Chelsea Greatest XI vs Wolves Greatest XI: Who Wins?

The pundits would have you believe that this is a good time for a struggling Wolves to visit Stamford Bridge with Chelsea firmly in crisis. Nonsense. The same goes for their greatest ever XI too.
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The pundits would have you believe that this is a good time for a struggling Wolves to visit Stamford Bridge with Chelsea firmly in crisis. Nonsense. The same goes for their greatest ever XI too.

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The pundits would have you believe that this is a good time for a struggling Wolves to visit Stamford Bridge with Chelsea firmly in crisis. Nonsense. The same goes for the greatest Xls these two fans have seen play...

Chelsea’s Greatest XI

GK: Petr Cech – In my opinion still the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. Granted he has spent most of his time working behind one of Chelsea’s best defences but he has consistently pulled off superb saves when called upon – not to mention coming back as good as ever after that horrific head injury. 10

LB: Ashley Cole – Despite perhaps being one of the most hated men in football, Cole’s contributions down the left have been outstanding for Chelsea. Reliable in defence and always making strides to get forward – he probably puts in a harder shift than any other player. 10

CB: John Terry – Captain and talisman. What JT maybe lacks in agility these days he makes up for with his experience and reading of the game. A great presence on the pitch and has successfully marshalled one of the best defences the Premier League has seen to three league titles. 9

CB: Marcel Desailly – Often known as “the rock” Desailly provided a formidable strong presence in the heart of the Blues defence for six years and won an FA Cup in the process. 8

RB: Ron “Chopper” Harris – Just a little before my time but the recommendations of my dad have been duly noted to include a few Chelsea legends. Chopper appeared just shy of 800 times for the club, which is obviously a great service. He was often noted for his physical approach – particularly in the FA Cup final in 1970. 8

CM: Claude Makelele – He made the defensive role his own under Mourinho. In recent years the formation with a holding midfielder has by far worked the best for Chelsea and none have taken on the role as well as Makelele. He rarely ventured forward of the halfway line but achieved a 100% shots to goals ratio in the 06-07 season (one shot, one goal). 10

LM: Gianfranco Zola – Not many will ever look as good in a Chelsea shirt as Gianfranco Zola. Anchored by Makelele I can see him cutting in from the left at will, both creating and scoring in my hypothetical mang*sm of a team. An absolute boyhood hero, he was incredible – on the ball, from set-pieces, everywhere. The best.  10

CM: Dennis Wise – An almost purely nostalgic choice here. Wise was a little terrier of a player who Sir Alex Ferguson once described as being able to start a fight in an empty house. But seeing Dennis lift the FA Cup in 1997 as captain is a joy of a childhood memory. 8

RM: Alan Hudson – Another dad recommendation here. Hudson was an Osgood-era playmaker and played in every game in the lead up to the final in 1970 – in this diamond formation no doubt he would have been able to create great service to the front. 9

ST: Peter Osgood – It doesn’t even take my old man to point me in the direction of this Chelsea legend. Peter Osgood – “The King of Stamford Bridge” and the only player to have a statue erected at the ground, he won the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup and scored over 150 goals for the club. 10

ST: Jimmy Greaves – Yes, Torres has just missed the cut – would you believe it? I’ve decided to complete my 11 with another Chelsea legend. Although he won no trophies in his time at the Bridge he still holds the club record for the most goals scored in a season with 41. 9

Manager: Jose Mourinho – A man referred to by certain pockets of Chelsea fans quite casually as “God”. Other than maybe Zola and Osgood this was the easiest decision to make in selecting this team. Back to back Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two league cups were an amazing record at the Bridge. We all know we shouldn’t have got rid of him and the whole of the Premier League still misses the man’s charisma. He is still The Special One. 10

Chelsea Total: 111

We were devastated when Joleon signed for Everton, the kind of devastation that is tinged with a little bit of pride.

Wolves Greatest Xl by Dave Blackhurst

GK: Phil Parkes

Tricky call this. I would argue that we’ve not had a world-class keeper since Bert Williams. I never saw him play so Phil gets the number 1 shirt. That’s not to disparage Parkes or any of the other goalies we’ve had over the years. Stowell, Burridge and Bradshaw were all fine players but Phil was the one I admired most. He was big, brave and could boot the ball miles – qualities that I cherished in the man between the sticks when I was 13.  8

RB: Geoff Palmer

Great hair, great attitude, great servant. An uncompromising full back with almost 500 appearances in the old gold and black, Palmer was local lad and life-long supporter. If it’s not to damn him with faint praise, Geoff was the type of solid professional that every team needs. Became a copper when he left the game, I’d like to think a solidly professional one.  8

CB: Frank Munro

Tough but stylish sums up Frank Munro. He started as a forward, was signed by us as a midfielder and served forever after as centre back, and a damn good one at that. There are quite a few opposing forwards who could vouch for Frank’s toughness. The Molineux faithful will vouch for his style. Football fans everywhere, with the exception of those in Leeds, rejoiced when one of Frank’s rare goals denied Revie’s side the double in ’72 and handed the title to Clough’s Derby. What a night. 9

CB: Joleon Lescott

We were devastated when Joleon signed for Everton, the kind of devastation that is tinged with a little bit of pride. We knew he was too good not to be snapped up and it was only a matter of time. He’d been talked up as a future star since joining the Wolves Academy and he didn’t disappoint. He had the skill, presence and vision required to be a top class defender.  An unfortunate knee injury (that gave conspiracy theorists a field day) kept him out of our first venture back in the Premiership. We like to think we would have survived if Lescott had been fit. We also like to believe he’ll come back when he’s had enough of City.   9

LB: Derek Parkin

Although he began as a right back, Bill McGarry moved him across to the left and there he stayed – forever it seemed. Parkin holds the record for most Wolves appearances and consequently is probably the player I’ve watched more than any other. He used the ball well and was never one to aimlessly boot it away if he could see an opportunity for a decent pass. If that opportunity was Waggy champing at the bit, so much the better. 8

RM: Kenny Hibbitt

We got Kenny for peanuts from Bradford Park Avenue in 1968 and for the next 16 years he gave 100% (we didn’t have 120% back then.) 114 goals in 574 games illustrates his attacking credentials but Hibbitt added the industry and creativity that marks out an accomplished midfielder. We loved him and when he came to the Molineux as coach with Bristol Rovers in the late 80’s he received the longest, loudest and most heartfelt ovation I’ve ever experienced.  9

CM: Ron Flowers

You could argue that, as a Wolves fan, I was born too late. By the 63-64 season most of the stars of the 50’s had hung up their boots and the glory days had come to an end. Mind you, the vast majority of the supporters had lived through that era and weren’t shy in pointing out that some poor so and so wasn’t fit to lace Mullen/Wright/Slater’s boots. If the vitriol didn’t stun the poor lad then the collective exhalations of beer and woodbine breath would. Ron, and my next choice, are the only players from the ‘Champions of the World’ team (Daily Mail) who were still playing regularly. An England stalwart who narrowly missed out on appearing in the ’66 World Cup final, Flowers was a strong, imposing player with a ferocious shot.  10

CM: Peter Broadbent

When the great George Best says you’re the player he most admired then you must have something going for you. Jimmy Greaves rated Broadbent too, as did regular crowds of 40,000 plus. Peter was a magician with the ball and a powerhouse in midfield. He was criminally underused by England, the prevailing theory being that Wolves already had their fair share of international players. The FA was obviously as useless then as it is today.   9

LM: Dave Wagstaffe

There was no more joyous sight than watching Waggy fly down the left, beat a defender or two and ping in a pinpoint cross. Then watch him do it again and again and again. He probably set up more goals than any other player of his era and was probably clattered into the advertising hoardings more than most as well. We absolutely loved him. 9

CF: Peter Knowles

Having a flawed genius for an idol can be trying at times. One week Knowles could be petty, disinterested and putting in yet another transfer request. The following week he would be sublime, bamboozling opponents with his skill and vision. He was by far the best player in the old second division for the two seasons Wolves played there. Things looked promising when we got back to the top flight in ‘67, none more so than the Dougan/Knowles partnership. Two seasons later, at 24, he quit football. He had it all but in the end he became ‘God’s Footballer’ (© Billy Bragg) and arguably one of the game’s greatest losses. We held on to his registration until ’82 when it became obvious, to one of the parties at least, that a Second Coming wasn’t on. Nice bloke though – when he first joined Wolves he was lodging with my mate’s neighbour and me and Alan used to call for him on a Sunday morning for a game of ‘three and in.’ 10

CF: Steve Bull

If Knowles was my idol then Bully was my hero. To have been able to see them play together would have been heaven. I won’t trot out The Tatter’s stats – suffice it to say that not only does he get into my best Wolves side, I’d also put him in my best side in the world ever. There may be more skilful players out there but none with more heart and more determination to break the back of the onion bag. Three against The Baggies and the old airplane celebration is the stuff of dreams. 10

Manager: Stan Cullis

Cullis was still the boss when I started watching Wolves and consequently wins the accolade as the best manager I’ve seen. I’m old enough to remember JFK’s assassination and the tremendous effect it had on people. That was nothing compared to the shock felt in Wolverhampton when Cullis was sacked a year later. His record as manager, especially in the 50’s, is incredible – I think he’d do it all again with this team. 10

Wolves Total: 109

Chelsea: 111 Wolves: 109

Though Wanderers put up a valiant fight a late Bull strike sadly only amounts to a consolation. Prior to that Greaves runs Lescott and Munro ragged, bagging an early brace which effectively kills off the game. Once in control Osgood, Hudson and Zola treat the Stamford Bridge faithful to a masterclass of stylish football with the little Italian scoring a third from a set-piece. There is a wonderful moment after the final whistle when Mourinho acknowledges Cullis as being the true maverick fore-thinker of the game.

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