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.
Reader Comments (47)
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1 Posted 27/11/2014 at 16:53:16
2 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:23:54
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!
3 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:35:33
4 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:48:04
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"
5 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:47:40
6 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:55:08
7 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:57:30
8 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:02:26
9 Posted 27/11/2014 at 20:59:32
10 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:11:27
11 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:12:41
Going to top teams and believing we can win.
Roberto gives us both.
12 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:16:49
13 Posted 27/11/2014 at 21:26:24
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.
14 Posted 27/11/2014 at 22:00:47
15 Posted 28/11/2014 at 09:45:10
So yes, I think Mick Lyons was a wonderful servant to the club Â– 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 Â– 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).
16 Posted 28/11/2014 at 10:08:02
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.
17 Posted 28/11/2014 at 20:09:10
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!
18 Posted 28/11/2014 at 20:45:58
Phil, I won't argue with you about Big Joe and Lukaku at the same age but Rom will be 3Â¾ the player that Royle was. Mark my words.
19 Posted 28/11/2014 at 20:56:21
Let's hope the fates treat Rom more kindly.
20 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:10:49
Joe did have bad luck in his career but I loved him when he was at Everton.
21 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:00:32
My hero was Alex Young Â– 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 Â– 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!
22 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:18:35
23 Posted 28/11/2014 at 21:49:47
Young overall wasnÂt 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 Â– especially away from home. ThatÂs 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.
24 Posted 29/11/2014 at 06:05:56
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.
25 Posted 29/11/2014 at 07:59:27
But that first touch and his movement was unsurpassable! And Roy Vernon...........
26 Posted 29/11/2014 at 08:19:36
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 Â– and sorry, Martinez detractors, the best manager since those cup-winning teams.
27 Posted 29/11/2014 at 08:40:19
28 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:01:21
29 Posted 29/11/2014 at 08:50:54
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!!!
30 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:05:15
31 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:12:23
32 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:13:47
A good response to PatrickÂs question and I agree with all that you write, especially the part of us buying trophies Â– there is no way I would like Everton to be part of that.
And to people who say John MooresÂs money bought us trophies, IÂd say he gave us interest free loans but never gave us the millions that have been poured into Chelsea and Man City.
33 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:25:58
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.
34 Posted 29/11/2014 at 09:55:44
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.
35 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:04:11
I can smell a cup coming this season.
36 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:03:50
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.
37 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:22:42
38 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:31:54
39 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:06:07
Going back a bit further, add in Ray Wilson and controversially perhaps one of the most complete players of all, Tony Kay Â– 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?
40 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:22:00
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 Â– 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 Â– 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 Â– 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.
41 Posted 29/11/2014 at 11:08:45
Fuckin' hopeless this Martinez fella.
42 Posted 29/11/2014 at 10:10:43
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.
43 Posted 29/11/2014 at 11:27:45
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?
44 Posted 29/11/2014 at 11:38:00
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-
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 Â– 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.
45 Posted 29/11/2014 at 16:52:47
46 Posted 29/11/2014 at 16:26:06
47 Posted 29/11/2014 at 17:50:38
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