Bolton Wanderers Greatest XI vs Everton Greatest XI: Who Wins?

This might not rank as a glamour tie but both Everton and Bolton have had some cracking players...
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This might not rank as a glamour tie but both Everton and Bolton have had some cracking players...

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This might not rank as a glamour tie but both Everton and Bolton have had some cracking players...

Qualifying Statement:

I am 38 and started watching Bolton Wanderers during the George Mulhall days of the early 80s when my parents took me to every home game. We stopped going during the mid-80s though I returned during the early 90s, when I was old enough to be earning the money that would allow me to watch my local football team once more. I’ve been going ever since. Therefore, this is what I consider to be the greatest Bolton XI consisting of players I’ve seen in the flesh.

Bolton Wanderers Greatest Xl by Michael Green

Goalkeeper: Jussi Jaaskelainen

An obvious choice but it simply has to be Jussi. Gets the nod over Keith Branagan as he has been one of the Premiership’s top keepers over the past 10 years. In his prime (i.e. during the heady days of consecutive top 8 finishes) he undoubtedly saved us 10-15 points per season.9/10

Right Back: Gudni Bergsson

Gudni will occupy the right back slot in my line-up. He’s played there before and, despite primarily being a centre-half, he fits the bill here better than anyone I can think of. An absolute bargain at £65,000, he will man this position with vigilance, class and complete composure. A true Bolton legend. 9/10

Centre Half: Gerry Taggart

Players appeal to me when they are what I like to refer to as ‘growlers’ and Taggart was one of the biggest growlers of them all. An uncompromising beast of a player, he was a typical no-nonsense centre-half. He simply bulldozed people off the ball and did what needed to be done, whether that was a simple pass to a team-mate or hoofing it into row Z. And he did it very well indeed. 8/10

Centre Half: Bruno N’Gotty

One of the classiest players I’ve seen in a Bolton shirt, Bruno was also built like a tank but in addition he possessed a silky finesse on the ball which appears to be a given with the more refined players to arrive on these shores from other parts of the continent. A stalwart who would have formed a perfect centre-half partnership with big Ged. Quite simply a wonderful player. 9.5/10

Left Back: Ricardo Gardner

Loyalty and versatility are two valuable attributes in the modern game, hence the inclusion of Ricky. Having signed for Bolton following the 1998 World Cup (it’s easy to forget that Jamaica did grace the finals in France that year), Ricky remains a first team player to this day. Capable of playing at left-back, left-wing or through the middle, Ricky bags the left-back spot in my team. It potentially leaves that side a little vulnerable at times but his inclusion will allow my team to be fluid and adapt to various situations with more than a little guile, gusto and pace. 8.5/10

Centre Midfield (Holding Role): Fernando Hierro

The cynics (myself included) were doubting the signing of Hierro. An aging European veteran seemingly out for one last pay day? How wrong we all were. His stay at the Reebok might have been all too short but in Fernando we had the finest player I’ve ever seen in a Bolton shirt. At the age of 36 he slotted effortlessly into the midfield holding role and dictated play in a way I’d never seen before. Possessing an almost-supernatural ability to afford himself ridiculous amounts of time on the ball, his vision was exemplary and his passing was simply sublime. Gifted, committed and brilliant – it was a joy to witness such a legend, even if only for a fleeting amount of time. Upon seeing him in the local Tesco a couple of months after he called it a day, my wife couldn’t understand why I wanted to kiss his sacred feet there and then. There are some things you just can’t explain to a woman who doesn’t like football… 10/10

Left Wing: Jeff Chandler

I have to include a player from the days when I were a lad and Jeff gets the nod. Despite primarily being a right-winger, I’m sure I saw him drift to the left quite frequently (unless my judgement as an 8 year old was clouded by too many flying saucers and sherbet dib-dabs) so that’s where he plays in my team. A winger of real attacking potency, he was mercurial, downright cocky and brilliant. Any player who takes the ball to the touchline, puts one foot on it, holds his hands out (palms upwards) and beckons the right back to ‘come on then’ (before skinning him) deserves a place in this team. And yes – I did see him do that. As a mere nipper I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. 7.5/10

Right Wing: Michael Johansen

There is absolutely no competition for the right-wing berth. Signing for the club at the same time as Per Frandsen (who makes my bench on the strength of his awesome displays in his first spell with the club), the pair were instrumental in taking Bolton out of the Championship and into the Premiership in the 96-97 season.Johansen was tiny (I thought we’d signed Ronnie Corbett upon first setting eyes on him) but he had electric pace and great delivery. And best of all? He always played with a huge beaming grin on his face. You just couldn’t help but love the guy, especially during his frequent efforts to whip the crowd into a frenzy. One of the biggest bargains in the club’s recent history.8/10

Centre Midfield: JJ Okocha

Where to start? The fact that he had his very own showboat slot during the glory days of Soccer AM? The other-worldly display against Aston Villa in the 1st leg of the Carling Cup semi-final in 2004? The quite ridiculous audacity of some of the moves he attempted? Any and all of the above apply. A joy to watch, a true entertainer and, on his day, simply untouchable. The old cliché of paying the entrance money just to watch him certainly applies here. In fact, in his pomp, I’d have paid the entrance money just to watch him sitting on the khazi reading Whizzer & Chips, such was the brilliance of the man. I’m willing to bet that, in the sanctity of his own netty, he even curled No.2’s out in a spectacular manner. 9.5/10

Attacking Midfield / Centre Forward: Youri Djorkaeff

The most difficult decision of all – to include John McGinlay, Kevin Davies or Youri alongside Anelka. Well the title is the best XI Bolton players I’ve seen in the flesh and, if Davo or Super John are reading this, sorry fellas but Youri was one hell of a player. Initial opinions amongst many here were that Big Sam had taken yet another gamble on an aging maverick but such thoughts proved extremely naïve. A truly wonderful player, he was one of the catalysts for the period of (relative) success in the early part of the 00’s. My heart beats fast when imagining just how well he and Anelka would have complimented each other. 9.5/10

Centre Forward: Nicolas Anelka

Just behind Hierro as the finest player I’ve ever seen in a Bolton shirt. Another perceived gamble by Big Sam, in reality another absolute master-stroke. Signed for £8 million, sold for £15 million with a hatful of glorious goals to boot in the interim. Never sulky and always willing to work for the team, Anelka was the model pro during his time at the Reebok. And that 25 yard curler against Arsenal during his first season with us? S*xier than Girls Aloud contesting a bikini-clad wrestling match with The Saturdays in a vat full of custard. 9.9/10

Bolton Wanderers Total 97.4

I’d have paid the entrance money just to watch him sitting on the khazi reading Whizzer & Chips, such was the brilliance of the man

Everton Greatest Xl by Biff Bifferson

GK: Neville Southall

First up these are only players I’ve seen but even so the magnificent, contrary, scruffbag, maestro would be in any all time ace Everton list. Has there ever been a player so good yet so completely at odds with his status? Considered by many to be the best in the world in the mid to late 1980s – I can’t say as I never saw all the others – he was at times unbeatable. Ask John Barnes. Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1984/5. 9

RB: Ian Snodin

This is a controversial choice but I’m still mad at Gary Stevens for the pass that let Ronnie Whelan in at the 1986 cup final. Snodin came from Leeds United as a midfielder and he was alright there, but when he filled in at right back for a spell he was superb. Fast, aggressive and smart, he made the position his own and was called up for England but had to withdraw when injury knackered him. 7

CB: Dave Watson

Wretched at first – a Guardian match report on one of his early games (probably by Ian Ross) reckoned he and Kevin Ratcliffe weren’t on first-name terms yet – he became one of Everton’s most important post-war players. Rock solid, rock hard and fond of unorthodox refuelling methods, Watson was superb. Lifted the FA Cup as captain in 1995 and once ruffled Michael Owen’s hair when the little **** was whining. 8

CB: Joleon Lescott

Most people my age would go for Kevin Ratcliffe here, and he was a good player and our most successful skipper, but Lescott was simply brilliant for us. His defection basically finished football for me. Good on the floor, good in the air, fast and with an incredible knack for scoring (big) goals, him leaving left a massive hole in my betting strategy. 8

LB: Pat Van den Hauwe

An absolute beast but a brilliant player. Once put Vince Hilaire over the advertising hoardings at Goodison with a spirited tackle. As Hilaire’s twitching torso was stretchered off people were whispering ‘I think he’s dead’. Also smashed through Jimmy ‘****house’ Case after he’d fouled Adrian Heath or Trevor Steven (can’t remember which) when playing for Southampton. Scored the goal which clinched the 1987 championship at Norwich City. 8

RM: Andrei Kanchelskis

My god what a player. Twenty goals in 52 league appearances in just under two seasons, including a cracking brace at Anfield in a 2-1 win in November 1995. He was fast as with a great shot and a fine head too. At times Kancheskis was unstoppable – then he got the hump over a move to Fiorentina and that was that. 9

CM: Peter Reid

Described by Howard Kendall as Everton’s most important post-war signing. Paul Bracewell was arguably a better player but not as important. Reid wasn’t the quickest but he had everything else – he’d be priceless in today’s game. Although he’d get sent off a lot. Along with Kim Gordon and Jonny Marr, the only famous person I’d like to meet. Although we’d make an odd crowd. Marr would probably sneak off early having left his share of the bill but ‘forgetting’ the tip. 9

CM: Mikel Arteta

I was slow to warm to Arteta as I feel midfielders should be able to tackle, and it ****** me off that he needed Lee Carsley in there to hold his hand at times. But the best little Spaniard wasx brilliant the last few seasons before sloping off to Arsenal.. An elegant player but also one of the hardest working. Fit wife too. 9

LM: Kevin Sheedy

Sheer brilliance. I don’t know who Liverpool had on the left in 1982 when Sheedy joined us but he must have been bl**dy brilliant. Sheedy wasn’t quick but he didn’t need to be because his touch, passing, crossing and shooting were so good. But it’s the free-kicks people remember, with many pointing to an FA Cup tie with Ipswich where he smashed it top corner, was told to retake, and smashed it in the other corner. Magic. 9

CF: Peter Beardsley

Along with Sheedy the most skilful Everton player I’ve ever seen. John Motson on Match of the Day when we played (I think) Coventry said: “You could take this first 30 minutes from Beardsley and put out a video called ‘how to play football’”. There’s no better sight than Beardsley shaking his hips, sending the defender the wrong way and then stroking the ball past a baffled keeper. 9

CF: Graeme Sharp

Everton’s post-war record goalscorer, Sharp scored some of the most important goals in the club’s most successful period, including the winner at Anfield in 1984/5, the first in the 1984 FA Cup final, and the equaliser in the home leg of the 1985 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi final against Bayern Munich. The Toffees went on to win 3-1 in a game regarded by many as Everton’s greatest ever. If you weren’t there you missed out because it was ******** ace. 9

Everton Total:94

Bolton Wanderers Total: 97.4. Everton total 94

The Trotters win by 3.4 points, which will undoubtedly send a few people into meltdown. Let's be fair though, Bolton have had some blinding players down the years. Played on a stinking wednesday at Burnden Park, most of the match features Peter Reid trying to kick lumps out of JJ Okocha with little luck. With Everton's midfield unable to get near Hierro, the Trotters control the game but struggle to finish it off. With seconds ticking away, Youri Djorkaeff seizes onto an Okocha through ball, flicks it upo, and scissor kicks it past Big Nev, who was eating a scone that had been thrown at him...

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