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Alan Ball and the World Cup Final 1966

by   |   13/07/2014  Comments (44)  jump

The England Team of 1966 had a very rare talent in Alan Ball. The deft back-heel and side flick, an innate ability to beat his man and create space. We would be looking at the £100 million price tag in today's silly money...

Having just watched a full replay of the 1966 World Cup Final, I came to the conclusion that England were not as technically gifted as the German side. So, in almost 50 years, nothing much has really changed for England. The Germans however have moved to a different level altogether.

I noticed in the '66 Final there was a lot of hoof-ball as players got behind the ball. Even Geoff Hurst's third goal came from a massive up-field punt from Bobby Moore. The game was played in a true old-fashioned sporting style and there was no going down in the box looking for a penalty. Sir Bobby Charlton had two real shouts but just got on with the game.

The referee was given a lot of respect that I was in awe. Even by 1966 standards Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles were typical dinosaurs: no finesse, all blood and guts. Watching the game is like a history lesson from a bygone era. Unfortunately the England side is still caught in that time warp.

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Tony Page
1 Posted 13/07/2014 at 16:44:11
How many of the 1966 team would cut it in the Premier League today?

Could Jack Charlton be a top centre half? Would Norbert "Nobby" Styles be a first name on the team sheet for Man Utd?

Roger Hunt kept the brilliant Jimmy Greaves out of Ramsey's team, could he get in the RS squad?

Surely Ray Wilson would still be class for Everton.

And was the 1966 team better than the 2014?

Ray Roche
2 Posted 13/07/2014 at 17:40:20
Tony, I firmly believe that the stars of yesterday, given the diet, fitness coaching, and welfare afforded to today's players, would be every bit as good as today's Nancy Boy whingers. The only area where there is a vast difference, in my opinion, is goalkeeping where today's keepers are more athletic and scientific in their approach than at any time in footballing history. I had this sort of argument with a Manc some years ago when I remarked that great players from the 1960's and before would still be great players today, given the same benefits, and he said that no-one would be anywhere near as good as Ronaldo and even a team of today's squad players would walk the League back then.
"Oh", says I, "So George Best wasn't as good as people say, then"? (this stumped him!) "And don't forget, when Styles, Hunter and Bremner etc. are hoofing you into the stand and you're STILL coming back for more and not lying down pleading with the ref" etc. etc.

It made for quite an interesting debate, would today's stars be able to cut it back then and vice versa? Well? Would they?.

Paul Andrews
3 Posted 13/07/2014 at 17:58:23
Of course they would.
As you say the benefits of diet,sport science etc allied to the natural ability would mean they could play the modern game.
Same for boxers.

Adrian,if you think the pass Moore played to Hurst was a massive punt you better take another look

Tony Draper
4 Posted 13/07/2014 at 18:30:50
Alan Ball would be beyond price today.

Bloody tireless, box to box, tidy, he never tackled.... he just "took possession", bloody hell Bally would win in the PL in our present squad.

Ray Wilson ? Another worth over 㿞M in todays monopoly money.

England 1966 ALL had something that for the main part today's "fancy dans" have no concept of

Relentless determination.

The '66ers and many more played in "workies boots" in soggy pitches with a casey that weighed more than a modern day prima donnas handbag !

Pick a world XI today and England '66 would have em finished by half time.

TBH Everton 1970 would see off any of the semi finalists in the 2014 World Cup.

This tournament may have been spellbinding during the group and round of 16 stages, but the 3rd/4th and final places are stunningly uninteresting. I really can't see Boregentina and Dullschtland as a classic final. Despite the 7-1 rout of surely the least Brasilian squad ever !

Dick Brady
5 Posted 13/07/2014 at 19:02:04
He was a Blackpool player during the 1966 World Cup right? Ray Wilson was the only Everton player in the starting 11, right?
Patrick Murphy
6 Posted 13/07/2014 at 19:25:52
You are correct on both points Dick! I can't see where anybody claims anything different!
Jakob Herd
7 Posted 14/07/2014 at 01:34:28
Adrian,

I also watched this recently and came to much the same conclusion. Though the football was different and players had more space, the noticeable difference was the 'never give up' attitude of the England players unlike our current crop of "though we lost most games we learnt a lot" attitude.

As mentioned, with nutrition and modern training, these players would step into any team (with the biased exception of Roger Hunt, that is).

Ray Roche
8 Posted 14/07/2014 at 07:37:13
Come on now Jakob, whether Hunt played for the Dark Side or not, he was a very good footballer with an excellent scoring record. I wish we had someone as good as he was.
David Ellis
9 Posted 14/07/2014 at 07:49:41
The best players of old would generally do fine nowadays with the same fitness and training etc. But a few would suffer because the style and rules have changed a bit. Jack Charlton may not have been quite as effective if he was picking up yellow cards every match and if he was required to kick the ball rather than people. Other players may suffer for lack of pace which was less exposed back then. Also the old fashioned No.9s like Bob Latchford or John Toshack may not work in the modern 5-3-1-1 formation as they probably are not mobile enough (although the Latch was great at holding the ball up). Michael Owen, a far more recent striker, became redundant as the pure poaching role disappeared.

At international level overall quality may not have improved so much - but there is no doubt that the standard of Premier League teams now is far superior to the old First Division, and so yes the current Everton team would have been a stand out side in the 1970s. The reason is that the Premier League is now one of two or three world leagues and a large proportion of the best players play here. So instead of Ronaldo there would have been Eusebio playing for Man U. Maybe Cryuff would play for Liverpool with Keegan as understudy... and so on.

Also now there is a bigger pool of talent globally as the population has doubled and a whole generation of African players are now able to play professionally which was not the case until the late 80s.

Anto Byrne
10 Posted 14/07/2014 at 08:24:04
Hey Paul, youÂ’re correct, what a pass, what vision. Bobby Moore was always class and would be my England captain in any era. In fact Moore, Ball and Banks, Bobby Charlton would be walk-ins in this modern era.
Brian Foley
11 Posted 14/07/2014 at 08:40:46
Tony no 1 Geoff Hurst replaced Greaves NOT Roger Hunt you've fallen in line with what is a popular misconception. Jakob no 7 tut tut Ray no 8 is right by the way if we could have had just 2 people ever from them I would have chosen Shankly and Hunt with his haul of 245 goals in tow.
Colin Glassar
12 Posted 14/07/2014 at 08:47:58
The choice of Nobby Styles (over Alan Mullery?) was key to us winning the cup. Styles job was to break up the opponents play and scrap for every ball which he did to perfection. This allowed the likes of Bally to have the freedom to be all over the pitch
Sir Alf chose HIS team for the final and by leaving our media darlings, Mullery and Greaves, he incurred the wrath of the media who never forgave him after that.
Derek Thomas
13 Posted 14/07/2014 at 07:54:58

I agree in principle, but lets look closer.

The Coach; Sir Alf as he would be, the players all loved him, even if in NobbyÂ’s case he had to be gripped round the throat in the bogs before the final and reminded of the the fact... "You wonÂ’t let Alf down?... WILL YOU?"

Lets Quantum Leap Alf into into a modern day manager, say Moyes, or Big Sam. Even compared to them, heÂ’s still a bit of a dinosaur. Not a dummy by any means but things that even OFM takes as a given are just not dreamed of in his philosophy, Horatio, but we do stipulate that some advances are taken as a given, so yeah, AlfieÂ’s in as manager.

Keeper: Banks, say no more, sorted.

The Formation: It was nominally called 4-3-3 / Wingless Wonders, but it wasnÂ’t that at all; they had a flexible back 5. Stiles would sweep in front, doing a Carsley. Moore would sometimes drop into a sweeper behind the 3 or sometimes push forward alongside Nobby. The fullbacks Cohen and Wilson where early over-lappers but not too far, I mean it was 1966... Could Wilson have done a Baines? More than likely, and he could defend and tackle like a demon.

That leaves the middle to front 5. Stiles would move forward a bit to cover the space behind Charlton and Moore would take StilesÂ’s place minding the back 3. Peters and Ball would be the up and down box-to-boxerÂ’s only wide to give what width they could AND protect the space in front of the fullbacks. Hurst and Hunt were Lukaku and Naismith... add in work and run until you drop, or in BallÂ’s case donÂ’t. and you can see why they were successful. Hard as nails, no whiners, divers, biters. Work all day for each other and no little skill in key positions... Works for me. Nostalgia glasses giving me 20/20 vision? Well itÂ’s possible... but I donÂ’t think so.

Although it must be said that the 1970 Team were better man for man over the 22 players: Charlton was 4 years older and Beckenbaur was 4 years more experienced. Alf made his big (but seemingly correct at the time) cock-up, He took off Charlton to save his legs, which gave Beckenbaur room and freedom to push forward... and the rest is history. Italy awaited in the semi-final and The Immortal Brazilians, who only narrowly defeated England in the group stages. Although it must be said that the 1970 Team were better mSo who knows... But they Both would do much better than than the present mob, SemiÂ’s Minimum


Ray Roche
14 Posted 14/07/2014 at 09:00:27
David Ellis@9

David, some decent points you've made there, but, just as you say "Yes the current Everton team would have been a stand out side in the 1970s." – then, without a doubt, given the same diet etc., the Everton team of 69-70 would be Champions in this era just as they were then, all things being equal.

And also, if today's players were taken back to those days and those rules, how far would they go with their girly squeals after every tackle? I think Ronaldo and his ilk would have to adapt just as much as Latchford....

As you say, with the influx of so many foreign players the whole aspect of football has changed, and those of us who saw Eusebio play in the flesh, so to speak, appreciate that he would make the transition with ease, as would Pele, Garrincha or Jairzihno but so would most of the other good/great players of that era.

Tony Page
15 Posted 14/07/2014 at 10:28:53
Oops, sorry Brian. Yes, I know Hurst replaced Greaves, my mistake, but it would have been a better team with Greaves in instead of Hunt (I hate the RS).
Paul Burns
16 Posted 14/07/2014 at 12:53:09
Disagree 100%. As I've said in another thread, there is no guarantee that any of yesteryears greats could play at todays pace with the fitness and athletism required.

Its easy playing football and doing tricks and great moves at your own pace or what you think of as fast but step up a few levels and your lost.

There is more to it than diet and nutrition and coaching methods. Ronaldo would have scored 30 a game from the 50s backwards yet I don't think anyone from that era would score as many as he does nowdays.

I could be wrong and it really is daft to compare eras but I think many people played professional football in the past who wouldn't make the school team today.

Eugene Ruane
17 Posted 14/07/2014 at 11:32:06
Tony Page (1) - Re Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles (er..not ’Styles’), the reason they were selected for the national side and Utd and Leeds (and had success with all) is that the managers of these sides embraced completely the idea of ’the team’ and picking players to ’do a job’.

They played for managers who understood the collective is everything and that these players, without ’on paper’ being the best, would follow instructions to the letter rather than do their own thing.

In the mid 80s, most writing a list of best midfield players would have put Glen Hoddle above Peter Reid and if the game was about keepy-uppy, they’d have been right.

But..it’s not.

Kendall knew it as did Reid and both knew that though it was an important position, it was just one of 11.

We won the league in 85 and 87 because ALL involved bought (100%!) into the team/collective ethic.

For years (70s/80s) I looked at the names on Liverpool’s team sheet and couldn’t figure out how they were having so much success.

Sammy Lee, Phil Neal, Joey Jones?

Ffs, ’puddin’s’ I thought...until I started to look a bit closer - they all put everything into doing job asked of them, didn’t over-complicate at all.

Clough understood the concept and won titles and European cups with ’puddins’

Glen Johnson probably has ten times the ’football’ talent of Phil Neal but he’s nowhere near the right back because he basically plays for himself.

A team of average players playing AS A TEAM will (imo) always be better than a side with three or four incredibly talented individuals playing for themselves.

It was funny watching the build-up to last night’s final, all talk of Argentina was about one genius player and all talk about Germany was about...Germany.

The situation with Brazil was/is an even better example, it’s like the whole nation, plus coaches and players had forgotten football is a team game and instead thought an incredibly talented lad (with a twat of a haircut) could win it by himself.

Germany showed them what a mistake that was.

Jack Charlton is a great example - when asked how he’d describe himself as a player said "Well...I wasn’t really a player, my job was to stop others playing"

Worth remembering this feller who was ’not really a player’ won a world cup winner’s medal, plus was an FA cup winner, league title winner, league cup winner, fairs cup winner and played almost 800 league games.

Right now, with us having the (lack of) finances we have, the idea of ’team’ is incredibly important and probably our strongest asset.

Sure you can have individuals WITHIN the side, but I think last season (and to be fair, in many of the seasons before) we had/have players, in the main, prepared to work for the greater good.

David Ellis
18 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:07:37
Ray@14 - I am just too young to watch the 1970 side, but I really really doubt they would win the league now. The overall standards are simply higher, and with less time on the ball could those great players really stand out. I think Osman would have been considered very highly in the time I started watching (which was about 1973 onwards) - with less need for speed and a bit more time on the ball he would be a genius.

They started putting tags on players in the late 80s on how much ground they cover. Nowadays players cover TWICE the groudn than they did in the late 1980s per match. Things are different and the amount of foreign talent in the league means that Royle, Husband, Morrisey and the Holy Trinity would be facing week in and week out people like Cruyff, Eusebio, Rivillino, Tostao, Rivera etc in addition to the George Bests, Allan Hunters and Alan Mullerys that they did play against. Money has attracted a greater share of global talend than Div 1 in 1970. That's no besmeerchment of the achievements of 1970 -they did what they needed to do to beat the competition at the time (at a time when English talent was at its peak in my opinion). But the competition is stronger now at English league level.

David Ellis
19 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:20:53
Ray but I agree with you that the current crop of top players may not have survived in the 1960s and 70s. Would love to see Chopper Harris loose on Ronaldo. Ronaldo would be laughed out of town.
Sean Allinson
20 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:05:45
Colin Glassar (12) Mullery wasn't in the squad in 1966 and according to Jimmy Greaves in his autobiography, he wasn't in the running for the final because Joseph Bonnell of France left him with 14 stitches in a gash that was never going to heal in time. There was talk of Ramsey not wanting to change a winning team, but the truth was far simpler. The only player who would have replaced Styles was our own Tony Kay, had he not been banned, and Nobby will tell you that himself.
Peter Cummings
21 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:01:43
I agree with Tony Draper that the last few games were garbage compared to the majority of this World Cup, even the final itself was poor but I was relieved that the Germans won with a goal worthy of taking the cup.

1966 was probably the most memorable year for Merseyside: we won the FA Cup in arguably the the best final ever seen at Wembley, coming from 2-0 down to take it, the Â’othersÂ’ won the league title, St Helens the RL Challenge Cup, and didnÂ’t Skem win the Amateur cup?? To cap my year my first son was born in June.

As an aside, Tony Page asked Â’Would Jack Charlton cut it as an England centre-half today?Â’ if memory serves, and I could be wrong, but didnÂ’t the guy who should have been there prefer to get married on the day, our own centre half, the late great Brian Labone?

Jim Lloyd
22 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:13:47
Good post Eugene, you raised a great point. It's hard (impossible?) to say how a player from the sixties would do in today's game. I remember the saying about Shankley. It was that he'd make a decent player into a good player; and a good player into a great player. I think that players from the sixties would be equally influenced by the managers they played for (assuming they made the grade) as they did then. There's lots of inponderables with the topic of how those players would fair now. Having seen the skill and drive of so many of the sixties players I think a lot probably would make it.

But I think Eugene's point is bang on. Having a team ethic (all for one, one for all) is probably more important than the skills individuals may possess. If you can get someone like Howard Kendall, who could blend the artisans with the artists and make them believe in each other; and equally importantly, make each one of them believe they are as important as the "stars" then they become extremely difficult to beat.

From what I saw last season, that is what Robbie is achieving. I think money will be a massive say on who gets into the top four and I'm not sure wqe will get there this season because we can't compete with the big spenders. I think, though, that we will have another successful season.

One point about players from this era, such as Ronaldo, running riot if he was somehow transported back through time to the 50's. I don't think he'd last five minutes.

Eugene Ruane
23 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:42:44
The idea that footballers from the 50/60s wouldn’t make it in today’s game is imo pure nonsense UNLESS.... you’re suggesting a time machine picks them up in 1960 and drops them here now.

Yes if that happened they’d DEFINITELY look off the pace etc, but...that couldn’t happen so patently ridiculous.

Comparing players playing in past eras, to those playing now, only makes sense if the criteria is imagine (great) players from the past born into the present era.

Consequently, if anyone thinks that an Alan Ball born in 1993, who goes down the same path (scouting/training/diet/advice etc) as Ross Barkley et al, would end up at 20 thinking "Jesus, the pace of this is killing me, I just can’t keep up and my touch doesn’t compare" you’re off your jaffa.

Ray Roche
24 Posted 14/07/2014 at 13:46:42
Paul Burns @16

Paul, you say "no guarantee that any of yesteryears greats could play at today's pace with the fitness and athletism required." Well, if you read what I said, "all things being equal" . Today's players, Ronaldo and others, are just men. NOT Supermen. To say that training methods, diet and coaching methods used today would not be able to bring outstanding footballers of one generation up to the standard of another generation is silly.

The standard of fitness and athleticism required by today's players could just as easily be adapted by players from a different era. Some of your other comments are ridiculous. Wouldn't make the school team? Ronaldo, if taken back, would score 30 a game? Ronaldo would be sobbing into his comfort blanket after 5 minutes, if the game was played as it was then. (I'm tempted to add "by men") In other words, if greats from the past can't play today's game, greats from today couldn't play yesterday's.

Paul, I obviously don't know how old you are and how much football you've seen, in fact I don't know you from Adam, but I suspect he'd need a bigger fig leaf. Because what you're really saying is that all our past, great players would be Conference players today. Ball, Young, Harvey, Kendall? Oh Dear... if you know your history indeed.

"It really is daft to compare eras". Possibly, but come on, it's the close season. A no-news day. What else you going to argue about?

David Ellis @18

David, it's a shame that you didn't get to see the great 69-70 side, but they were something special, and, as I have already mentioned, the fitness levels would be just as attainable for that generation as they are to this one. Today's players are truly athletes, but, again, not Supermen. Where would one draw the line? Are 2014 players a different species to, say, 2004 or 1994? When do you think that players became superhuman?

Paul Andrews
25 Posted 14/07/2014 at 14:27:27
Does anyone think Muhammed Ali would not cope with the modern day heavyweights?
Ray Roche
26 Posted 14/07/2014 at 14:34:03
Ronaldo would batter him.

Apparently.

Ray Robinson
27 Posted 14/07/2014 at 14:17:54
Comparing players from different eras is pointless for any number of reasons, training methods, diets, treatment of injury, analysis of play using technology, lack of booze culture (well for most professionals anyway!). Physique does come into it too. Today's players are not supermen but they are better athletes and probably at least 2" taller on average. Tackles are less brutal and refereeing is stricter too.

Some goalkeepers were under 6', played without gloves. The ball was heavier and greasier but they still tried to actually catch it. The centre forwards used to loiter and barely contribute to build up play, the wingers stayed out wide and rarely tracked back, the centre backs were tall, rugged and hit-men, the fullbacks never bombed forward and so on and so on.

Having said all that, there is one player who, at his peak, would have survived in today's football and that was George Best, despite his booze addiction. He really was at least 35 -40 years ahead of his time. Other than him you can only admire players for what they were in the era that they played.

If transposed into the present, the 1969 -70 or 1984-85 Everton teams would not come near to winning the League now but they were outstandingly good teams in their time - (even the 1968-69 team which I thought was better than the title winning side a year later).

John Ford
28 Posted 14/07/2014 at 14:12:01
Jim/Eugene Amongst all the pundits mutterings over the last few weeks, it was Chris Waddle who made the same point as you. That the best sides were picked as a team rather than necessarily the best eleven players in each position. Englands continuing failure to recognise this is startling. Its actually made worse because we also appear to have the most egotistical set of players, who's self belief nurtured by massive wages and a continuously fawning press seems to affect their ability to play with an open mind..

Picking teams on the basis of their collective potential should be nothing new. If you break it down to what individual players have to do, indeed its often about someone needing to 'do a job' which aint necessarily sexy but is essential. Critically, its also about how players interact with each other. Who do you include in the team in order get the best out of other players? Its difficult when we have a culture which fails to value a proper team ethos. Knowing your colleagues strengths and weaknesses, thinking and focussing on how they play every bit as much as your own performance. You can see the benefit for example when Baines and Pienaar are on their game. The collective is greater than the sum of their individual ability. Steven and Stevens before them had a similar understanding. You can apply that across a team. Germany do. They also have highly developed ball retention and passing skills which is inevitably part of what a team collective will have.

Instead we have eleven obviously individually talented players who will never fulfil their potential because they don't value passing and movement as much as other. The collective has gone missing. One example - Sturridge. Some think he had a decent tournament. He wasn't, he was complete shite. I don't mean the missed chances. That can happen to anyone. But if ever a player epitomised the limitations of the english its him. Frequently in positions to bring players in he chose instead to go solo or take the wrong option. He fails to see whats going on around him and fails to understand what it takes to be a player in a well functioning team. Ironically it is Suarez who made him look good last season. Suarez is going to Barcelona because he is a fantastic team player as well as possessing excellent individual ability.

I'm encouraged by our Bob. I do believe he gets this.

Ray Roche
29 Posted 14/07/2014 at 14:40:05
Ray, I think you're generalising a bit there.

"The centre forwards used to loiter and barely contribute to build up play"
Young? Sharp? Royle? Don't think so.

"the wingers stayed out wide and rarely tracked back"
Trevor Steven? Morrissey, even? He could tackle like a full back.

"the centre backs were tall, rugged and hit-men, the fullbacks never bombed forward"
In one line you've just destroyed my memories of Labone, Ratcliffe, Wilson, Stevens, Wright, Parekr... maybe they weren't as good as we thought.

And then you go and torpedo your own argument by contradicting yourself by claiming that Best would be impervious to all the alcohol, crumpet and other distractions that he faced....and HE would cut the mustard today.

Bill Shankly was widely regarded as a true football man and I wouldn't argue with that, like it or not, he knew what he was talking about. When asked if Best was better than Tom Finney he said,
" "Aye, he's as good as Tommy – but then Tommy's nearly 60 now."
Shankly could see players could transcend eras. But he knew a bit about football.
(that's not a pop at you Ray)

I say again, re the 69-70 and 84-87 sides, "all things being equal".

Ray Robinson
30 Posted 14/07/2014 at 15:01:25
Ray, never saw Finney so can't comment. Messi aside, Best is the best player that I have ever seen. I don't think that I am contradicting myself by saying that Best would have cut it in today's team. I meant that even despite his love of booze and women, he would have still been able to fit comfortably in today's United side.

Ok, I agree that I went overboard on some of the older players. Parker, Wilson, Labone were indeed cultured players. Sharp was magnificent at hold up play, Trevor Steven was exceptional at covering for Gary Stephens who did indeed bomb forward at every opportunity. However, these were exceptional in their era. For every player like that there were nine other dinosaurs. Even the poorer sides these days tend to have technically gifted players.

Eugene Ruane
31 Posted 14/07/2014 at 14:48:50
John (28) - "..we also appear to have the most egotistical set of players, who’s self belief nurtured by massive wages"

This ’money = intelligence’ thing is actually a societal change.

Pretty common now for people with (lots of) money to believe themselves geniuses and many (none-minted) people now often regard people with money as being ’smart’.

Obviously in some cases this WILL be true, but in an era where even the thickest can ’make it’, it’s obvious that money and intelligence don’t (automatically) marry.

I remember being in the alehouse a few years back and a pic of Jade Goody appeared on the telly.

One of my mates said (rather disturbingly and I still don’t really get it) "Look at that one, as thick as a Gurkha’s foreskin"

Another mate, while making ’that money gesture’ with his fingers and thumb, replied "she’s not that thick is she"

Not THAT thick?

As Charlie Brooker once said, ’In Thickland, her face is on the banknotes’ (he also added she once lost a game of noughts and crosses to a potato).

Katie ’Jordan’ Price is also (I imagine) worth fortunes so..is she dead clever too? (Or just a dead-behind-the-eyes, do-any-fucking-thing-for-cash, baby batter receptacle for equally thick male versions of her.)

Footballers, singers, actors, bands, X-Factor panelists, Royals, you’d be lucky if 5% of them knew the difference between there, their and they’re, yet because of their ackers (and Twitter) they’re more than happy to give us the ’benefit’ of their ’wisdom’.

WE need to stop listening to their inane, dense, dumb prattle and footballers should be told ’shut up and play’.

Ray Roche
32 Posted 14/07/2014 at 15:16:51
Ray, true, there were some (necessary) dinosaurs around in those days and for..er...mistimed tackles etc there are still some around today, usually hanging around the Britannia Stadium , but I think it's stretching it to suggest that old Georgie could arrive at Old Trafford in his Lotus Europa straight from The Twisted Wheel, stinking of alcohol with some ex Miss World as his passenger and displace Ronaldo.......isn't it?

Incidentally, Messi disappointed me at the WC. I think he and Ronaldo have some way to go to displace Eusebio, Pele or Maradonna as the Greatest ever.

Ray Robinson
33 Posted 14/07/2014 at 15:35:00
Ray, of course not displace Ronaldo but still shine brightly in a modern top class team.

On Messi, yes, he did disappoint at the World Cup but I don't agree with the pundits who claim that he has to win the World Cup in order to be ranked alongside Maradonna. In terms of world recognition due to global TV coverage, maybe, but Pele wouldn't have been any less of a player if he'd been born in Wales or Northern Ireland and never played in the World Cup, would he?

Ray Roche
35 Posted 14/07/2014 at 16:20:46
No, Ray, Pele was a beacon who would have shone as brightly as any player regardless of where he was born. Would John Charles have been given the status he deserves had he been Brazilian? He certainly hasn't in any place but Wales,Leeds and Italy. But that's another story.

On Messi, I agree, the so called experts prattling on about "having to have had a great World Cup to be as good as Maradona" etc. is just, well, pundits being pundits, ie. talking crap.

Mike Green
36 Posted 14/07/2014 at 16:30:25
It's taken us hundreds of thousands of years to get our physiology and mental capacity to where it is, so the current model will be no different really to that across the last century.

Whether the exact same players (Best/Pele/Cruyff/Dean/Finney etc) would have made it would depend on whether the skills and qualities they had would fit into the modern game. If they didn't there would be plenty who didn't suit the game in the '30s let's say, that would now.

If you think of more contemporary players like Zidane, Maldini, even someone like Shearer, I can imagine them playing in any era, past present or future.

Jim Lloyd
37 Posted 14/07/2014 at 17:04:44
John/Eugene,

Both of your posts I agree with wholeheartedly.

John, your point about Sturridge (and I think Sterling was eqaully lacking in awareness) is spot on. I just wish those lapdog hacks in the papers would write what they saw rather than drooling over players because they hit a good shot or did a bit of a dribble, when not really analysing what could have been achieved with a pass.

I think last season, so many hacks, and the England manager, commented on Ross Barkley's lack of awareness on occasions. True to a degree but the players who they have lauded were guilty of the same thing. Sturridge was too often just liningh himself up for a shot and Sterling was just dribbling into blind allies and getting in other players way (especially Bainesey).

I'm not being critical of them because of who they play for, I see this point of John's and Eugene's as so important, yet the English Press keep on gloryfying those same players (and not just those lads by any means) and yet having a different perspective when it comes to Rooney. He was played out of position and got slaughtered by the Press.

There were lots of reasons why England weren't good enough . Playing Gerrard in a sort of inferior Barry trole was one of them but the main reason is as John and Eugene have stated. There's a horrible Cult of "The Celebrity" that seems to have an overweening influence in the media and in football. So much so, that the emphasis is on the parts, not the whole.

Martin O'Hare
38 Posted 15/07/2014 at 05:00:22
I went to the 1966 World Cu[ with a mate of mine, Jimmy (Lance) Larkin. We thumbed it down to Wembley and back to Liverpool; we were 16. and bought tickets outside for a quid just before kick-off, behind the goal, where the ball hit the bar for England's third. Too hard to tell if it was a goal but it seemed at the time a bit Iffy!!

Alan Ball was the greatest Everton player I ever saw; he had everything, the best passer of the ball ever and a winner, never say die.

George Best was the best player I ever saw, there must be a better word than brilliant to describe him.

I now live in Sydney, Jimmy Larkin in Perth, he is RS and only been in Australia for four years; for me, it's 35 years. How I miss Merseyside and my beloved Everton. I will be back in August for I think the last time as I am nearly 65.

Peter Jones
39 Posted 15/07/2014 at 07:40:21
Alan Ball and his two amigos were the finest midfield players I have seen for Everton. Their speed of thought and action was phenomenal and regardless of modern conditioning would stand out in any era. None of them was a holding or a defensive midfielder either. They understood what they had to do without the ball perfectly without any notion of having to 'hold'.

But the class act of the England team was Bobby Charlton. I enjoyed watching George Best play and he was a great talent but he burnt out early. Charlton suffered because of his image. Balding with a combover, he looked like a remnant from the forties but he was revered world wide as a player with a reputation like that of a Zidane or a Ronaldo.

His scoring record as a young player was tremendous and he could beat players for fun. By the time of the World Cup, Ramsey had changed his role to that deep lying forward which everybody remembers now. West Germany had him singled out as a threat and put Beckenbaur on to man mark him in two world cups even though he was past his peak in the second.

Ciaran Duff
40 Posted 15/07/2014 at 11:32:56
Eugene (17)

That post hits the nail on the head as to one of the main reasons why England continue to do badly in the World Cup. They are not picked as a team and they do not play as a team. Other (lesser!) teams continue to out-perform them for that reason.

Ernie Baywood
41 Posted 15/07/2014 at 12:08:59
There's so many ways that you could view the comparison. Ronaldo barely coped 6/7 years ago if he had a defender hitting him hard. 50 years ago, it would have been worse. So do you need to transplant the rules too? The specimen that Ronaldo is, I'm sure he would have adapted to a different era if he was born in it. His style of play had evolved to the modern game.

You could make an argument that scouting and player identification is at another level now. So your average top level footballer in the 60s would probably be worse than the average top level player now. They were picked from a smaller pool.

So I guess the top few percent would still compare because the best get there anyway. All things being equal.

Laurie Hartley
42 Posted 19/07/2014 at 11:48:35
Great thread this. If I could transport one player out Man Utd's 60s team to play for Everton next season, it wouldn't be George Best or Bobby Charlton (both great players) – it would be Dennis Law. 236 goals in 399 games. What a footballer!

I saw him score against us at Old Trafford with a header that defied the laws of physics. Everyone on and off the pitch thought a long ball was going out for a goal kick. I can still see Gordon West with his hands on his hips, shaking his head in disbelief.

Paul Burns
43 Posted 19/07/2014 at 12:08:33
Sorry Ray Roche, I'm sticking to what I said. The vast, vast majority of past players would not be able to achieve the sheer athleticism needed for today's game and that probably means most of the players you mention. Except Alan Ball.

By the way, I've been going to Goodison and everywhere else following Everton since the 1960s and have seen thousands of Everton's games in my life.

Ray Roche
44 Posted 19/07/2014 at 12:26:42
Paul, you're entitled to your opinion, of course you are, I just don't see how players today are a different species. Ball etc, if born in 1990, would be just as able to reach the fitness levels of today's players, and you can't teach "vision", the ability to see a pass or a through ball.

Your Everton experiences will be similar to my own, actually going to the match, as opposed to being a fan, since 59-60.
Lucky, aren't we?


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