Pickford over Vlasic in key Nations League decider

Sunday, 18 November, 2018 83comments  |  Jump to last
England 2 - 1 Croatia

Jordan Pickford played in goal for England as they finally got revenge over Croatia in a crucial Group A decider that will take them to the Nations League Semi-Finals in Portugal next summer.

A frustrating first half was dominated by England in terms of chances but no goals scored, with Nikola Vlasic, who is on loan with CSKA Moscow, playing for obdurate Croatia.

And with England pressing again in the second half, Kramatic got the goal for Croatia that would threaten to make it so difficult for England to progress... again.

But England plugged away and finally pulled one back from a deep throw-in, Kane poking it goalward, and Lingard finishing from 8½ inches.

This set up quite a tense finish for England, pushing for a goal, but getting pushed back and Lingard clearing off the line, with Vlasic substituted.

But Harry Kane stepped up, just 6 minutes before the end to poke the ball inside the post off a free-kick, giving England a precious win, and further reinforcing the good work Gareth Southgate is doing with a very modest group of players.


Reader Comments (83)

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Geoff Trenner
1 Posted 18/11/2018 at 15:29:55
Jordan having a really good game. One quick long ball to Rashford was superb. He has just been beaten by a shot that deflected off, I think, Dier and looped over him.
Brian Williams
2 Posted 18/11/2018 at 16:34:17
Jordan did okay today. There were several England players who annoyed me though as the three of them were all guilty of shitting out of 50/50 tackles or challenges. One player in particular was guilty on at least three occasions, the other two on one or two.

I always wonder whether that's down to fear of missing out on selection for their club teams due to a knock or a general lack of bottle.

Strange because you see the likes of Walker at the back who shits out of nothing!

Michael Kenrick
3 Posted 18/11/2018 at 17:03:00
Interesting how they are being hyped up on 5 Live — in huge contrast to the level of almost total disinterest shown on here, as summed up by our own curmudgeon at #1!

I guess the Beeb are heavily invested in covering England and only too happy to celebrate what is, in fact, a very important win for them to reach the final stages of this brand new competition.

And I guess that's the key for the ageing and cynical Toffees who've seen plenty of false dawns and have no enthusiasm left for the national side, what with the huge risk of players having their heads turned when they hook up with mates like Stones, Barkley, Dier — and of course Rooney before them — who have made the move to Sky 6 clubs.

Peter Gorman
4 Posted 18/11/2018 at 17:09:34
Well, I enjoyed it. Jordan did very well and seems to have really cemented his reputation at international level judging from the feverish commentators I was listening to in Spanish.
Stan Schofield
5 Posted 18/11/2018 at 18:07:33
Michael@3: It's not just ageing ToffeeWebbers who have little interest in England, it's fairly widespread amongst those who seek entertaining and winning football. Unfortunately for England, beyond 1966 there has been a strong tendency for the management set-up to consistently pick mediocre players when better ones are available, and it's not as if successive managers have been able to bring the best out of those players. You could be forgiven for concluding that the England set-up has been determined to be mediocre and play consistently tedious football.

From an Evertonian perspective, the first sign of the rot setting in was the failure to cap Kendall and Harvey (apart from Harvey appearing in one friendly), which would have given England the best midfield trio in the world at the time, fit to compete with the great Brazil midfield.

Little wonder there's little interest. Football is supposed to be entertaining, as well as effective, and England has failed on both fronts.

Michael Kenrick
6 Posted 18/11/2018 at 18:08:49
Well, I know a lot of Blues on here don't like the BBC, and don't like the England team, but 606 is a riot this evening. The anchor pairing with Alistair Bruce-Ball and Chris Sutton is really good, I think, but I am a long-time admirer of their professionalism. And you naysayers would be lapping up some of the calls.

There's a great rant from a kopite twat called 'Steve' — probably just before the hour mark, if you download the podcast. He really nails the point Brian Potter makes at the start about the widely hated International Breaks.

Sam Hoare
7 Posted 18/11/2018 at 18:17:24
Vlasic looked very at home on a top international stage, I thought. Hope he sticks at Everton as I think he might be a good replacement for Sigurdsson down the line.
Steve Croston
8 Posted 18/11/2018 at 18:55:08
"Lingard finished from 8½ inches." Very precise reporting.
Ray Roche
9 Posted 18/11/2018 at 19:21:06
Sam, I haven't seen any of the game but I have thought that there is a player in Vlasic from the very start.

I was in Germany some months back talking to a waiter about football. He was Croation and, as soon as he heard who I supported, he said "Vlasic! Great player!" and wanted to know all about Everton. So, I was in my element!

Eric Paul
10 Posted 18/11/2018 at 19:27:34
I always enjoy England winning at anything because I'm English and very proud of it; so, if Everton aren't playing, England is 2nd best.
Len Hawkins
11 Posted 18/11/2018 at 19:53:20
Steve #8 Yes very precise in inches. Pity the weather is cooling — the inches will be getting shorter.
John Pierce
12 Posted 18/11/2018 at 20:20:37
The apathy that is the international break is matched only in the ‘Everton that' brigade, they could be one in the same.

Look ahead and not back, both Everton and England are progressing and are far more pleasing to the eye than in many a year.

Self-sabotage becomes a millstone which is hard to shake.

Stan Schofield
13 Posted 18/11/2018 at 20:45:11
John @12: The discussion has been about England, not Everton.
Michael Kenrick
14 Posted 18/11/2018 at 20:50:57
I think that's it exactly, John.

A parallel to the conviction that Bramley-Moore Dock isn't going to happen because of all the lies and shit that were Destination Kirby and before that, Kings Dock.

I'm with you: Everton and England are both on an upward trajectory going forward. But I respect anyone who still wants to cry in their beer about Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey being overlooked...

No, I don't. I was lying. Just yet more moribund nostalgia... Try living in the present, guys!

Peter Mills
15 Posted 18/11/2018 at 21:52:28
Michael #14, The great beauty of this site you have been instrumental in creating is that it enables Everton supporters to reflect upon the past, give critical or supportive comment on the present, and express aspirations for the future.

You have put in a lot of hard work to provide this forum. Don't knock it when people use it!

Sam Hoare
16 Posted 18/11/2018 at 22:05:36
Ray@9, yes, if only he had some speed, being a tad one paced may mean he has to be used in the middle rather than out wide but still I hope he sticks around. Definitely a good player in there though maybe one better suited to La Liga or Serie A than the Premier League. Time will tell.
David Pearl
17 Posted 18/11/2018 at 22:12:56
I don't have a clue about this competition or our group A. Or the other groups, or the relegation and promotion. Does the winner of each group go to Portugal and play for the cup... of their group?

Seriously.... wtf?

Andy Bone
18 Posted 18/11/2018 at 22:37:32
Anyone else notice that the Pickford bashing started at about 2 mins from Alan Smith (?). Following the pass back and making reference to the 'penalty' incident v Spain?
Julian Wait
19 Posted 18/11/2018 at 22:55:57
Very enjoyable game. Pickford did well (apparently he made a mistake early on but I didn't see it). Barkley was average, Delph was a revelation, and Walker looks like he'll be replaced as soon as his (electric) pace goes or we find someone who doesn't make mistakes in that slot. Set piece delivery was poor, especially Chilwell.

Sterling looks like he's becoming a complete player, Stones is now the complete centre-back, and Sancho was really bright when he came on. Unimpressed still by Dier in midfield.

England look very promising, a blend of today's team and the kids from Wednesday would be a real step up from the recent past.

Bob Parrington
20 Posted 18/11/2018 at 23:07:34
Steve #8 and Len #11,

Spok would point out the inaccuracy as it should be to 3 decimal places. :) :)

John Pierce
21 Posted 18/11/2018 at 23:50:49
England were very tidy. A well balanced side, the area for improvement is in the midfield.

All too similar and not the quality we have in other areas. I'd seriously consider blooding Phil Foden. Yes a risk for sure but, he already has more in his locker than Dier, Delph & Barkley. Loftus-cheek too deserves more minutes, balance that out with Henderson, I think that's an upgrade on what we have.

It says a lot that the game engaged me for the duration. Positive signs.

Don Alexander
22 Posted 19/11/2018 at 00:44:27
England have no world-class players. To me, Pickford is closest to that description, followed by Kane. The rest are well short, good as they are, in my opinion.

To me, England are right now paralleling Everton in that we have a little distant history as winners... but now, with the green leaves of a resurgence. I hope the two of us progress to where we want to be.

On Vlasic, I think he'll have to develop way better than he is if he's to succeed in the hurly-burly of the Premier League as a starting player. It ain't his fault but, without extreme pace or extreme physicality – and he lacks both – it really demands immense talent, à la Luca Modric.

David Ellis
23 Posted 19/11/2018 at 04:00:16
This is a decent England team... like Everton they are now worth watching.

Pickford's mistake early on was caused by John Stones who dallied and passed it to Delph who was under pressure and only just got to the ball ahead of a Croatian, toe-poked it back to the well-positioned Pickford. Pickford went to ground as if to pick up the ball but then reckoned it was a back pass so chested the ball instead... straight to a Croatian... who then fluffed his shot. Pickford should have just wellied it... but the cause of the whole problem was John Stones.

Delph I thought was generally outstanding and far better than Henderson (who he replaced because of injury).

Chilwell played a lot better against us and although his delivery was generally poor, he did provide the cross for the winner. He is an upgrade on Ashely Young & Danny Rose defensively.

Rashford looked a great player... I've never really rated him before but he impressed me yesterday. Unfortunately all the chances in the first half fell to Kane and Sterling who both just fluffed it. Why Sterling can't shoot with his left foot is a mystery... surely all it takes is practice?

David Ellis
24 Posted 19/11/2018 at 04:07:21
I thought Vlasic and Barkley were both pretty anonymous – Barkley did a couple of good things (including getting a yellow card for chopping down Modric after he'd given the ball away) but I can't remember Vlasic doing anything in particular.
Martin Berry
26 Posted 19/11/2018 at 08:54:51
Pickford has been excellent. I think we are getting a little spoiled with the standard of Englands excellent displays. Some lovely passing and counter-attacking football that would seem alien to England teams of the past.

The national side is now one of the best in the world, and had the midfield been beefed with a 4-3-3 in the semis we could have made the final.

As for Vlasic, give the lad a break, he is just 21 and getting started outside his native country, he will be a top player. He needs the time and patience that certain posters on this site don't seem to afford him.

James Hill
27 Posted 19/11/2018 at 09:13:42
I'm one of the so-called ageing Evertonians who, while I had reservations about Marco Silva, believe he is on the right track. I also love watching England win or lose but their progress needs to be a bit tempered with many of the best, Germany, Spain, Brazil etc rebuilding.

I thought the World Cup was probably the worst in terms of quality I've seen, but England did okay. Best World Cup ever was 1970 in my opinion. Brazil 70 is the best footballing team I have ever seen. They would beat most teams today with the same fitness regime. Yes, I'm ageing... but I seen them all with my own eyes.

David Ellis
28 Posted 19/11/2018 at 09:39:54
James #27 - Brazil 1970 - beat the best ever England team in 1970... or so legend has it. Fabulous team to watch but of course you are right to mention "fitness regime" before saying they would beat the best sides of today.

Hard to say if they would win. They certainly had the skills but could they execute at the pace of the modern game? Many of them would simply be too slow regardless of fitness as pace was less important back then.

I remember Brian Clough saying circa 1980 when his Forest team was being criticized as unworthy English Champions by saying "If they didn't have stopwatches, they'd be saying that Roger Bannister was faster than Seb Coe".

No doubt at all that that 1970 Brazil team without modern training regime and probably tactics would be mullered by pretty much any national side in the top 10 now (or top 20). And, with modern coaching, they wouldn't really be playing quite so beautifully.

Stan Schofield
29 Posted 19/11/2018 at 09:52:43
Michael @14: I would agree that we should focus mainly on the present. However, in my opinion a Club is defined by its history and its supporters. The history is entirely relevant to the present, if only to influence the expectations of many of us supporters, especially the grey beards like me.

Regarding my comments about Kendall and Harvey being overlooked by England, I think it's an issue that's relevant today. Many Evertonians, including me, believe that there's a bias against giving caps to Everton players. The latest manifestations have been Stones and Barkley, who could barely get a game when here but are being selected after joining 'top-4' sides. Some might disagree that there's such a bias, but such disagreement is what constitutes a 'relevant issue'.

James Hill
30 Posted 19/11/2018 at 09:59:16
David, we will never know. The modern game is about pace and running, not a lot of skill.

I doubt there is a modern player today to compete with Maradona or Cruyff – the two best players to grace the planet. Closely followed by the Kaiser and Bobby Moore, who optimised playing out from the back... and guess what: they could defend too. Guarantee Pep would have both in his team today.

James Hill
31 Posted 19/11/2018 at 10:14:13
Also, David, I think the modern game is poor in comparison. It reflects that it's alright to cheat and dive. Poor game for anyone who can make a comparison based on what they have seen.

I doubt that most of the modern teams would even be able to play in the toxic masculinity world the feminists have developed for you millennial fellas. It used to pitting your prowess against other males. Believe me, that was part of being a man. Not big beards and tattoos. God bless... poor little things.

No, the modern teams would not muller the teams of old; it would not be a contest. Unless we made them wear skirts... even then, I doubt it.

James Hill
32 Posted 19/11/2018 at 10:21:35
Just my opinion, by the way, on what I have seen over the years. Call it negative but football is becoming sterile, no characters and not average players becoming stars. Case in point: Lukaku. Flat-track bully.
Kevin Prytherch
33 Posted 19/11/2018 at 12:48:26
Is no-one commenting on a former manager of ours who showed his suspect defensive frailties and failure to see out a match again?

2-0 up needing to avoid defeat by more than 2 goals and lost 5-2!!!

Some things never change.

Tony J Williams
34 Posted 19/11/2018 at 12:51:16
Watched a little bit of it and saw nothing that made me say out loud to an empty room, "Yep, that's Barkley all over!"

Corner for England, ball pinged about a bit, ended up with Ross who started to try and juggle the ball past a player, got caught and there was a promising breakaway for Crotia, who had a 3-on-3 situation.

Yep, that's Barlkey that!

James Flynn
35 Posted 19/11/2018 at 13:26:09
Kevin (33) – another thing hasn't changed: "We forgot to play defense."

Good old Roberto.

Paul Tran
36 Posted 19/11/2018 at 13:35:43
Of course, the big parallel with Everton and England is that both have a coach that works hard on the training ground actually coaching the players, has belief in their players' ability and can get their messages across to individuals & team alike. Long may it continue.
David Ellis
38 Posted 19/11/2018 at 15:32:35
James - Messi and Ronaldo are pretty much up there with the "big 3" of Pele (60s +), Cruyff (70s) and Maradona (80s) . Funny there was such a gap in time between Maradona and the current two top players – no one quite as dominant or good in a 20-year period. The first Ronaldo maybe... but not quite as good as his predecessors or successors.

You mention cheating... Maradona knew a thing or two about that.

The game has changed, but not entirely for the worse. Better protection of flair players is a good thing. The diving and gamesmanship is awful now, but I think the Italians and Argentinians (amongst others) were at it in the 60s and before. It's just universal now.

Tony Abrahams
39 Posted 19/11/2018 at 15:44:59
I agree that better protection of the flair players is a good thing but some of these flair players have taken cheating to another level.

Zinadine Zidane was surely another player to go in-between the names you have just mentioned, David, especially considering he also won a World Cup!!

Alan J Thompson
40 Posted 19/11/2018 at 16:28:37
And George Best topped them all.
Stan Schofield
41 Posted 19/11/2018 at 18:08:13
Alan, absolutely. In my opinion, Best was the greatest footballer I've ever seen, certainly at a live match.

I remember us playing Man Utd at Goodison, in 1971 I think, at the start of the season when the first few games were all-ticket. I was in the Paddock with my dad, and Best was on the right wing with Man Utd attacking the Gladwys Street end, so we could see him up close.

I just remember being gobsmacked at his control of a football, his ability to beat defenders even when marked by several of them, making it seem easy to send defenders the wrong way. The term genius is overused nowadays, but Best was one of them. We still managed to win 2-1 though!

John G Davies
42 Posted 19/11/2018 at 18:12:54
Alan, Stan.

A red once argued with me that Dogleash was a better player than George Best!!

Michael Kenrick
43 Posted 19/11/2018 at 22:03:45
Stan (#29).

Er... to bring it bang up-to-date: Pickford, only now established as undisputed England No 1 — since moving to (big club) Everton.

Who will be next? I say Keane, under the tutelage of Mr Silva. Already working his way back into contention after the horrors of last season.

Tony Heron
44 Posted 19/11/2018 at 22:15:26
Stan @41 Can only agree 100%. Best was certainly the most gifted footballer I ever saw play. He could do anything. Dribble, head and I once read an article that said he was the best tackler at Man Utd. He was an absolute genius.
Don Alexander
45 Posted 19/11/2018 at 22:33:58
It was a privilege to watch George Best play. His ball control at pace was mesmeric in that it always seemed random, and he had pace.

He also had imagination and skill beyond even excellent players, a mental toughness to withstand some of the crap pitches and shoe'ings he regularly got throughout his 7 or 8 years at the top, and a devilish heart to deliver it back. He never wimped out.

At 18, I thought Rooney matched him but then regrettably failed to sustain the impact of those early years in blue.

Gordon Crawford
46 Posted 19/11/2018 at 22:34:09
Georgie boy was the best ever. Greatest footballer the world has ever seen. If he was Brazilian, then this wouldn’t even be up for debate.

Oh and Vlasic will leave us as he doesn’t feel the love. And he hasn’t covered himself in glory with his comments on us.

Stan Schofield
47 Posted 19/11/2018 at 23:07:58
Michael @43: You might be right but, either way, your response illustrates the currency of the debate amongst Evertonians about the bias, or absence of bias, in selection of Everton players for England.
Dick Fearon
48 Posted 19/11/2018 at 23:10:45
Half time chat at RS vs Leeds FA Cup final. Topic was a Leeds players 50-yard run with the ball that led to a goal for Leeds.

Bobby Charlton said "He should have been brought down".

Program anchor, Jimmy Hill in 'shocked voice': "Surely you don't mean he should have been deliberately fouled?"

"We players call it a professional foul and Alf Ramsay would have had our guts for garters had he not been brought down."

That was the very first time I heard the term 'professional foul' — and by Charlton of all people.

Dick Fearon
49 Posted 19/11/2018 at 23:22:18
Of players I have seen in the flesh, my choice for the best is a draw between Georgie Best and Pele.

Both could lift a game out of the ordinary into something magical. Others, such as our own Alex Young, also had that god-given gift but to a slightly lesser degree.

Don Alexander
50 Posted 20/11/2018 at 01:37:46
I've never seen Messi live but he definitely epitomizes everything I revere about Best. In short, from another planet.
James Flynn
51 Posted 19/11/2018 at 01:40:28
James (31) - As fine an example of "Why back in my day..." old-timer bullshit as I've read in some time. And I'm an old-timer.

You dropped some names. For what? The elite are the elite, any era. The best of the best will give anyone a go.

If we could send the top teams today, Everton included, back to the times of your fantasy? They'd crush everything in front of them.

Plus, once they discovered what is a foul now, wasn't then? They'd leave the pitch covered with writhing bodies, as they sprinted on their way to running up a score even worse.

I'm an old-timer like you, James. The idea that today's teams couldn't deal with the old boys is beyond fantasy. It's an hallucination.

David Ellis
52 Posted 20/11/2018 at 01:58:31
Tony #39 — No I wouldn't put Zidane up there with Pele, Cruyff, Maradona, Messi and Ronaldo. He's certainly in the top two with names beginning with Z (alongside Zico) – and obviously an excellent player but not in the "best of all time" category. Plenty of players have won the World Cup (and only two of the 5 I've mentioned). I'd but Zidane in the same category as players like Ronaldo (Bra), Romario, Matthaus, Beckenbauer, Bobby Charlton.

Some have mentioned George Best and if he'd graced a World Cup finals he might have got more international acclaim. Probably the best British player of all time. But he for sure would not have lasted long in the modern game – he drank all the money he had – give him more and he'd have gone down faster.

Digressing, it's sad to see Gazza in the news today for all the wrong reasons – and Danny Murphy saying how many young Premier League players were ripped off by independent financial advisers – not just them, of course – but it's a terrible shame.

Phil Smith
53 Posted 20/11/2018 at 02:02:41
Chris Sutton and "professionalism" in the same breath is a laugh and a half, Michael. He is a total ignoramus and is so off the mark at times it's almost funny! But he never is funny... because he's a twat.
Tony Abrahams
54 Posted 20/11/2018 at 20:28:28
Each to his own, David, nothing to argue about, but the best two midfielders I've ever seen play are Zidane and Iniesta who was also an absolute joy to watch.

Just a thought but maybe you need total freedom of your team-mates to be the absolute best, and possibly why no real midfielders make the list?

Alan J Thompson
55 Posted 21/11/2018 at 04:30:18
Tony (#54);

I suppose it's all a matter of opinion but I'd rate Puskas better than both and Platini before Iniesta but the forgotten man always seems to be Gerson, who'd be my first all-time selection and who ran the Brazil 1970 team, unspectacularly spectacular.

Tony Abrahams
56 Posted 21/11/2018 at 07:31:29
If there is one player I would love to have watched, Alan J, then it would have to be Di Stefano, because I've heard many people describe him as the greatest.

Platini, what a player, especially lining up alongside Tigana and Giresse (I loved the Euros... France won when I was a kid) and possibly the best long passer of the ball I've ever seen.

Like everyone else, I love to watch great footballers and every time someone mentions another great, it usually brings a smile to my face, especially if I've been lucky enough to watch them play!

James Hill
57 Posted 21/11/2018 at 10:34:56
James Flynn #51 — your opinion and fantasies are noted. A bigger load of bollocks I haven't seen in long time. Don't pretend to be an old-timer, mate, you clearly aren't.
John Cook
58 Posted 21/11/2018 at 10:50:49
One you have all missed out is Eusebio. Seen in '66 at Goodison Park... beat the Koreans on his own when Portugal were dead and buried at half-time. The best second-half performance from a player I have ever seen.
Stan Schofield
59 Posted 21/11/2018 at 11:22:10
Alan @55: Yes, Gerson was great. I tend to think of him as part of the Gerson - Rivelino - Cloadoaldo trinity — the equivalent of our own Ball - Harvey - Kendall (Holy) trinity.

Imagine if the two trinities had faced each other at the England v Brazil game in Mexico 1970. The two best midfield trios in the world at that time, and the match might have been even more entertaining than it was.

Ray Roche
61 Posted 21/11/2018 at 12:28:44
James @51

The argument about players from different eras is always entertaining but to say players from the past would not be able to cut it today is ludicrous. Given the same training, fitness, diet etc the great players from the past would be great players today. Try saying that Best, Young or the greats mentioned above wouldn't stand out to anyone who saw them play... 🤣

Alan J Thompson
62 Posted 21/11/2018 at 12:59:26
Tony (#56); It would be a bit difficult not to be good in a team that has Puskas, Di Stefano, Gento and del Sol; the 1960, I think, European Cup Final between Real and Eintracht Frankfurt in Glasgow (6-3) is quite rightly regarded as a classic that should be in the coaching manual. Gento really looked a matador inviting in the bull, he terrified the full back.

It was said that Puskas was asked why he never used his right foot and his answer was that with a left leg like his, who needed a right leg. Di Stefano was asked why as a centre-forward (he wore No 9) he never headed the ball and he replied that the head is for the wearing of the hat.

George Best used to tell the story about coaching in Sydney and all the kids rushed to him ignoring the overweight older European coach so Best lined up 6 balls and asked the coach to try and hit the bar with them. He hit 5 out of 6 and the kids sat up; it was Puskas.

Stan (#59); Always was the downfall of English managers that they prefer playing the likes of Mullery and Stiles (not bad players) to mark somebody from the opposition out of the game rather than have the opposition worry about them. Remember Joe Mercer as caretaker England manager telling the players to, above all, go out and enjoy themselves.

Dave Abrahams
63 Posted 21/11/2018 at 13:11:52
Alan (62), Alfredo Di Stefano would have made any team he played for better, an absolute diamond of a player. He could have played right-back or in any position on the field and been great there.

The best player I never saw (only on television) but what a privilege, every time I saw him. Did he score four in that European Cup Final at Hampden Park, and Puskas three, or was it the other way round?

Alfredo played for three International countries, he was just an immense footballer, for me the best I ever saw: tremendous skill, dedication and application. A pity he never played in the English league; I'd have queued all night to watch him.

Dave Abrahams
64 Posted 21/11/2018 at 13:20:32
Oh, and by the way, nobody has mentioned Johann Cruyff. He must be high on most people's list of great players.

Georgie Best rightly deserves recalling; another great footballer, great to watch. Pity he only played top-flight football for seven years... what a talent he threw away.

Brian Harrison
65 Posted 21/11/2018 at 13:23:21

I was lucky enough to see Alfredo Di Stefano play for Real Madrid against Manchester Utd at Old Trafford. He was a great player, great first touch and very good in the air; he was also a very graceful player. I think Santa Maria played that game, a brilliant centre-half, as they were called back then; Del Sol and Ghento played as well. What a team Real were – a joy to watch.

Dave Abrahams
66 Posted 21/11/2018 at 13:47:37
Brian (65), I most probably saw that game on TV, I think they played Man Utd twice, one was a friendly game that finished 2-2. That game was on ITV, football was poor on that channel in the beginning... Anyway the game had just kicked off and incredibly seconds later the adverts came on: unbelievable!

Man Utd also played Real Madrid not long after in a European Cup match, think they lost 1-3 and Di Stefano played in that game, if I'm not mistaken.

Don Alexander
67 Posted 21/11/2018 at 13:50:23
Another name from the '50s and '60s: John Charles. Juve fans voted him their greatest ever player and that's some accolade on its own.
Brian Harrison
68 Posted 21/11/2018 at 14:19:31
I think it was the 2-2 game... your memory is a lot better than mine Dave. I can't even remember exactly what year that was.
Dave Abrahams
69 Posted 21/11/2018 at 15:20:24
Brian (68), that 2-2 game was around 1955, when Chelsea won the League Championship, but the FA, or whoever was in charge of Football League then, refused Chelsea permission to enter the European Cup the following season, 1955-56, and they accepted that decision.

The following season, Man Utd won the League Championship and they told the league where to go when they told them they also couldn't enter the European Cup.

So that 2-2 game was a friendly and would have been played around 1955, the 1-3 game was a European Cup fixture and was played in 1956 or not long after that.

Alan J Thompson
70 Posted 21/11/2018 at 16:38:45
Dave (#63); I know he played for Argentina and Spain, what was the 3rd country?

Memory not being what it was but I thought Puskas got 3 in that Final.
For some reason, I had Wolves playing in Europe in 1956 – or should that be 1959?

Ray Roche
71 Posted 21/11/2018 at 16:58:40
Don, didn't Juve fans vote him the best centre-half AND the best centre-forward they'd ever had? People forget that he could play in both positions and was supreme in both. The Gentle Giant, modest and a good man.
Ray Roche
72 Posted 21/11/2018 at 17:01:19

Argentina, Colombia and Spain according to Wikki.



Dave Abrahams
73 Posted 21/11/2018 at 17:05:24
Alan (70), Di Stefano played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain. I'd say Di Stefano scored three and Puskas four, but it could be the other what round; the score, by the way, was 7-3.

Alan, you would be correct to say Wolves played in Europe in 1955 and possibly earlier, but they were all friendly games against, I think, Moscow Dynamo and Honved, the second half of these games were shown on TV, probably BBC. The games were brilliant to watch, not only were they very good games, but we were starved of watching football on TV those days, it was like Chtistmas for the eager football fans of those days.

Wolves also might have played in the Inter City Fairs Cup games in 1959, which were the forerunner of the Uefa Cup and the present Europa League.

Stephen Davies
74 Posted 21/11/2018 at 17:38:59
Ray: 71/72

He also played with an ex-Everton player while out in Colombia.

Dave Abrahams
75 Posted 21/11/2018 at 18:12:23
Stephen (74), that would most likely be Jack Hedley, he went to Bogota in Colombia, which was organised partly by another ex-Everton player, Jock Dodds.

A few Brittish players went to Bogota, ignoring a warning not to go by the football authorities. They were all promised a lavish lifestyle and top wages to go; it turned out be an illusion and they came back pretty quickly. They were suspended but eventually returned to the game.

I think Jack Hedley went to Sunderland and played many years for them. Ironically Sunderland were later fined for paying over the top wages to players in the fifties, don't know if Hedley was one of those players.

Peter Mills
76 Posted 21/11/2018 at 19:00:14
On 14 May 2002, I saw Wayne Rooney play for us in the FA Youth Cup Final, and on the following evening was sitting in line with the edge of the penalty area at Hampden Park when Zidane scored his magnificent volley for Real Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen.

It was a rare opportunity to have two great football experiences in the space of about 26 hours, something I haven't done since. But I will be taking Mike Gaynes to Marine and Anfield in the same timespan next weekend - what chance some more great memories?

Look forward to seeing you, Dave A.

Dave Abrahams
77 Posted 21/11/2018 at 21:01:09
Peter (76),

Yes, looking forward to the derby game and echo your thoughts about gathering some memories from that game. See you a week on Friday.

Don Alexander
78 Posted 21/11/2018 at 23:07:12
Ray (#71), yes, you're right. As centre-forward he linked up with Omar Sivori, an Argentinian fox-in-box with a huge record as a poacher supreme. Charles then bettered even Sivori's goals-per-game ratio for seasons on end, as well as playing centre-half when the need arose.

Sivori's less celebrated skill was diving though, and in later years Sivori related how after one of his pike-with-double-twist efforts it was Charles, not the irate defenders, who dragged him upright and bollocked him senseless for trying to cheat.

Ah, those were the days!

James Flynn
79 Posted 22/11/2018 at 03:55:17
Ray (61) - Apologies for the late response.

Regarding players Hill named and you with Young and Best.

I opened in reply to Hill's maudlin drooling (31), "You dropped some names. For what? The elite are the elite, any era. The best of the best will give anyone a go."

For me, the best of any era would fit in anywhere. So there's no quarrel there.

It's today's players vs back when the game "was a man's game", I laugh at the old-timer bullshit it is.

Here, let's send some of today's sides back to the 60-70s years when men were men. I think Moyes had a couple to fill the bill, but will pick two teams from right now that always send out a side with some chippy bastards; Spurs and Chelsea.

Blatantly kicked down. "Hey ref, you didn't see that, for fucks sake?", in the whimpering, bearded, tatooed way of the modern player.

Few minutes later, gets some back, but not as "hard", since these pampered pussies of today wouldn't recognize hard if they slammed into a brick wall.

Yet, as the game progresses, it sinks in that what is a foul all day in this descended, millennial world of girly-men athletes, is simply "play on". back in the era of real men.

I said, and repeat, that once the realization sunk all the way in with Chelsea and Spurs players that almost anything goes "mano a mano", they'd run all over those teams of old.

Wouldn't be close.

James Hill
80 Posted 22/11/2018 at 08:04:21
James Flynn,

Great response – love it!

Ray Roche
81 Posted 22/11/2018 at 08:19:24
Actually James, my argument is that players of yesterday would be able to compete today, given that every aspect was equal, ie, fitness, diet, medical advances, training etc. Best would still be a great player, along with most of the others mentioned.

Best would still be a great player, along with most of the others mentioned. The likes of Hunter, Stiles, Smith etc would be found out for what they where. Dinosaurs. But effective in that era.

If it were possible for the current generation to go back, once they'd realised that a broken fingernail, smudged tattoo or ruined hair extension wasn't a death sentence some of today's players would also have been able to make the transition back to the Middle Ages, as some on here think it was. ;-)

As I said, always an entertaining topic.

Tony Abrahams
83 Posted 22/11/2018 at 09:58:13
I think everyone repeats themself when they take a trip down memory lane, Ray, and it's possibly why it's not everyone's cup of tea!

Yesterday's gone, but it's never forgotten, even if this new Everton team, have got me doing something I haven't done for years, because I've been counting down the days till Saturday all week, and there is nothing worse than wishing time away!

Ray Roche
84 Posted 22/11/2018 at 16:48:10
I think we may have seen the best Everton era, Tony, but we can hope that we go onwards and upwards from now on under the present regime. As you say, it's great to look forward to the match nowadays.
John Boon
87 Posted 23/11/2018 at 04:50:37
I have read all the posts and people's opinions about the greatest players. Everyone has their own idea about what makes a great player. Every player mentioned was great in their own right and each one had something special to offer. Everyone is right about who they choose. One man's meat is another man's poison. We all see things differently and whoever I pick as the greatest ever will not be agreed by others.

However, I can also say that, as a true Blue, there are at least a dozen Everton players who have personally given me more pleasure over the last seventy years than any of the above superstars. Yes, I know they might not be nearly as skillful and I do admire special skills but I would rather watch a good Evertonian than a great player in another team. Alex Young tops my list but he was never an International worldwide star, but he did it all, for me.

James Flynn
88 Posted 23/11/2018 at 21:18:39
Ray (81) - Apologies again. Lots going on keeping me from getting in here.

I agree that we'd have to allow for today's all-round fitness considerations (especially eliminating the alcohol/tobacco/lousy food of those days). No doubt that makes a difference.

I agree that the elite of any era provided the current levels of fitness would remain elite. Why wouldn't they? For me, the best back then would be among the best now.

The average club 11 from back then, though, would be thrashed out-of-site.

Based on what Hill said: "I doubt that most of the modern teams would even be able to play in the toxic masculinity world the feminists have developed for you millennial fellas. It used to be pitting your prowess against other males. Believe me, that was part of being a man. Not big beards and tattoos. God bless... poor little things.

No, the modern teams would not muller the teams of old; it would not be a contest. Unless we made them wear skirts... even then, I doubt it."

Funny right?

He didn't approach it as you have. His was that send today's teams back then and boy wouldn't they find out. Grandpa's delusion.

What today's teams would find out is that compared to today, beyond the dramatic difference in fitness and pace, anything went back then and wouldn't they relish it is my take, skirts and all.

I'm in my mid-60s. In our American sports, there is a running (enjoyable) argument with fellows my age that include some spouting the same "Back when we were young, by God..." Hill spouted.

It dismisses the modern players' determination to succeed, especially their willingness to kick the shit out an opponent if dropped into an environment when "Men were men."

Dave Abrahams
89 Posted 23/11/2018 at 21:46:24
John (87) I agree with most of your post, and it's true what you say, we all believe the player we thought was the best, was the best, makes for good arguments and debates in the pub, especially when the ale is in and the wit is out. Funny as well.

For instance, your pick, Alex Young. I have to say he had a God-given talent, but wasted it on many occasions. On his way up at Hearts, when Real Madrid were buying the best players in the world, they ran the rule over Alex but decided he wasn't good enough for them. Their loss was Everton's good fortune.

For me, if an Everton fan told me Alex was the best they ever saw "On his day", then I would find it hard to disagree, but I suppose you could say that about quite a few players.

Incidentally, Tom Finney is the best Brittish player I have seen up to now, in my opinion.

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