Firstly let me establish my good fortune of having witnessed two great successful Everton teams full of leaders: Labone, Ball, Harvey & Kendall; then Reid, Gray, Southall & Ratcliffe.
All of the above hated losing, I mean these guys took it personally. We regularly heard stories that, if the Blues lost, then that weekend, woe betide the dog, the cat and sometimes the wife. Evenings out cancelled, sulking, silence & fronting up any teammate they felt hadn’t put a shift in.
Those were the days when a win bonus probably was more important than the regular salary but it wasn’t down to the money – it was down to the in-built will to win these guys had.
Since the introduction of the Premier League, we’ve been blessed with very few of such characters and my judgment is that, for a team to be really successful, you need a minimum of four players like this in your team.
We’ve since had sides with players like Cahill, Ferguson, Rooney etc. Maybe two players but not the full compliment required to affect the team's performance and be the required tipping point.
Fast-forward (unfortunately) to present times: overpriced and overpaid prima donnas who get more protection in one match than the '60s, '70s and '80s teams ever received for the majority of their careers.
I actually don’t think any of our squad actually hurt when losing; those days are gone. But we do seem particularly cursed with players who just seem to be “nice”. The only players we seem to have with “an edge” are Richarlison and Godfrey.
Yesterday, Newcastle successfully targeted James Rodriguez and no-one in our team responded. In my nativity, when Shelvey was yellow-carded after 20 minutes, I thought: "He’ll be off soon as we’ll do a number on him."
What an idiot I am! No-one went near him for the rest of the game. I forgot – we’re just too nice. I’d guess the thought of retribution and protecting your teammate never entered Sigurdsson’s mind... far too busy pointing.
When Sheedy got clattered, Reid would actively seek out the perpetrator and administer justice. Skill, talent, genius is wasted without character... the best had a nasty streak: Maradona, Pele, Best, Cruyff, Ronaldo.
We have character – unfortunately, it’s more Hugh Grant and not Liam Neeson.
Reader Comments (8)
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1 Posted 31/01/2021 at 10:15:12
2 Posted 31/01/2021 at 10:48:00
3 Posted 31/01/2021 at 10:56:42
When on form Sigurdsson is a good number 10 but for me never should he be one of two central midfielders.
4 Posted 31/01/2021 at 11:23:20
Our malaise comes down to a "come day go day" attitude that extends decades
5 Posted 31/01/2021 at 12:09:47
6 Posted 03/02/2021 at 12:25:33
Good article Dave - i've often said we lack a real leader on the pitch to pull everyone up. This has been an issue for years for Everton, and when you look at the PL winners over the years they've all had this type of player in their team; Keane, Viera, John Terry, Kompany, Henderson. I'd even say Gerrard too (even though he didn't win the PL) but he drove Liverpool on time and time again.
Would never put Richarlison in the bracket of having an edge - he just sulks and is moody & reckless sometimes. Not what I think you mean by edge Godfrey & to a certain extent Holgate are the only ones in the team who I see putting strong tackles in when they can, they both love a slide tackle and try to "leave one" on their opponents. The rest of the team just seem clumsy in their attempts to tackle rather than real bite.
Finding someone who could come into the team - whether CB or CM - who could be a real leader for the team and captain is what we've lacked for years and what I'd love us to find. Allan does a lot of talking on the pitch and bosses players around which is great to see but he's not the long term answer due to his age.
7 Posted 05/02/2021 at 04:55:10
I was slightly too young to watch the 1970 team but the 1985 was full of winners - Ratcliffe, Sharp, Reid, Bracewell, Southall - that's a spine to a team. They played hard as well as worked hard by all accounts (perhaps Southall excepted)!
8 Posted 05/02/2021 at 06:32:00
And I think he has adapted just fine to the Prem, evidence the fact that he was leading the league in tackles when he was injured. I'm not sure what you're talking about with the "two" injuries, because he had played every minute in 12 of 13 games before he went lame against Leicester, so that December 16 injury is the only one. And that had nothing to do with the physicality or pace of the league -- he was running, not even full speed, and pulled a muscle. It happens.
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