vera Duckworth to Angeline Jolean. Possibly the most ridiculous post in the history of ToffeeWeb.
Jason Broome
8   Posted 17/02/2009 at 22:38:36

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Steve, I hope Angeline Jolean?s a woman!
Jason Broome
9   Posted 17/02/2009 at 22:43:34

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This is harmless fun and should not be taken so seriously. It says a lot about the present team when you can draw comparisons between the two.

However, the 80?s side had a mental strength akin to the modern day Man Utd and totally believed that they could beat anybody. I know of no-one in our team that, as yet could compete with that.
Jason Broome
10   Posted 17/02/2009 at 22:43:34

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This is harmless fun and should not be taken so seriously. It says a lot about the present team when you can draw comparisons between the two.

However, the 80s side had a mental strength akin to the modern day Man Utd and totally believed that they could beat anybody. I know of no-one in our team that, as yet could compete with that.
Simon Gill
11   Posted 17/02/2009 at 22:56:45

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Those of us who saw the development of the 85 side are too blinded by the love we have for them to make such rational decisions. I’ve always thought that the growth of that side into, undoubtedly, the best in Europe was tinged with luck. Be honest, who that was bought for that side, or who developed into it did you think was a world beater when you first saw them? Steven and Sheedy always looked quite assured and Bracewell came into a good side but I think all the others struggled a bit........
Jay Harris
12   Posted 17/02/2009 at 23:29:48

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I think the point is well made that the 80s side were by far the best team in the world for a while and consistently one of the top 2 teams in the league for a number of years so no comparison can be made except to say the spirit and never-say-die attitude ?currently being shown ? was the basis of that side?s greatness and, if we can maintain that, we may approach that side?s achievements but while my heart says we can my head says we won't.
Jason Lam
13   Posted 18/02/2009 at 02:35:08

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The 85 side was voted World Soccer Team of the Year. Any of the current player would have to fight for the shirts 12-14.
John Sweeney
14   Posted 18/02/2009 at 00:40:40

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No way would I have Yakubu in instead of Sharp, I?m not to sure I would have him in the current side.

Someone wrote how the 84-85 side came together through luck, starting the season before with the cup runs. Brock?s backpass was certainly the most famous. There were obviously more moments when good fortune shined on us. I remember a young Cascarino playing for Gillingham in the first Fourth Round replay, beating the offside trap deep in the 2nd half of extra time, going clear with only Nev to beat, who collected the ball off his feet. The chance had gone, we won the 2nd replay by half-time and with the cup runs gaining momentum, that most elusive of any team's chemistry, CONFIDENCE grew in abundance.

This is where I see the present team similarities. The confidence from our run in the last three months is showing throughout the side. With the breakthrough of the young bucks, competition for places can only make us think better days are ahead. Still back to the Yak, his injury apart, he blows hot and cold for me, leaving me frustrated and pissed off with his contribution on the pitch.

I think there's a lot of substance in Southgate?s comments when he left Boro. With the addition of Jo and If Vic can string more performances like Sunday?s then we could start having serious competition for the places upfront that have always been missing in Moyes's sides.

The confidence is growing, belief is growing, a little bit of long overdue luck and this side could go farther than most of us dare dream. COYB

Erik Dols
15   Posted 18/02/2009 at 08:01:48

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When you mentioned Anichebe and AVDM as RM’s I stopped reading, to be honest. I know you chose Steven (and rightly so) but to even consider those players for just one second... Ridiculous!
Graham mccann
16   Posted 18/02/2009 at 09:07:54

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The 85 team without any doubt. And the subs bench? Alan Harper.
David Ellis
17   Posted 18/02/2009 at 09:06:09

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Psycho Pat was not a limited player.He had fantastic ball control and the ability to go past players on the flank. Good in the air and with decent pace. Very steady one on one against the best wingers in Europe. Famous for his poor discipline ? but at Everton this was not a major problem. The best left back in the league in his day and certainly better than the admirable Baines or any other left back we have had since.

Bracewell is better than Arteta ? his long range distribution was probably better and his ball winning ability far superior. Arteta has the deal ball delivery edge ? but in the ?85 side this role was handled by Sheedy, who shades Arteta in this department.
Ray Roche
18   Posted 18/02/2009 at 09:37:14

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I agree with Royle....
Ed Fitzgerald
19   Posted 18/02/2009 at 10:50:29

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Arteta is a good enough player to have graced any Everton side.
EJ Ruane
20   Posted 18/02/2009 at 10:46:11

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The 85 side was better (it just was). However, I?d have a harder time answering that question if you asked about another title-winning side - the 87 champions.

Many of the games that season (like this) were won on sheer hard work. Like this year, we had a lot of injuries and changes in 87, yet those who came in as replacements did so with exactly the right attitude. Unfashionable players like Harper and Power were magnificent that year. (Mathew Le Tissier was a great ?footballer?, but he won fuck all coz he basically played for himself and for the fun of it).

Once players understand it?s the team, NOT them who wins stuff, they have a chance. That might sound like stating the bleeding obvious (to say ?football is a team game?) but the actions of loads of players and supporters (although agreeing) indicate they don?t really get it.

Example: Duncan Ferguson was a great blue etc blah.


The truth is he was a talented footballer but many couldn?t (and still can?t) see how little he ACTUALLY put in. Was his heavy boozing, smoking, getting sent off etc good for the team? Was his contribution ACTUALLY more than say Lee Carsley?s? Not in my opinion, but it?s Duncan who is the Everton Legend.

Managers usually know the game is all about 11 performing as one, but it?s only when they can actually get this into the heads of their players, that trophies are won. Moyes, if not there, looks very close to achieving this with the present side.
Brian Garside
21   Posted 18/02/2009 at 11:23:16

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Think about where thr ´85 team came from:

Nev, lower league
Stevens,own product
VdH, bought from Brums, but not too expensive
Rat, own product
Monty, bought cheaply from Tranmere
Trev, bought from Burnley £300,000 expensive
Bracewell, bought £220,000 not cheap
Reid, bought from Bolton £60,000 a real gamble concidering his history of injuries.
Sheedy, bought £1000,000 rs reserve. Bargin
Sharp, own product? (ask C Harvey) bought cheap
Gray, gamble
Heath, record sighning
Richardson, own product
Harper rs reserve cheap
Atkins, cheap

This team is made of of a selection of bargins, gambles, development of own youth players with the odd large purchase. But how could they play. Similarities anyone?

JL Slap
22   Posted 18/02/2009 at 12:29:18

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Brian W ? Royle did say that the 70 side was better or more accuratley that they would ?take some beating? but he would say that as he had nothing to do with the 85 side.

But it sort of further proves my point that its nearly impossible to compare players & teams of different era?s.

Dave Torley
23   Posted 18/02/2009 at 12:39:57

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Sharpy came from Dumbarton for £125k.

When I go to Goodison wondering not if we will win or lose but by how many we will win by, I?ll know we are back at the 85 team's level.
Chris Stone
24   Posted 18/02/2009 at 12:31:17

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Decent article for a bit of fun. But regarding our current first 11, I can?t see why Tim or anyone would pick Lescott at LB over Baines? Baines is much more mobile and I have been impressed by the way he has taken his (overdue) chance for Everton. Lescott for me is a centre-back who is very useful at set-pieces.

I?m actually worried if Lescott or Jagielka get injured and Yobo comes back in because he just seems to make too many mistakes. If we had one more centre-back, another defensive midfielder (as first choice or cover), a winger or two with pace and ability, and less injury-prone forwards I think we would be somewhere near the potential of the ?85 team.

Ray Roche
25   Posted 18/02/2009 at 12:54:42

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I think today?s side would have a lot of catching up to do to be compared favourably with the 84 side and they?d be even further away from the 69-70 side. From Christmas 84 to May 85 we WON 16 games and drew only 2 from a total of 18 matches. That?s the sort of run that wins ? and won ? the League.

Likewise in 69-70 we started the season with 15 wins, 2 draws and 1 defeat and we finished the season with 8 straight wins and drew the last game against Sunderland when the League was already won. I can?t see today's team being as strong and consistent as that, even though we have had some decent runs.

John Green
26   Posted 18/02/2009 at 20:35:04

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RM: We?ve got loads of potential right side midifelders in the current squad, with Victor, Ossie, AVDM and Gosling all playing there recently. But, with Stevens behind him, I think Tricky Trev has to get the nod, not least for his goals, especially in the ECWC.

Are you just looking for a reaction or are you just off ya head? Where you there in the 80s? Did you see Trevor Steven play? Do you remember his nickname from the terraces? GOD! The lad had everything, he could tackle, he could score, defend, attack with brilliance, show people his arse as they slipped in his wake. Today he would be one of the most sought after midfielders in Europe. Think ya need to start takin the tablets again mate.

These teams cannot be compared. This period was a most glorious time in our history and I am just fortunate enough to have been able to witness it. My son is now starting to experience something of the same thing. He has heard me bang on about this great period, 5-0 against Man Utd, Sharp's goal at Anfield, Bayern Munich, seeing us win the league against QPR ? goes on and on. He is now getting his memories from this year and seeing Everton give him some pride.

But this is the beauty of the game that we all have our opinions... Steve Simonsen for goalie anyone?? :)

Denis Byrne
27   Posted 18/02/2009 at 22:17:06

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Good game this ... if we say we know our history, then it's got to be 1927-33 side ? all power and grace in equal measure and perfectly balanced. Alongside God Dean was Cresswell (maybe matched by Ray Wilson) and the incomparable TG Jones (who Stanley Mathews said was the best player he ever saw). Difficult to see any of the current side getting in, maybe Southall for Sagar (at a push). We?ll be getting into a discussion about formations next ? 5 forwards or 0 forwards ... duh
Guy Hastings
28   Posted 19/02/2009 at 21:25:06

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TG Jones, whispered with reverence by my dad - and not just because he?s 85 and can?t find his teeth.
Will Leaf
29   Posted 20/02/2009 at 00:40:35

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Yak in for Sharpy? I am glad I was not eating when I read that.

None today fit to shine the boots of the 85 team. Though a fair share of them could buy the company that makes the boots of which they are not fit to shine.

(O, and thanks Guy, I was eating when I read the bit about your dad. Nice one!)
Denis Byrne
30   Posted 20/02/2009 at 12:08:41

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Nice one Guy - how about some more from your Dad, many of us simply love to hear the old fella’s speak about those ancient idols we can only dream about (although some lovely stuff in the recent Everton history DVD that leaves you drooling for more). Ask him ... please ...
Stephen Regan
31   Posted 22/02/2009 at 06:00:08

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Spare a thought for us younger Evertonians who can only watch a few of the past games on DVD?s and be told how wonderful Everton used to be. Believe me, the stories grew a bit tiring when you got your blue stripes during the awful 90s and post-Moyes years. It?s a joy to be able to go to get excited about the blues for a change, even if it?s a bit over the top.
Lee Gray
32   Posted 22/02/2009 at 12:58:45

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85 team all of em......end of chat!!

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