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Where are all the Hard Men?

By Chris Williams :  05/03/2010 :  Comments (50) :
I recall hearing Peter Reid talking about his time at Everton, as a member of the 1980s team that won a host of trophies. His gist was, and I paraphrase, "If somebody wasn't doing their job, I'd have him by the shirt up against the dressing room wall. If I didn't do it, Andy Gray did it... and if he didn't then Dave Watson or Big Nev did it."

Now here's the thing — none of these were the captain — that of course was Ratcliffe who wasn't a shrinking violet either by all accounts.

So basically you had a team where a number of key players were so committed to winning that they were prepared to impose their will on underperforming team members, physically if necessary. And the results were there for all to see.

I've been racking my brains as to why the current team — possibly the best FOOTBALL team collectively since around that time — can perform so majestically one match and so abjectly in another. For every Man City there's a Birmingham; for every Chelsea there's Lisbon at home; for every Man Utd there's Lisbon away; for every second half against Spurs there's a first half against Spurs. It's bloody frustrating and inexplicable.

There is a mismatch between the apparent quality of the players (in general — we could all suggest improvements) and the consistency and quality of their performance.

We've had discussions on here, sometimes heated, about the quality (or otherwise) of Moyes's tactics or his substitutions or their timing, and we've discussed the shortcomings of players, both individually and collectively.

After a bit of thought (well a bit more than a bit) I've come to the following conclusions or at least notions.

1) Successful teams have strong leaders on the field and in the dressing room — witness Rooney for England and in Europe for Man U;

2) Nice cosy dressing rooms where people are giving hugs and high fives to each other (as has been said about our dressing room in the recent past) will never contain a team that wins trophies consistently;

3) Unreasonable people are responsible for progress and success — these don't necessarily have to be cloggers, but they are prepared to stand up and make themselves unpopular;

4) Good players perform better where the expectations of their teammates are high and demanding and they stand to be held accountable by their peers;

5) Demanding, committed players are prepared to take charge on the pitch and if necessary change tactics themselves — they don't have to be told at half time;

6) Perhaps this current team errs on the side of nice guys with insufficient bastards knocking around, or people who maybe don't feel up for it on the day.

I think I would characterise Neville as a leader... and Cahill and by all accounts Jagielka and Baines. I'm not too sure about the rest though, and it strikes me that at least three of those have been missing for chunks of time in the recent past — which may explain a thing or two on reflection.

Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree here but if it's not this, at least in part... what the fuck is it?

Reader Comments

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Mike McLean
1   Posted 06/03/2010 at 02:16:23

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If a Peter R or Bally casually mentioned things, players might listen. Human nature being what it is, I wonder if Captain Neville’s words would be listened to as seriously by good footballers, on the grounds he suffers from some of footballing autism.

As to Jagielka, he strikes me more as a Fozzy Bear than the Terminator.

Now Heitinga is a different kettle of fish. If he becomes Captain, I can imagine walls cracking, the sky clouding over, and people suddenly getting very busy indeed. But there again, he can back up words by being very good indeed at his job.
John Audsley
2   Posted 06/03/2010 at 03:35:05

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Agree, Mike, Mr H is the man for me, a real tough cookie who can play a bit as well.
Kieran Fitzgerald
3   Posted 06/03/2010 at 04:07:19

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Given how poorly this team has performed at times over the last couple of seasons, a Roy Keane type figure to drag them kicking and screaming back into a game is exactly what we need. While Hetinga may do it for us, I don’t see any harm in Moyes buying a second player over the summer to do the same.
Brendan McLaughlin
4   Posted 06/03/2010 at 04:52:14

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Sounds to me as if Sol Campbell would have loved to have shared that Everton dressing room in the 80s...
Matteo Rosingana
5   Posted 06/03/2010 at 05:29:16

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Brendan, what does that comment mean?
Ste Lewis
6   Posted 06/03/2010 at 05:44:41

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I think Brendan is suggesting that Sol wouldn’t mind a few men having him up against a dressing room wall. I remember seeing one of those quick question things on Soccer AM a few seasons back and Beattie was asked who is the hardest at Everton - definitely Tim Cahill was his response. I think the recent inconsistency is teething trouble with increased expectation and big game workload - it’s to be expected and something we need to overcome if we are to step up. I’m sure we already have the characters to sort this but a couple more of the Heitinga ilk wouldn’t go amiss.
Dick Fearon
7   Posted 06/03/2010 at 06:29:24

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Prior to the 70s it was said that a happy work place was a productive one. The results of a wide ranging Cambridge Uni survey showed the opposite to be the case. Where does Everton come into this?

For starters, the survey was done as a favour to John Moores after he donated a very expensive computer. I expect lots of hard words would be thrown around our dressing room and I do not imagine for a moment the atmosphere is all luvvy duvvy.

David Hallwood
8   Posted 06/03/2010 at 08:39:26

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Dick-I think the team does suffer from a lack of mental toughness; one of the constants of successful teams is the ability to win ugly, when the team’s having an off day they somehow manage to get the points. This is absent from our current side, when we’re up for it as we’ve seen in the last couple of months we can beat anybody, but when we’re not at the races, and I think this team’s got a serious problem with that particularly in the 1st half.
Phil Paulson
9   Posted 06/03/2010 at 08:49:16

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Since Gravesen left, I’ve often thought we have lacked somebody who could take us by the scruff of the neck and change a game, as Reid and others did so often in the good old days.

Heitinga squares up as the type who could do it now. But it’s not just a question of who is a hardnose, but whether they are also a communicator.

Also hardnoses often want to be top dog. Moyes is the manager and he sees himself as a hardnose. Trouble is he’s not out on the pitch and wasn’t much of a player.
Andy Crooks
10   Posted 06/03/2010 at 09:21:09

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Phil, you make a good point re manager and leader on the pitch. I disagree about Gravesen, however. I actually don’t think he was the type of guy you think.

Phil Neville and Moyes have a pretty good relationship, in fact as good a captain - manager relationship as there is in the Premier League.
I do feel,though,that we need a player in the team who clubs dread playing against. Some examples:

Peter Reid
Roy Keane
Duncan Ferguson
Johnny Morrissey
Peter Storey
John Giles

Mike McLean
11   Posted 06/03/2010 at 10:04:41

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Brendan, sweetheart, is there something you would like to share with us?

Could it have been a veiled reference to the suggestion that Sol may or may not be gay?

Be bold and say what you mean.
Kevy Quinn
12   Posted 06/03/2010 at 10:35:29

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Agree the team is full of soft touches, I said to my mate before Lisbon away that we would get dumped out because we wouldnt have the bottle for it. Jonny Felli and Timmy were all missing for that game and there the three that qre the toughest in the team that tells you everything.
Eugene Ruane
13   Posted 06/03/2010 at 10:35:56

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I have been saying this for years — nasty bastards win stuff. I saw Peter Reid doing his thing in the 80s and 99.9% of everything he did was unspectacular. When we had the ball, he played simple short balls to Sheedy and Bracewell, but when we didn’t he was relentless in persuit. The cliche ’terrier-like’ was never more apt. The opposition knew playing us meant getting past him and that would have been daunting.

In my opinion we have never replaced him. Big Duncan might have made a few players nervous with his brand of lunacy, but it was rarely for the benefit of the team and I think many actually provoked him knowing what the result would be. Reid was far too canny for all that digging someone right in front of the ref, hard-man bollocks.

As for Phil Neville, nice feller.... and that’s the problem. I know nobody enjoys losing but I’d love to see us buy or develop a few genuinely nasty bastards who REALLY despise losing.

Jay Harris
14   Posted 06/03/2010 at 11:30:14

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So you’d all rather see Gerrard and Carragher types in our team?

I know which Everton I prefer to see.

The only thing that’s missing from EFC competing for trophies is NOT a "Hard man" it’s better quality players.

Do Arsenal or Man U have any "hard men" (Rooney excepted).

Villa by comparison are full of "hard men" and they’re no better than us.

Football has moved on significantly since the 80’s (and for that matter the 90s) and Cavemen are no longer IT.
Jay Harris
15   Posted 06/03/2010 at 11:42:42

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Andy you forgot to mention:

Dave Mackay
Norman "break your legs" Hunter
and Tommy Smith

I wouldnt like to referee a match between those three.
Eugene Ruane
16   Posted 06/03/2010 at 11:42:54

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Jay, you say "Football has ’moved on’" Really? Why has it? How has it? You’re sure it has? Are you sure it hasn’t moved backwards or sideways? Why don’t you explain ’moved on’ rather than just thowing in what I consider a meaningless sky-talk expression.

First of all, nobody said or is saying "let’s get a team of hard bastards, all of whom, who can’t play" (as you infer). You accept that United have a hard bastard then you quote... Arsenal? Arsenal have never replaced Viera (nb: a good player AND a nasty bastard). OBVIOUSLY a team of Peter Reids (a ’caveman’ according to you) wouldn’t win much but...who said they would?

The point being made is that two or three good players who ALSO have a bit of Reid/Keane/Souness (whoever) in them, WOULD be a good thing for Everton.

Jay Harris
17   Posted 06/03/2010 at 12:36:02

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Eugene, I beg to differ.

Name me a team of "hard men" such as Reid, Keane or Souness that has consistently won something.

Football may have moved sideways and backwards but it has definitely moved on and I dont think anyone could dispute that there is now a far better quality of "footballers" in the prem than in previous decades.

And IT IS quality of "footballers" that win things not necessarily "hard men".
Paul Dewhurst
18   Posted 06/03/2010 at 12:58:47

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Jay, name one great trophy-winning team that has not had a hard man / enforcer / leader / nuckle dragger type in the mix? For every Bergkamp there was a Viera; for a Cantona there was a Keane when Ronaldo was scoring for fun at World Cups you had Dunga kicking and organising! You mention Rooney at Utd but you don’t mention Vidic? Arsenal have won the square root of jack shit since Viera left but they have looked good doing it!

Footballers may have improved in quality... two main reasons: (1) they are fitter and practice more and are trained like athletes; and (2) because the media says they are better and we want to believe them because everyone wants to know what they have is the best!

You need a balance in a team and nobody in this thread wants a team who can’t play, but do want a team that will compete and challenge.

Eugene Ruane
19   Posted 06/03/2010 at 12:47:19

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Jay, you say you ’beg to differ’. I suggest that what you actually ’beg’ for is ridicule.

Let me ask you a serious question — do you only read every seventh word of each post? The reason I ask is because I SPECIFICALLY said nobody (nb: NOBODY!) is suggesting a team of hard bastards.

Your response? You ask me to name a team of hard bastards who have consistently won stuff!? Tou-fucking-che!! Did you actually read the bit where I wrote ’TWO OR THREE players?

Here’s a tip you might find useful. Only debate the ACTUAL points people make on the thread and ignore the really weak ones being made by the imaginary people in your head.

Jay Harris
20   Posted 06/03/2010 at 14:56:33

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Eugene, I DO differ not beg that you read my post wrong.
You need to read the thread, not me.

I WAS not suggesting a whole team of 11 hard men, I was querying whether we WANT a team including the likes of a Gerrard and Carragher who, as a case in point, have also failed to win anything for the last few years.

The original thread was looking for "Hard bastards" who would shake the dressing room up.

I still defy anyone to show me a team that has had consistent success in recent years with that philosophy.

Far from feeling ridiculed, I actually feel vindicated because nobody has... eg, Bellamy is such a player IMO. What has he won for all his talent?
Eugene Ruane
21   Posted 06/03/2010 at 15:59:48

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Jay I’ll say this - you’re consistent. Not only do you not read what anyone else writes, you don’t even read what YOU write! Let’s be clear, you (nb: YOU!) said "Name me a team of hard men who have consistently won something" (go and check!) See - a team! Your words. Incredibly, you then say "I was not suggesting a team of 11 hard men...". Really!? Coz that is EXACTLY what it sounds like to anyone who doesn’t live in Jayland. However If you still insist it’s me that ’doesn’t get it’, here’s my next question. Broadmoor or Rampton?
Jay Harris
22   Posted 06/03/2010 at 17:47:52

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Eugene
a man of your undoubted intelligence and wit should have known I did not mean a team consiting of 11 "hard men".

No such team exists just ask Sam Allardyce he has tried hard enough to create one.

The thread IMO was about having a few "hard men" who "would put other players against the dressing room wall".

IMHO again I believe any of the top 7 or 8 sides have "winners" in the team but NOT "hard men".

We should leave that to the Allardyce’s,Puliss’s and Browns of the world.

FFS it’s only 5 minutes since posters were crying out for EFC to play football exactly what we did against Arsenal,Man City,Chelsea and Man Utd.

Following those games we now need "Hard men".

You couldnt make it up.
Jay Harris
23   Posted 06/03/2010 at 17:56:45

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Anyway
I’m now having my final nightcap so get your coat off the door on your way out.
Dick Fearon
24   Posted 06/03/2010 at 18:34:38

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In the past 50 or so years I cannot recall a championship winning team that did not have at least one ’hard man’.
Eugene Ruane
25   Posted 06/03/2010 at 18:08:15

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Holds up small plastic toy cow - "No Jay, these are very small, but the ones out there are faaaaar away"
Kevin Spencer
26   Posted 06/03/2010 at 18:30:18

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The last time Everton won a trophy, we probably had the most feared team in the premiership history.

First in line, we had Big Nev, who were not only one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time. His presence could also scare anyone out there.

In front of him, we had four big centre halves, taking care of every long ball aiming for our defence. They were Matt Jackson, Dave Watson, David Unsworth and Gary Ablett.

Our Midfield consisted of four fullbacks (I know Horne was a midfielder but he actually played fullback for us a couple of times). Around Barry Horne, we had Joe Parkinson, Andy Hinchcliffe and John Ebbrell (even though he didn’t play in the final, he was still a very big part of the team that got there.)

Upfront there were two target players in the form of Paul Rideout and Duncan Ferguson.

So let us summarize this. We had 4 centre backs. 3 dogs of war. 1 fullback and 2 target players. How do we translate this to supporters, that are too young to remember them? Okay, I’ll give it a try here:

---------------------Howard--------------------------
Jagielka------Yobo------Senderos------Distin
Hibbert------Heitinga------Neville------Baines
Fellaini------Cahill
Christopher McCullough
27   Posted 06/03/2010 at 19:50:25

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Kevin Spencer: Both of your teams are shite and I think the most important players are missing from the first team; that is, Limpar, Stuart and Amo.

One scary player is enough for me. Maybe two.

P.S Eugene Ruane should be a professional writer or comedian. Superb.
Mike Jones
28   Posted 06/03/2010 at 20:03:25

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chris - original post. you mention 4 names from the 80’s = trophies. Then say why current team is lacking in leadership so wont win trophies, but mention the same number of players who are leaders. Yet arguably you neglect Heitinga, so maybe up to 5 leaders now if I was to add to your original list. I think, to use part of your original premise "unreasonable people = success" then Johnny H fits the bill as he didn’t want to come here (allegedly) unless his wages = highest paid player; for a defensive midfielder (albeit a good one) quite an unreasonable (but personally advantageous) position to hold (although, I do think he is a class player). Anyway, based on your original premise, i’m not sure perceived leadership results in success (even if leadership can be proved - although I have said previously that Phil Neville is a leader and a cause for good for EFC; i think all contributors to TW agreed with me?! - they didnt :) ) Michael/Lyndon - cant help myself contributing after a beer. Love the site, keep the faith
Paul Dewhurst
29   Posted 06/03/2010 at 12:58:47

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Jay name one great trophy winning team that has not had a hard man / enforcer / leader / nuckle dragger type in the mix? For every bergkamp there was a viera for a cantona there was a keane when ronaldo was scoring for fun at world cups you had dunga kicking and organising! You mention Rooney at utd but you don’t mention Vidic? arsenal have won the square root of jack shit since viera left but they have looked good doing it! Footballers May have improved in quality two main reasons one they are fitter and practice more and are trained like athletes the other is because the media says they are Better and we want to belive them because everyone wants to know what they have is the best!

You need a balance in a team and nobody in this thread wants a team who can’t play, but do want a team that will compete and challange
Paul Dewhurst
30   Posted 06/03/2010 at 12:58:47

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Jay name one great trophy winning team that has not had a hard man / enforcer / leader / nuckle dragger type in the mix? For every bergkamp there was a viera for a cantona there was a keane when ronaldo was scoring for fun at world cups you had dunga kicking and organising! You mention Rooney at utd but you don’t mention Vidic? arsenal have won the square root of jack shit since viera left but they have looked good doing it! Footballers May have improved in quality two main reasons one they are fitter and practice more and are trained like athletes the other is because the media says they are Better and we want to belive them because everyone wants to know what they have is the best!

You need a balance in a team and nobody in this thread wants a team who can’t play, but do want a team that will compete and challange
Dave Wilson
31   Posted 07/03/2010 at 03:38:09

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Good thread - Mr Ruane in vintage form.

The sister’s in-laws (Gooners) were at a family do last night and we got talking about this, they were bemoaning the fact that Patrick Vieira had never been replaced and believed that was the main reason they haven’t lifted any trophies.

I see Jays point, being just a hard man will only get you so far, but players who could play too, people like Keane,Vieira, Reid and Souness - sorry but he could play - are an essential part of any team that wants to win trophies
Brian Waring
32   Posted 07/03/2010 at 04:05:56

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Yes Jay, I would love Gerrard and Carragher in our team.
Tony Kelly
33   Posted 07/03/2010 at 05:14:55

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Talking of hard men, I got a shock when I read Terry Venables book. He said one of the dirtiest players he played against was Alex Young !! I nearly fell off my chair.
In the days before replays and live football on the box,you went to the match and went home with your memories. But on a site called vimeo,log on to Alan Ball and a match of the day from 1967, Everton v Manchester United. Watch Alex Young
go over the ball against a young George Best, In all my years of watching the blues I had no idea that the "Golden Vision" was in fact an " Angel with a dirty face"
Dave Thompson
34   Posted 07/03/2010 at 06:35:13

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Apart from plagiarising Arthur Linehan and Graham Matthews, Eugene Ruane there proving that Frank Carson isn’t the only Irishman able to tell unfunny jokes.

A legend of your own keyboard, lad.
Iain Love
35   Posted 07/03/2010 at 06:19:20

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I’m not sure how you would classify a hard man ? some examples have been suggested but i think in todays game a lot of those would have been sitting out suspensions for the majority of the season.
Personally i would prefer a team filled with "The will to win" or a "burning desire for sucess" than someone who pins me to the wall, as that type of approach wouldn’t work with me. Although i appreciate it would with some people.
A lot of my mates say to me " That Moyes looks a bit fucking scary with them mad eyes i wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him " so maybe he’s bad cop and Neville’s good cop ?

Eugene Ruane
36   Posted 07/03/2010 at 06:50:04

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Dave Thompson - (’lad’). Firstly, I’m sorry if you’ve never had a compliment on TW, but it’s totally out of my handsI Please try (nb: for YOUR sake) not allow youself to become consumed by bitterness. Secondly, your accusation of ’plagiarising’ is slightly misplaced. The term is usually applied when the plagiariser stands to gain financially from the endeavours of someone else. In this instance it was simply used on TW indicate the ’Father Dougalness’ of a poster. THIS annoyed you enough to post? Do you think I thought nobody would know it was from Fr Ted? You also seem to think I am Irish. Why? As for your deeply cutting "legend of your own keyboard lad" - like being mauled by a dead sheep! ("That’s plagiarism as well!! Sir, sir, he’s doing it again sir!!"). By the way, did you have any opinion on the post?
Gavin Ramejkis
37   Posted 07/03/2010 at 08:30:02

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Eugene keep it up, humour in any shape or form appreciated, I’ll go for plagiarism myself, "I’d love you if you were the color of a baboon’s arse" the spelling gives you a clue on country of origin.
Dan Brierley
38   Posted 07/03/2010 at 09:20:10

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Yet another myth as far as I am concerned. You can be the hardest footballer in the world, but the most essential attribute as a footballer is ability.

The game has ’moved on’, whether people like it or not. You will get a yellow card much easier now than you did twenty years ago. Ultimately, this is a good thing for the footballers that grace the pitches. The mere fact that Wimbledon and Coventry lasted as long as they did in the top flight, only serves as a testament that something was fundamently wrong with football. These teams offered very little in terms of footballing prowess, and relied on ’hard man’ tactics to disrupt the opposition.

To suggest we need more hard men is ridiculous. In this day and age, hard men just spend more time off the field suspended, which is of very little value to a small squad like ours. What we need, is more people that can consistently play decent football.

But it does demonstrate yet again how so many of our fellow fans are stuck in a time warp. ’When I were’t lad...’ adds nothing valuable to the future of anything.
Rory Slingo
39   Posted 07/03/2010 at 10:48:52

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Dan Brierley, conversely you can be the fanciest footballer in the world but if you don’t have the will or desire to play to a certain level every day of the week, then it’s useless. I think that was the main thrust of the original article. The lads have ability, but when they are not putting in their shift, no one in the dressing room is getting on their case about it. It’s not about having ’hard men’ on the pitch kicking lumps. It’s about not accepting less then the best effort every time they run out on that pitch. Hmm, sounds like a very familiar motto... where have I heard that before?
Eugene Ruane
40   Posted 07/03/2010 at 11:07:05

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This gets odder! People are inventing posts in their heads, then responding to them on here. Dan Brierley invented this one - "I think Everton should totally forget flair and trying to play good football and get a load of dirty psychpaths in. We should try to play exactly like Wimbledon in the 80’s". His reponse is above. Seriously - it’s depressing that for some, the notion of ’shades of grey’ in a debate, simply doesn’t exist. I mean ffs, how does ’Everton could do with two or three players who really hate to lose/instill a bit of fear/have a bit of a nasty streak" etc, become "Oh yeah let’s have a team of cloggers". Dan again uses his ’stuck in a time warp’ comment (as he does whenever anyone mentions anything that happened before yesterday). Well better stuck in a time-warp than a poltroon-warp. Oh and talking of time warps, ’when I were’t lad’ comes from Monty Python. Hilarious.... in 1971.
Jay Harris
41   Posted 07/03/2010 at 13:46:58

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Dave
dont call Eugene Irish he’ll get really upset which is a bit of racism really and an insult to the Irish with their superb wit and humility.

Dan I totally agree as you can see from my posts.

The notion that piining your teammates up against the dressing room wall gets you results is as antiquated as it is farcical.

The last person at GP to use that philosophy was Archie Knox and look at our results and performances then.
Eugene you are now officially turning into the "english" version of the notorious irish provacateur.
Eugene Ruane
42   Posted 07/03/2010 at 14:47:07

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Racism? Ok enough - my final post on this thread. Jay ’Father Dougal’ Harris, you suggest ’racism’ because I asked a poster, who thought I was Irish, why did he think this. For the record, I’m from Liverpool, I live in Dublin, my mother was Irish and I have, in the past, produced literature for the commission for racial equality. Jay you wallow in an ignorance so concentrated, not only are you not aware of you’re stupidity, it actually has you convinced you’re a genius. You’ve never got ’it’. You don’t get ’it’ now and you’ll never get ’it’. Goodnight numb nuts!
Jay Harris
43   Posted 07/03/2010 at 18:16:07

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Eugene you might be english as you’ve pointed out to me once before but your English Grammar is appaling:

"you’re stupidity"??

Seems like I’m not the only numb nuts on here.

I dont know what’s happened to your normal lightheartedness on here but you seem to have gone all serious and offensive on this thread.

Lighten up and get a life my son.
Will Leaf
44   Posted 07/03/2010 at 21:30:28

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"When I were’a lad"...At Last the 1948 Show surely, though two future Pythons were involved.

Now, back then lad, in my day, footballers carried meat cleavers onto the pitch, as they were too poor to buy their own food.
Rory Slingo
45   Posted 07/03/2010 at 22:47:09

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Jay Harris, I’m sure the many Americans on here can tell you Michael Jordan did the same kind of thing with his Chicago Bulls. If anyone wasn’t pulling their weight on the team he was never afraid to give them a bollocking in the dressing room. It’s no secret that some of his teamates used to resent him for it at the time but look at how many championship rings they won then! A good kick up the backside when you’ve fallen off the pace a bit is not farcical or antiquated. it works.
Chris Williams
46   Posted 08/03/2010 at 06:44:17

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I guess my original post was about positive influences in both the dressing room and on the pitch but will concede that the definition ’hard men’ could be misinterpreted.

For me a hard man, in this context is someone who by his actions is looking to win games and by extension trophies by taking responsibility for his own and other people’s actions, imposing his will both on and off the field.

I was not condoning thuggery in any way - it has never been the way at Everton. The players I mentioned were real players but were prepared to take on this additional responsibility and to hold people to account if they failed to do their job properly. This very possibly is a ’hole’ in the make up of the current squad.

I believe that omitting Heitinga was possibly an oversight, and from his performance yesterday, where he was pushing for MOTM, he could very well be that type of player. (I suspect Victor may well have got a bollocking in the dressing room for example).

It is possible for ’hard men’ to be good players too, and the ones mentioned, by and large, have been proper players, But I would not have, for example Gerrard anywhere near our club, but I would be happy with Carragher - purely personal and based on a view of Gerrard’s character and serial cheating.

I suspect that in Man Utd dressing room that people like Gary Neville might be moved from time to time to express an opinion, perhaps even forcibly, alongside Rooney, Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs - and Sir Alex himself could even be scarier than DM, so standards may not be an issue there.

Alex Young was as hard as nails - even Tommy Smith said so in his book. But so was Ball, Kendall Harvey Wilson, Labone, Morrisey and they were all proper players.

Maybe the game has moved on on the field but I’m not sure that such influences are now redundant in the dressing room, and of course ’that tackle’ by Neville on Ronaldo was actually credited with turning around both a game and a season!
Mike Green
47   Posted 08/03/2010 at 09:10:11

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Jay (20) - you are right - LFC have won nothing in the last few years with Gerrard and Carragher in the team but I think its fair to say these two were largely responsible for dragging that team kicking and screaming to a Champions League victory in 2005.

Football has moved on by I still stick to all the great sides having a great spine to their team - and one of the crucial positons in that spine is a "hard man / enforcer / midfield general". For this read Reid, Keane, Veira, Essien, Souness, etc.

Look at the difference Winston Palacious has made to Spurs - breaks up and stops the opposition form playing, wins the ball and plays it off simply to the more creative players.

Should Arsenal win the title this year I think they may achieve it without one such player - the same I guess applies to Man Utd. So maybe the game is changing but I still think it holds sway as a major tenet of the game.
David Thomas
48   Posted 08/03/2010 at 11:42:16

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Jay,

So you’d all rather see Gerrard and Carragher types in our team?

Yes Jay, i think we would all like a player like Gerrard in our team. Name me a team who would not want one of the best midfielders british football has ever seen.
Jay Harris
49   Posted 08/03/2010 at 21:38:39

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David
My team.
I know the Gerrard clan very well and would not want him anywhere near a team of my choosing.

Isnt it enough that he and his gang of "hard knocks" beat a guy up in "self defence"!! let alone all the cheating and "refereeing" of games while "biographically claiming he abhors cheats!!

Just because he is a media darling and England captain does not mean he’s not off the same block as Joey Barton.
David Thomas
50   Posted 09/03/2010 at 04:21:38

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Jay,

As with 99.9% of other football fans i don’t actually know any players personally like you obviously do.

From what i see on the pitch i also find the bloke arrogant and someone who tries to referee games on a regular basis. However, judging him on his football ability alone there is no getting away from the fact that he is a fantastic footballer and if we as a club want to be at the top of the league fighting for honours each year we need as many of these types of players as possible.

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