In a recent interview in which Landon Donovan explained why he wasn't able to join Everton on a permanent basis, he went on to say that David Moyes totally understood the Evertonians and what they wanted to see from their team. He also cited an un-named former Toffee player who is supposed to have told Landon that as long as you run around and give your all, the Goodison faithful would accept you as one of their own.

This got me thinking as to what is it that Evertonians require or expect from their team and individual players?

When I first started watching Everton on a regular basis in the mid 1970s as a youngster I always believed that the best Everton players were those such as Martin Dobson or Colin Todd, all elegance and skill and able to provide those special moments in a game, with either a fine tackle or a venomous shot. Then there were the players such as Duncan McKenzie and Imre Varadi who could provide the unexpected moments of magic even if their mostly erratic play would frustrate their managers but often delight the supporters. Various other players such as Andy King, Dave Thomas, and Bob Latchford et al carried the mantle of being Everton players in the finest tradition throughout the remainder of the late 70s and very early 80s.

Evertonians then had a team to be proud of in the mid 80s as Kevin Sheedy and Trevor Steven worked their magic and were backed up with a world class goalkeeper and stubborn defence and topped off with very good strikers such as Gray, Heath, Sharp and Lineker not to mention the engine room of Bracewell and Reid. That was a fantastic time to watch the Blues but arguably there wasn't an individual player who would set the pulses racing with an individual performance such as Alan Ball or Alex Young had provided in the 1960s. That may be a tad harsh on the likes of ‘Sheeds’ and Tricky Trevor but by and large all of the players during that most successful spell in Everton's history were first and foremost team players.

The sharp decline then provided many workmanlike players and specialists who worked as hard as most Everton teams but provided little in the way of genuine excitemen. Stuart McCall divided opinion for his abilities but his work ethic was never in doubt, Norman Whiteside and Ian Snodin were fine players but were beset by terrible injuries and were never able to reach the heights that their footballing abilities merited. Further forward, Cottee was a poor man's Lineker and Mike Newell never seemed to fit into the team even when he was scoring goals for fun. Pat Nevin was probably more skilful than Trevor Steven but he lacked the consistency to make himself truly special.

Peter Beagrie and Robert Warzycha were even more erratic than their predecessors McKenzie and Varadi while Peter Beardsley was a beacon of light in a gloomy period for the Toffees. As well as being a natural footballer, Peter had a football brain and talent to match. Beardsley was player who provided the unexpected and who worked extremely hard to try and drag the Blues up to his own high standards.

During Joe Royle's tenure, another good Everton side emerged and once again footballers with real skill could be seen at Goodison Park. Anders Limpar, Andy Hinchcliffe, Andrei Kanchelskis, Graham Stuart among those who provided moments of magic, aided and abetted by Goodison folk-hero Duncan Ferguson, and they played in an era when Everton actually won a trophy at Wembley.

The Moyes team provided many good moments and good players, with Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, Yakubu, Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman all providing good moments and good memories but none of them could reach the heights that other Everton players had reached in the past. Once again it wasn't due to a lack of application but, arguably, none had the total skillset to be consistently regarded as special players, with the possible exception of Cahill who performed far and above his skill level and played with a passion and determination that endeared him to the Evertonians. A certain young player did have the necessary skills to have the Evertonians in raptures but he emerged at the most inopportune moment in Everton's history and it could be argued by some that he arrived just in the nick of time.

Wayne Rooney was and is a very, very, good footballer, perhaps not world class but one of the best English players ever to grace the game. He provided real moments of magic, breathtaking strikes, as well as audaciousness and a football brain beyond his years but his Everton career was all too brief, just as the Everton supporters were getting used to the idea of having a 'proper' footballer in their team he was gone and plying his trade elsewhere.

So to Roberto's Everton squad, James McCarthy and Gareth Barry are talented in what they do but neither would have the Goodison Galleries regularly on the edge of their seats, that is not to say that both players are unappreciated by most Evertonians. Lukaku and Mirallas still have time to become the sort of footballers that Evertonians appreciate but there is some doubt that they will fulfil the promise that they both have shown in the last twelve to eighteen months. John Stones and Ross Barkley are perhaps the most likely to become those 'proper' footballers that Evertonians crave, but in these times of hard-cash talking ever more loudly, will the Goodison faithful get the chance to see them at their peak?

Aiden McGeady and Steven Pienaar can both show flashes of brilliance but both are lacking that certain something that would make them truly stand out, whilst Brian Oviedo and Seamus Coleman are very popular. and rightly so, but would they be remembered in twenty years time? I'm not sure, unless of course they happen to score the winning goal in a cup final.

In my opinion only Leighton Baines will definitely be held up in the future as a player who represents Everton in the traditional way – skilful, determined, unassuming, and a role model for any player to follow in this era or any other era.

I’m sure many Evertonians will have very different ideas as to what they want to see from an Everton player or team and it should be interesting to see what other ToffeeWeb posters have to say on the question.

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Reader Comments (47)

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Micky Norman
1 Posted 27/11/2014 at 16:53:16
What do we want? It's simple for me, a trophy. Preferably with a team that regularly beats the Sky favourites and plays the sort of football we showed against Arsenal and Man Utd last season.
Tony Abrahams
2 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:23:54
Winners Patrick, hard workers with a touch of class.

McCarthy's engine, Reid's strength and drive, Steven's ability to beat a man, Sheedy's passing range, Watson's heart, Ratcliffe's pace and the bravery of Andy Grey!

Seen some shite down the years, but also seen some great too. I think this is the best squad since 1986, and alls we need now is for them to develop into WINNERS!

Brian Garside
3 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:35:33
Agree Patrick. We are of the same era. All huff and puff is not our way. I too long for the midfield general in the Dobsen mould. I see Stones as a Todd type of player. What I really miss is a Dave Thomas type of winger.
Peter Bell
4 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:48:04
ColinTodd, now he was some player.
Brian, I see the similarities with Stones too.
The same ability to read the game, the ability to spot danger early and the composure on the ball.
As Cloughie said in the Damned United.
"The mighty Colin Todd"
Dean Adams
5 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:47:40
I seem to remember another great player from the 90’s Patrick, who unfortunately is no longer with us. He became a great manager for Wales before ending his life early. For me Gary Speed was the shinning light of that time. The team of the mid 80’s was just sublime. Hope we reach those heights again soon.
Patrick Murphy
6 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:55:08
Dean - good shout mate - I shouldn't have overlooked him, but it was just a quick run-down of those players that stood out for me personally and for many other Blues. Yes Gary Speed certainly deserves to be remembered as a fine footballer and especially today of all days as it is three years since his sad demise.
Dean Adams
7 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:57:30
Patrick. Yes, 3 years today. That was a sad day, just nice to win like we did today. Nice tribute to a true great.
Peter Bell
8 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:02:26
Gary Speed, should have captained Everton for years, and he would have loved to.
Colin Glassar
9 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:59:32
Great post, Patrick, but I think you might be a bit harsh on our current crop of players. I've been watching Everton ever since the days of the Holy Trinity so I've seen greatness and utter crapness in my time. This team, under Roberto, are on the right track. I'm excited if I'm honest. We are close, and getting closer.
Peter Bell
10 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:11:27
Colin, was Alex Young's first touch as good as my dad says it was?
Paul Andrews
11 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:12:41
Our pride back.

Going to top teams and believing we can win.

Roberto gives us both.

Brent Stephens
12 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:16:49
Peter, Alex Young's touch was silky smooth – if the ball had had a nervous system, it wouldn't have known it had been touched.
Sue Brown
13 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:26:24
Brent, I would also add "poetry in motion" whenever The Golden Vision had the ball, it was like he was gliding over the pitch magically.

Agree with you Patrick on Bainsey, a stalwart who just gets on with the job quietly and reliably and who is blue through and through.

Brent Stephens
14 Posted 27/11/2014 at 22:00:47
Sue Alex Young "gliding over the pitch". Yes, nice description. I was going to call him a "floater" but that has connotations with a healthy poo (sounds more Gerard-like).
David Ellis
15 Posted 28/11/2014 at 09:45:10
I think we are very accepting of those that try hard - Naismith is an prime example. But what I really admire in a player is skill and loyalty.

So yes, I think Mick Lyons was a wonderful servant to the club – a decent player, a big heart, a one-club man. But greatness requires something more... sublime skill over a decent period of time, and playing in a team that wins things. The 1985 team was referred to by the press, at least initially, as a team without stars – but they were a team of real winners and comfortably the best in the country that year; a pity they never got the chance to prove they were the best in Europe.

Bracewell remains my favourite all-time Everton player. Skill, workrate, consistency and bite. Robbed of greatness by an injury in 1986 and he was never the same again. I am sure England would have owned the World Cup in 86 had he been fit (and Everton the double).

Derek Thomas
16 Posted 28/11/2014 at 10:08:02
What do we want? Well, whatever it is, we want it NOW!

We want our 'skillful' players to be a bit harder, our 'hard' players to be a bit more skillful, our forwards to score more, our defenders to concede less, and a Southall Mk II in goal.

Oh, and a non-Mickey Mouse trophy per season.


Phil Walling
17 Posted 28/11/2014 at 20:09:10
Yes, Peter @10, Young's first touch was as good as anybody's dad says it was, believe me, and, notwithstanding 'Blackpool', Joe Royle was a better all-round centre-forward than Romelu is at the same age.

Patrick's article is an outstanding piece of work and I concur with all his nominations for 'greatness'. And I find it hard to fall out with many of the subsequent suggestions.

As far as today's players are concerned, Baines is certainly as good a left-back as I have seen here in 50 years and I have a sneaky feeling that Stones may have a more distinguished future than Barkley. Oh.... and I just wish, just wish, the best of the lot hadn't buggered off to Man Utd!

Colin Glassar
18 Posted 28/11/2014 at 20:45:58
Peter, the Golden Vision was slightly before my time so I think I only saw him (in the flesh) 2-3 times but I do remember him just waltzing past players. I can't remember his first touch but I do remember a sense of excitement whenever he had the ball.

Phil, I won't argue with you about Big Joe and Lukaku at the same age but Rom will be 3¾ the player that Royle was. Mark my words.

Phil Walling
19 Posted 28/11/2014 at 20:56:21
Colin, Joe would be the first to admit that his career stalled once his back condition took hold in 71-72. By the time he moved to Man City in '74, he was just a shadow of the player he had been as a youngster.

Let's hope the fates treat Rom more kindly.

Colin Glassar
20 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:10:49
I was going to say, injuries permitting, Phil.

Joe did have bad luck in his career but I loved him when he was at Everton.

John Keating
21 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:00:32
I started going regularly from the beginning of the 1960s. If you look at each manager since then, more or less they have had a mix of flair and grit.

My hero was Alex Young – absolute different class. A flair player without doubt but in that early team we had Gabriel and Harris who could sort it out! Stevens, the box-to-box workhorse.

In the '80s Van den Hauwe and Reid could sort it out with Bracewell box-to-box and Stevens the flair. Different eras have different players but more or less the various teams have a combination of types of players. Where things come to fruition is the managers ability to get the best out of his team.

I expect any Everton team to go out every game and be completely knackered come full-time, to give 100% for the shirt. I do not want particularly silky football – just a good mix.

What I do not want is a manager more focused on stats rather than results. I'd sooner get a late winner at Anfield after getting battered for 89 minutes rather than losing but having more possession!

Phil Walling
22 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:18:35
......and I'll say hurrah to that, John!
Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:49:47
If any one said to me that, on his day, Alex Young was a great, great player, they would get no argument from me.

Young overall wasn’t as good as he should have been. He had a god-given talent but never used it as much as he should have done. He needed to be motivated and on lots of days he could really disappoint you – especially away from home. That’s the main reason lots of fans preferred Roy Vernon.

Having said that, when Alex was good, he made you drool and was special to watch.

Andy McNabb
24 Posted 29/11/2014 at 06:05:56
And these are the sort of articles and discussion that makes this such a great website and me proud to be a Blue.

One of my earliest and most enduring memories of Everton is a picture of Alan Ball in the newspaper, carrying his boots over his shoulder and on his way to Arsenal.

Whatever we want, I would suggest a team full of similar players would achieve it for us.

Phil Walling
25 Posted 29/11/2014 at 07:59:27
Dave, I think it was just that trait in Alex that so frustrated Catterick. He demanded total effort and consistency over everything and for whatever reason he felt he didn't always get it from the Scotsman.

But that first touch and his movement was unsurpassable! And Roy Vernon...........

Gavin Johnson
26 Posted 29/11/2014 at 08:19:36
A great article, Patrick.

I was reading an article recently where Ricky Hatton said he missed the old Man City and preferred the club before the Arab investment. I can understand this to a certain degree.

There has been the suggestion we might have been bought rather than City if we had the green light to move to Kirby. And if I'm totally honest, I'm glad this rumour never became a reality. Of course I'd have welcomed investment but I wouldn't have wanted us to effectively buy a Championship and be playing in a soulless stadium, which is what would have happened if this rumour had come to pass.

So it makes me ask myself: What I do want from our current squad? And it would just be to win a trophy, under our modest financial constraints. It would be the validation that was missing under the previous regime. While we had some good players like Arteta and Cahill, I don't think they'll go down in the club's history as legends, because they never won anything.

Out of the current crop, the full backs would get into any Everton team I've been watching since I was an 8-year-old who started supporting us in the 85-86 season. I also think Lukaku, Barkley and Stones could become some of the very best not just in the EPL, but the World if they fulfil their huge potential. I think we have the best team – and sorry, Martinez detractors, the best manager since those cup-winning teams.

Ajay Gopal
27 Posted 29/11/2014 at 08:40:19
Phil (#17) "As far as today's players are concerned, Baines is certainly as good a left-back as I have seen here in 50 years". Are you forgetting he is ex-Wigan?? :-)
Brent Stephens
28 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:01:21
I haven't had time to read all the posts (as they say) since the 1966 FA Cup Final, but just back from that game (as they also say) and I thought Young wasn't as good as his brilliant best in that game.
Tony Abrahams
29 Posted 29/11/2014 at 08:50:54
With that in mind Andy, what is the best performance that people have seen in an Everton shirt?

Southall at Sheffield Wednesday in the '85 season, but I wasn't actually at the game and had to make do with the MotD highlights.

Whilst Peter Reid, will always be my favourite, the performance I remember most is Rooney, against Bolton at Goodison. I remember seeing his parents after the game and being very tempted in telling them to go home and get to bed!!!

Phil Walling
30 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:05:15
.....and so is McCarthy and I rate him highly. The rest should have stayed there although the manager is growing on me now that he's become less one-dimensional, as indicated by his tactics on Thursday!
Gavin Johnson
31 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:12:23
Bloody hell, Phil, is that praise for Roberto... are you feeling okay?! Btw, I'm in total agreement of your summary of the other Wigan contingent minus McCarthy.
Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:13:47
Gavin Johnson,

A good response to Patrick’s question and I agree with all that you write, especially the part of us buying trophies – there is no way I would like Everton to be part of that.

And to people who say John MooresÂ’s money bought us trophies, IÂ’d say he gave us interest free loans but never gave us the millions that have been poured into Chelsea and Man City.

Anto Byrne
33 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:25:58
Under Moyes, we were plucky little Everton – not quite good enough... never that adventurous. Two games epitomise the Moyes reign: the Chelsea FA Cup Final and the semi-final against the Dark Side. Both occasions 1-0 up; and on both occasions we bottled it.

The new reign brings in a new philosophy and that is to play real football and win matches. Winning in Germany shows how far we have come in so short a time.

If we are going to have great players then they need to be able to play great football and Martinez has unshackled his players and suddenly we recognise Coleman as a superstar.

Andrew Clare
34 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:55:44
I want a team that had the class of' '63 and '70 and the success of the '80s.

I want a manager who 'bigs up' the club (we have him), like Catterick used to do. Whatever you want to use to measure how big a club is, Everton are a very big club. This will be evident when the next trophy arrives.

Above all, I want a top class side recognised by all.

Colin Glassar
35 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:04:11
Andrew, you should read Snodin's article in the Echo. Roberto has the best win % (first 50 games) since Catterick. We have won 50% of our games since Roberto took over which is way beyond what the doubters ever predicted. I suppose adding all our draws to that then he's definitely in the plus column and long may it continue.

I can smell a cup coming this season.

Brian Harrison
36 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:03:50
Good question: What do Evertonians want? I think most want the same thing – a winning team that plays good football. I am lucky enough to have seen most of the greats except Dean and Sagar, I think at the moment we have some very good players but no great players.

Someone said Baines was our best-ever left-back; I have to disagree... Ray Wilson was supreme, voted the best left-back in the World after the 1966 World cup. Young was an absolute dream to watch he had a wonderful first touch could shoot with either foot and was brilliant in the air. His partner Vernon was sharp and a great finisher both getting over 20 goals when they won the league.

Another player who impressed was Tony Kay, he could do everything. He ran the game from midfield and, despite all the hard men that played the game around that time, Kay was the hardest of them all. I don't think I ever saw him lose a 50-50 tackle and he was frightened of nobody, although I think many were very wary about tackling Tony.

Then before him was the brilliant Bobby Collins, four-foot nothing but was absolutely sublime, his passing was a joy to watch and how one so small could run the game was a mystery. Sadly we sold Bobby to Leeds and the following year he was voted PFA Player of the Year... Sorry for rambling on.

Tommy Coleman
37 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:22:42
I wan't/believe we can win the Europa League and finish at least 4th.
Peter Bell
38 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:31:54
I want Everton to be back where we belong, at the top, and I want RM to achieve his philosophy: "You don't need money to win the league, it just takes longer."
Peter Ashworth
39 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:06:07
Great post, Patrick. I agree with everything everybody's said on here. I have been watching the Blues since the late fifties and can join in on here now I've learnt to turn on and use this bundle of electronics! First post... here goes:

Going back a bit further, add in Ray Wilson and controversially perhaps one of the most complete players of all, Tony Kay – we were robbed of one of the true greats there! Alex Young? Fabulous talent to watch but so frustrating too. Alan Ball? The all-round perfect player and a true blue too. He also had the elusive ingredient: a certain edge and bite.

So most of the great team of the mid eighties qualify and someone very perceptively mentioned Paul Bracewell. Do we have another Peter Reid or Andy Gray somewhere in our locker?

Who are the couple of players missing to light the blue touch paper? A little bit of luck is not a bad thing to have as well.

Oh, and the manager! I'm warming to Roberto slowly but can he be the Brian Clough we never had?Rambling and dreaming a bit now so COYB — Give us what we want!

Laurie Hartley
40 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:22:00
Brian and Peter,

Couldn't agree more with you about Tony Kay. In fact I think he is the best footballer I have seen pull on a blue shirt – he just gets the nod from me in front of Alan Ball.

If you want to talk about first touch, the footballer that comes to mind to me is Johnny Morrisey.

Greatness – I reckon John Stones is a very special footballer; apart from his natural talent, his temperament is what will take him to the captaincy of Everton and then England.

Last but not least – what do I want, Patrick? From the players, to leave nothing on the park after each game. Plus, for Christmas, I would like the whole squad fit and available. If we can get that, we will run riot in the New Year.

I think we might even get 3 points at White Heart Lane tomorrow. Confidence is high.

Up the Blues.

Paul Andrews
41 Posted 29/11/2014 at 11:08:45
The best win percentage in his first 50 games since Harry Catterick.

Fuckin' hopeless this Martinez fella.

Derek Thomas
42 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:10:43
I'm not having that Young was lazy, he blew hot and cold sometimes and he was the first to say it, but so did Ronaldo and many of the big names in the last World Cup. Check (Vimeo?) out – his contribution in the first game of the 67-68 season vs Man U... tackling back at both LB and RB and then chesting the ball down a couple of yards outside the area, beats 3 men and crashes an unstopable shot into the net. All this versus the then Champions and future European Cup winners.

Royle was brilliant... while his body held up, but effectively a spent force at 24. It won't have done Rom any harm to have played his way in as a sub for WBA.

Ray Roche
43 Posted 29/11/2014 at 11:27:45
Colin Glassar @35,

Colin, I didn't realise that Martinez had such a record, however, both he and Catterick took over teams with a nucleus of excellent players. Catterick took over Carey's side full of brilliance and potential and Martinez took over Moyes's team with Barkley, Stones, Jagielka, Coleman, Baines, Mirallas etc. True, he has added Lukaku and McCarthy to the mix but he had a head start, don't you think?

Chris Williams
44 Posted 29/11/2014 at 11:38:00
There have been a few threads recently about the teams of the 60s, and the unsung hero that was Catterick. I'm getting the book for a Christmas present and looking forward to it.

It's true that he inherited some cracking players from Carey, and that was regularly commented on at the time, but he added steel and organisation to the skill and flair and created a great team. He then created another team, transitional between the early and late 60s, that got to two FA Cup Finals, winning one and being kicked off the park in the other. Then the Champions full of young players that should have been dominant for 5 years at least. Sadly it was not to be. But it was great to be an Evertonian then. Heady times indeed.

My own top players are still-
Roy Vernon
Colin Harvey
Alan Ball
Alex Young
Tony Kay
Neville Southall
Brian Labone
Andre Kanchelskis
Bobby Collins
Ray Wilson

On Tony Kay, for me he was a class above Howard Kendall even, he was really that good, and would have been a World Cup winner as he was just breaking into the England team when he was locked up.

As an old fart now, I see reminders of him in James McCarthy. I don't think it's just the red hair.

Just as now, Everton never received the credit they deserved from the media, so Catterick, the players, the club were all relatively unsung.

These days, the media attempt to sell off our finest – a sort of praise I suppose, but I hope to see Everton back up there again under Roberto, who seems to get Everton, and wants to build a legacy. I'd love to see my new grandson watching something like I watched, and being able to write something like this in 70 years time.

Ray Roche
45 Posted 29/11/2014 at 16:52:47
Chris, if Catterick had been a bit more media savvy and not banned the TV cameras and some aspects of the press from Goodison, there would be a lot more quality film of those great sides and the media would have been a bit more on our side. Shankly was the master of using the media to his own ends.
Sue Brown
46 Posted 29/11/2014 at 16:26:06
Laurie, you talk of John Stones's greatness and (hopefully) future captaincy. Have to agree there, his calm confident play at the back is reminiscent of a past captain. Maybe we have another Corinthian in the making.
Andrew Clare
47 Posted 29/11/2014 at 17:50:38
Brian (#36), I agree Ray Wilson was the best left back I have ever seen. Pure class and a great tackler.

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