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Best since 84-85 ? says who?

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Once again I read recently (the Echo match report, v Stoke) about the present set of players being the best assembled since the mighty 84-85 side, but is it?

I believe Joe Royle's squad 94-96 was better ? in fact they won the FA Cup in 95 and finished 6th in 96; also in 94 he picked the team up from bottom of the table and eased them out of relegation comfortably. If you picked a composite side from the two eras, Joe's team would have the most players in it: 4-4-2 (I ain't David Moyes but if it mean leaving out Tiny Tim so be it)

Southall; Neville, Watson, Jagielka, Hinchcliffe; Kanchelskis, Arteta, Fellaini, Limpar; Ferguson; Rideout.
Gaz Cass, Liverpool     Posted 04/11/2010 at 17:28:35

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Nick Entwistle
1   Posted 04/11/2010 at 21:39:23

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I'm a massive Rideout fan, but he's no Saha or Yakubu.
Sean McCarthy
2   Posted 04/11/2010 at 21:42:31

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Rideout ahead of cahill?? I seriously don't think so!!
He may have got the winning goal but in the grand scheme of things rideout was crap!!
Ian Kearney
3   Posted 04/11/2010 at 21:46:51

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I'd argue the case for Baines aswell, Hinchcliffe's set pieces were outstanding, but I still feel Baines is the better footballer.
Ian Kearney
4   Posted 04/11/2010 at 21:48:39

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I'd also have Pienaar over Limpar aswell, far more consistent
David Thomas
5   Posted 04/11/2010 at 21:43:09

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I think if you looked at the whole first team squad from 94-96 and the present day squad i don't think many people would side with Royles squad.

Neville Southall, Jason Kearton, Earl Barrett, Andy Hinchcliffe, David Unsworth, Dave Watson, Marc Hottiger, Craig Short, Jon O'Connor, Graham Allen, John Ebbrell, Matthew Jackson, Vinny Samways, Joe Parkinson, Tony Grant,
Graham Stuart, Paul Rideout, Duncan Ferguson, Anders Limpar, Daniel Amokachi, Andrei Kanchelskis,
Michael Branch.

Would you really want to have the above squad available for this saturday compared to the current one?
Robert Daniels
6   Posted 04/11/2010 at 22:21:57

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Well said, Dave@ 5

Our present squad is stronger than probably any squad from the past. Good 11 though Gaz, and I would include Rideout, he was fantastic once he found form. But Hinchcliffe for Baines, no chance!

Also, you have omitted the future England captain, and the best midfielder of a generation: Our Jack.
Rob Jones
7   Posted 04/11/2010 at 22:36:31

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David Thomas- not checked dates but Barry Horne must have been around then too?

Not that h'd trouble the initial debate.
Rob Jones
8   Posted 04/11/2010 at 22:36:31

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David Thomas- not checked dates but Barry Horne must have been around then too?

Not that he'd trouble the initial debate.
Rob Jones
9   Posted 04/11/2010 at 22:36:31

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David Thomas- not checked dates but Barry Horne must have been around then too?

Not that he'd trouble the initial debate.
Ian Kearney
10   Posted 04/11/2010 at 22:46:03

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Hammer that point home Rob!
Shane Corcoran
11   Posted 04/11/2010 at 22:51:11

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Hinchcliffe and Rideout out straight away. Leave both Ferguson and Saha out of the debate as neither play/played enough.
Nathan Ward
12   Posted 04/11/2010 at 23:02:29

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Other than Kanchelskis I'd have none.

It is very interesting when you watch old matches. Even those from the mid 90's are slow and pedestrian compared to the matches we have now.

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that this current lot would even give the 85 team a go......

Football has moved on massively.....
James McGrady
13   Posted 04/11/2010 at 23:24:31

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Southall was just reaching his past it stage (all though he was amazing in the final).

Hinchcliffe could give Baines a run for his money.

Kanchelskis and Limpar would be better than Bily and Osman.

Other than that I can't say any of them would come close. The side of today would of been challenging for the title in the mid 90's. The improvement to the Premier League since then is vast.
David Thomas
14   Posted 04/11/2010 at 23:28:02

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Yeah your right i think Barry Horne was there. I think Abblett and Barlow could be added to the list as well.
Mike McLean
15   Posted 04/11/2010 at 23:32:29

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Does anyone know if Barry Horne was around at that time?
Nick Entwistle
16   Posted 04/11/2010 at 23:46:51

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Yeah the Horne was around at the time. Scored against Wibledon in 94, played the cup final in 95. Don't remember who he left us for... wait, Birmingham, but that would have been '96 or '97. My problem with Big Joe is that he sold off most of the cup final team too quickly... or was forced.
Simon Jenkins
17   Posted 04/11/2010 at 23:47:22

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Couldn't disagree more Gaz. The team that won the FA Cup in 1995 was still a poor team, that only finished 15th and reached mathematical safety in the penultimate league game away at Ipswich (1-0 win). This was after drawing the previous 4 games, including 3 consecutive home games at the end of the season. Amongst all the euphoria of winning the cup (and quite rightly so, it was a great achievement beating 3 top sides in Newcastle, Spurs and Man Utd en route; this is a mere footnote in history), we really were close to going down, despite Royle raising the players' games.

1995/1996 season - yes, we had a good season. Finished 6th, would have qualified Europe but for UEFA punishing English clubs by taking away a European place for that season because Spurs and Wimbledon played under-strength teams in the Intertoto the previous summer. But even that season was marred by the poor European campaign (knocked out in the 2nd round by Feyenoord) and embarrasing FA Cup exit courtesy of Port Vale. The following season (96/97) was even worse, culminating in an embarrasing FA Cup defeat for the 2nd successive season (Bradford) and then Royle's sacking by Johnson.

The Royle era team had one decent league season, and outside of the FA Cup win, a few memorable one-off games, but that is it really. Apart from maybe Kanchelskis and Speed, there was little real quality. Southall and Watson were at the end of their careers, multiple journeyman fullbacks were used, we bought a few poor midfielders that never cut the mustard, and up front was the same story too.

With the current team, we have quality and strength-in-depth. Bonafide internationals and experienced pros in most positions. Guys you can rely on, like Cahill. Arteta and Pienaar pulling the strings. Yak and Saha, in their pomp and when fit, capable of scoring against anyone. To name just a few. The current team is far better, and when you think back to the dross before Moyes, and keep going further and further back, it really is the best team/squad we've had since the mid to late 1980s.
Jimmy Hacking
18   Posted 05/11/2010 at 00:02:19

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Nostalgia is great and all that but the squad from 94-96 would finish about 15th in the prem today, the standard has gone through the roof since then, with all the foreign stars/mercenaries (delete where applicable).

Some of our regulars from that era (Amokachi, Ebrell, Samways, Barrett) would struggle to get into a Championship side. I'd take Kanchelskis and Southall, and Ferguson as a sub (yes, really).

Even our title-winning sides from 85 and 87 would get utterly destroyed by present-day Chelsea.
Peter Bourke
19   Posted 05/11/2010 at 00:14:13

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Got to agree totally with Simon @16.
Cahill would be the first, second and third player picked in the team of 95 Gaz.
Jamie Sweet
20   Posted 05/11/2010 at 00:15:03

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Kanchelskis was the nuts. I would give my right one to have a player like him on our wing again!

I agree with the general sentiment that cup win aside, that wasn't a great team - nor was it capable of playing quality football on a regular basis. I feel that he odd glimpse of magic from the likes of Limpar and Kanchelskis probably masked what an unattractive team it was to watch generally. They weren't labelled the "Dogs of War" for nothing!
David Hallwood
21   Posted 05/11/2010 at 00:27:58

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I remember being on holiday down south, around that time and we were playing Man U at Old Trafford midweek, and I had crept out to listen to it on the car radio; we were 2-0 up with Big Dunc, getting both goals. The commentator asked the summariser (Who I think may have been Jim Beglin) is Everton strong enough to win the title, and he replied ?No; they don?t keep the ball well enough?. That to me is the difference between the mid 90s and today?s side, but what would you give for Kanchelsis?
Eugene Ruane
22   Posted 05/11/2010 at 00:26:57

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I actually tend to agree with Gaz.

I have no idea where this 'best since 85' thing started but (like the pre-season's 'we're gonna win the league' nonsense) it seems if you repeat stuff often enough, some will start to see it as fact.

I can't say they would have beaten the present side for definite, but I think 'the dogs of war' were at least as good as today's blues and winning the cup final against United (and the semi against a much fancied Spurs) can't just be dismissed.
Jon Ferguson
23   Posted 05/11/2010 at 00:28:59

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The FA Cup Final win is one of my most treasured memories. As I was only 13 at the time, I look back with rose-tinted glasses; the glasses would have to be blacked out for me not to recognize that the current squad is superior.

The next season, we signed Kanchelskis and he would provide what we desperately need now, a direct right-sided player with pace to burn; besides that, there is no comparison.

Hinchcliffe had a great corner but his all-round game had nothing on Baines. I agree Watson over Distin. It would be a close call, Limpar over Pienaar, but for the fact that Pienaar is much more consistent. Southall was past his best and no better that Howard is now. The rest of the current first team is massively superior and we actually have a squad when fully fit (admittedly not very often).

The 95 team actually won something; however, as a team we are far better now.
Dennis Stevens
24   Posted 05/11/2010 at 01:29:51

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Clearly the overall quality of the squad is now better than it was then. However, if we had a time machine, there are some players who would improve the current squad & probably at least a couple who would challenge for a first team place.

Nonetheless we shouldn't downplay the players' performance under Joe Royle, not least because he never lost a Derby match!

I must also point out that Simon Jenkins's critique of the League performance in 94-95 merits further comment. When Royle took over from Walker, Everton had just 9 points from the first 14 matches, form that would have equated to 27 points over the season & left us equal bottom with Ipswich Town.

Under Royle, Everton gained a further 41 points from the remaining 28 games, which would have equated to 61.5 points over the whole season & had us finishing in 8th place. So the League form under Royle was pretty consistent from his appointment through to the end of the 95-96 season.

Gary Sedgwick
25   Posted 05/11/2010 at 02:08:44

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Don't forget, we won the MLS All Star Trophy a couple of seasons ago........ :-)
Eric Myles
26   Posted 05/11/2010 at 02:23:54

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Nathan #11, agreed the current crop would give the '85 team a go but I think the '85 team would sneak a 1-0 win, after all they're all in their 50s now.
Jay Harris
27   Posted 05/11/2010 at 03:48:43

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They weren't called the "Dogs of War" for nothing.

The only players from that squad that would get anywhere near this squad are big Nev, Joe Parkinson and Kanchelskis.

You might make an argument for Graham Stuart replacing Tiny but IMO this squad is the best since 1987.
Michael Kenrick
28   Posted 05/11/2010 at 04:24:49

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Dennis (#23) ? that is such a great stat about Joe Royle's management that I have never seen published before. Fantastic. Such a pity it went tits up for him later on...
Andrew Fair
29   Posted 05/11/2010 at 08:39:53

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Gaz! Typical old age Toffeewebber! Always going back to the old days! Get a grip! Everton were poor back then but won a cup, anyone can fluke a cup (Pompey a couple of years ago).

We now have 7 or 8 quality players that other teams want in their teams. We are a threat to most teams ? maybe Chelsea aside. This is definitely the best team we have had for many years and that shows in consistent top-eight finishes. One cup and a top 6 finish does not make them a better team than today's. Now go and watch another re run of Dad's Army or Last of the Summer Wine...

Ray Robinson
30   Posted 05/11/2010 at 08:35:00

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Kanchelskis in his first season was superb. In his second, as his alleged financial difficulties mushroomed, he was awful as I recall. I remember actually booing him against Bradford City in the Cup when he patently wasn't trying.

As for the teams, the current squad would beat Joe Royle's team quite comfortably in my opinion. Football has moved on hugely since then. Despite the changes though, I reckon the mid-eighties team would give them more than a game!

Never underestimate Joe Royle's team though. After a disastrous start under Walker, they were actually one of the most consistent teams in the league.
Duncan McDine
31   Posted 05/11/2010 at 09:25:00

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Gaz, you're probably correct in your assumption that the current squad isn't the best sice 84/85, but you've picked the wrong period of 94-96!!!! Ok, we won the FA Cup with our Dogs of War, but the current crop are a better team no doubt.

I believe we are in the best shape since late 80s, but certainly no better than the 86, 87, 88 and possibly 89-90 team. How can we be better now than the title winning team in 86-87???
David S Shaw
32   Posted 05/11/2010 at 09:35:52

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The 86 team was good, and the 87 team.

Just because of how the 86 season ended it does not mean they weren't a good team.
Norman Merrill
33   Posted 05/11/2010 at 12:58:42

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Good shout, Gaz, But you have just opened one of our biggest can of worms for ages.

I am comfortable with all the players mentioned, as I am old enough to comment on the late 50s onwards. But it still brings back great memories of the players of yesteryear.

Mike Allison
34   Posted 05/11/2010 at 13:23:41

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Initial thoughts: Baines over Hinchcliffe all day every day, it's not even close. Rideout would be behind Yakubu and Saha, Unsworth c.94-96 was better than Watson (he got selected for England remember, don't be blinded by his deterioration later on).

Overall, there's no comparison, the current team are way, way better. I think they'd win 2-0 or 3-0 if they could keep Kanchelskis quiet. Our current team is crying out for Kanchelskis, otherwise I wouldn't have anyone else I don't think, except possibly Southall, and the core of the team, the central midfield, practically play a different sport to Horne, Ebbrell and Parkinson (who, don't get me wrong, are all heroes in their own way, but lack the quality of Arteta, Fellaini, Rodwell and even Cahill).

ps: Must mention, Pienaar over Limpar all day every day as well.
Ian Campbell
35   Posted 05/11/2010 at 13:30:54

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From the squad listed in point #5, I can say that really you'd only take Southall (at his peak) & Kanchelskis in first 11 and maybe have Limpar on the bench with Ferguson who could be decent to bring on if behind late on.

I don't think that Watson has the athleticism of Distin or Yobo and would struggle in today's game.

Back to the original point: you can't compare Joe Royle's success with Moyes's, there are far better teams currently (Chelsea, Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, City, Villa, us) than there were back then!
Mark Stone
36   Posted 05/11/2010 at 13:58:58

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Good point about Kanchelskis, Ray. I think I remember him laying Burnley's Chris Waddle off nicely to chip Southall from distance in one cup game. He really didn't give a shit about Everton at that point.

Today's Everton are streets ahead of the team of the mid-90s. Admittedly I'd have Joe Parkinson in any team of any Everton generation ever.

Christopher McCullough
37   Posted 05/11/2010 at 15:07:09

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From Joe Royle's team I'd place Southall, Limpar and Kanchelskis into the current fully fit starting 11. Out go Howard, Pienaar and Osman.

Hintchliffe and Ferguson would make the squad, probably.
Anthony Millington
38   Posted 05/11/2010 at 15:06:46

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I think the team we had a couple of years ago is better than this one. We used to win convincingly against poor teams and keep lots of clean sheets with Jags and Lescott at the back and Carsley in front of the back four who we have never really replaced. We also had Arteta and Yakubu in better shape before their injuries and an outlet upfront in Andy Johnson and another class midfielder with Manny Fernandes on loan.

The season I'm talking about is they year we unluckily got knocked out by Fiorentina on penalties, finished 5th in the league and got to the Semi Final of the Carling Cup. We've stalled since then in my opinion, partly down to both our lack of investment and the money Moyes has spent on players like Bilyaletdinov, Fellaini, Distin and Heitinga (who was bought as a right back, is now playing midfield when it is clear to everyone he is a centre back!)

Christopher McCullough
39   Posted 05/11/2010 at 15:29:48

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You make a good case Anthony #37. I agree that Fernandes, Johnson and Carsley were very effective and, to differing extents, have been missed.

However, in the new context of today's squad I think that the overall strengths and weaknesses create an average level of quality that is slightly higher than a few years ago. This quality has yet to swim to the surface for various reasons.

Fellaini and Arteta, because of consistent coincedental injuries, still haven't formed an effective partnership. I suppose Bily and Coleman will have to wait until Cahill and Neville retire before they fully develop their talents and, hopefully, command a starting place.

Rodwell will emerge as a world class player.

Of course you're right about Heitinga. My fear is that he and Pienaar will leave simultaneously.
Neil Vaughan
40   Posted 05/11/2010 at 15:58:21

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Think its an insult that any of the above (1995 or 2010) are being mentioned in comparison with possibly the BEST side EVER to wear the famous old shirt.... The 85-87 sides would destroy both of them ? IMO of course
Eugene Ruane
41   Posted 05/11/2010 at 16:41:34

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Just an observation.

There are many player-by-player comparisons being made to justify the present squad as being better.

A mistake in my opinion.

For most of my life Spurs have bought 'good players' yet have not come near winning a title.

Yet if you had compared Spurs to Everton at the start of 84 - 85, many (player by player) would have gone for Spurs (myself included probably).

Fact is TEAMS win things, great players only do if their part of a team.

Consequently, who is 'better' than who doesn't work for me

Being the best team won us titles in 85 and 87 - not having 'the best' players.

Just an opinion.

Dave Roberts
42   Posted 05/11/2010 at 18:10:33

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Quite right. In my opinion only Southall could have been awarded the title of 'world class'. The eighties sides were totally about the team ethic and the entirety being greater than the sum of the parts.

Nevertheless there were some 'great' players in their own right. Bracewell to name but one....Trevor Steven another. But none of them instantly recognizable as great players on a world stage.
Dave Roberts
43   Posted 05/11/2010 at 18:16:29

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Difficult one, Neil!

The 84-87 lads were certainly the most consistently successful and that's a good reason for considering them as the best ever... but the 62-63 team were some team too and the best football I have ever seen Everton teams play was between 67 and 70... the era of the holy trinity.

I still have (somewhere) a whole back page from the People newspaper which I framed after one game in 1968. The whole page was taken up by the headline (in 3-inch black letters)...


They were truly a great side.
Dave Roberts
44   Posted 05/11/2010 at 18:26:28

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In fact Google Vimeo and on there there's 20 minutes of a match between Everton and Man Utd from 1967. We tore them apart and beat them 3-1. A few months afterwards, they were European Champions. Bobby Charlton said after that game that Everton were the best team he had ever played against.

Sigh... those were the days!
Richard Osborne
45   Posted 05/11/2010 at 18:48:51

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Joe Royle leaving was one of the most disastrous things to happen to Everton in the last 30 years.

When he was in charge, he had us changing from stuggling to challenging at just the right time. Some may argue, myself included that 1996 was the last chance before football in the UK started to lean more toward the 'money-men' and the gulf between the 'have's' and 'have-not's' became so noticeable.

Had Royle been allowed by the board, to invest a reasonably modest amount (even by standards at the time), on Tore Andre Flo and Claus Lundekvam - who both went on to have decent careers in England - I think Everton would have gone from strength to strength. Who knows where we might have ended up.

Yet, like so many times before and since, the board dropped the ball and we have been left in obscurity ever since.
David Price
46   Posted 05/11/2010 at 19:40:21

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Yes Richard, Joe was fighting his chairman for support. I always found Joe to be a tactically positive manager who had a go and changed things early in a game. With the right backing he could have easily stayed through till the Moyes era began.

Watching the Stoke game, what struck me is our aimless corner taking. The delivery seems to be lobbed into the box, with no-one looking like powering a header in.

We can't rely on a naff RS heading one out to Mikel every week. It was then I remembered Hinchcliffe's corners. The best left footer since Sheedy, strangley though, did Andy ever score for us?

Great debate.

Ray Robinson
47   Posted 05/11/2010 at 20:59:36

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Mark #35, that was the same game that I was talking about. Cup game vs Bradford: Kanchelskis couldn't give a shit ? and, in one single afternoon, destroyed a legend.
Dean Adams
48   Posted 05/11/2010 at 20:56:27

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David Price

Andy Hinchcliffe played over 200 games for us and scored on 9 occasions, acccording to the OS anyway!!

I would always pick big Nev in any Everton side of the 90's and as mentioned by others Kanchelskis and Parkinson would feature in my 18 man match day squad. Limpar, Ferguson and Unsworth would be in the running too.
Alun Willis
49   Posted 05/11/2010 at 23:25:25

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Could I add Daniel Amokachi to the debate? That'll be a "no" then! Oh well, I used to like his unpredictability and could certainly see him adding the attacking mix today (given the training conditioning etc and so forth).
Guy Hastings
50   Posted 05/11/2010 at 23:25:50

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Post-match pint for pint, you'd have to take the old lags.
Peter Dry
51   Posted 06/11/2010 at 12:41:25

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If my memory serves me right, when we beat Man U in the 95 cup final, their two best players weren't playing - Kanchelskis and Cantona.
John Daley
52   Posted 07/11/2010 at 03:01:25

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The 95 Semi-Final v Spurs is probably the best Everton performance of the last twenty years and certainly my personal favourite. They then managed to build on this by beating a very good Utd team in the final and actually winning the trophy. Something I don't think the current crop of players are capable of.

In the big games, when the pressure is on and the result is of real significance, Everton under David Moyes have consistently failed to deliver. Until they actually land a trophy they can't be lauded as anything other than also-rans.
Derek Thomas
53   Posted 07/11/2010 at 05:30:52

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If, as someone said, Royle had stayed on AND got the backing.
We maybe wouldn't 've got to the state where Moyes looked so good but only in comparison to Walter, we are getting into proper Harry Turtledove territory now.

Big Nev of 95 was a better keeper than Howard is now.

For whatever reason, Catterick's lack of vision (Young and Ball gone too soon)and or ill health, Kendall getting lucky (Mike England in the directors box on boxing day and getting a full season out of those up to then perrenial sicknotes Reid
Sheedy and Gray) the selling of Lineker and then not getting the Barca job. The Board's average performance over 40yrs where average was their high point.

We don't do Dynasties.

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