Ray Wilkins picks his best XI
Just a few days ago, there was a very interesting interview by Matt Lawton for the Daily Mail - the subject was Ray "Butch" Wilkins.
It is my opinion that whenever I see Wilkins on TV that he has nearly always come across as being level headed and probably a calming influence in any dressing room. I must admit to being surprised about his driving offences a few months ago as this seemed to be out of character and for an ex-player with so much knowledge of the game, it does seem somewhat surprising that he has found managerial roles really tough to come by.
He has often found himself more in the role as a #2 or a coach at clubs such as both Chelsea and much more recently Fulham. And here we are in February 2014 and poor Ray finds himself out of a job yet again less than two months after his appointment as head coach under manager Rene Meulensteen who did not last much longer.
So when I saw this headline attached to the interview, it was a bit of a shock but it was also a must read article. Below is a direct link to it:-
"Ray Wilkins Exclusive: My Battle with illness, depression......and those booze rumours"
I would much rather be remembering as the young player with mop of hair at Chelsea in the mid 70's - or the marauding midfielder for Manchester United and AC Milan when he was at the peak of his career. Even towards the end of his life as a player, his time at clubs such as Rangers and QPR still saw able to produce exceptional performances. As an England international, he was probably tainted by just one incident in 1986 with one tiny glimpse of a volatility that many of us had not seen before when he hurled the ball at the referee resulting in a red card. But apart from that - I remember Ray as a gifted and talented player with a cool head through the rest of his career.
Sky Fantasy Football
Sky's new "Fantasy Football" show may not be everybody's cup of tea but at least there are some interesting parts that appear regularly within the show. The one that is my favourite is when stars of the game past and present select their all-time eleven based on players that have actually played with. In the following clip we see Ray "Butch" Wilkins doing precisely this with a team based upon players from the 70's, mainly 80's and some that continued playing into the 90's and even this century that Wilkins had the pleasure of playing with.
It does make for some interesting viewing and it is a shame that only players of the professional game get a chance to put together a team like this even if it is just for fun. But I had thought so that there was in fact a way in which we could all do this with a little change added to the rules. Instead of the rest of us - the fans picking the players that we played with, why not select the best 11 players from the ones that we have actually seen play in the flesh. It does not necessarily have to be because you happened to see a player produce a mesmerizing performance that most of the rest of us will have never heard of, nor would you leave out a brilliant player if he had a stinker on the one day that you happened to be there.
I am sure many fans would base their eleven players on the team that they follow and anybody could quite easily do that. But for the purposes of this exercise I have formulated my 11 purely based on the other parameters that allow me now to do so. After quite a bit of thought the 11 that I have selected are shown underneath the following video.
From my list of players, you will probably be able to tell that I have not been to an actual game for a long, long while! In fact the last top level game that I attended I believe was in the Euro's in 1996 - it just became too expensive and for many years I was stuck in a job where a lot of my work was at the weekend unfortunately. It is never the same watching it on TV although for many of us it is the only option that we have.
My Watched XI
My goalkeeper is John Burridge - what a player. In one game I even saw him headbutt the post, was knocked out and came back on a few minutes later with his head all bandaged up and still in a complete daze. A legend to all the fans of the many clubs that he played for.
My defenders - Paolo Maldini, Paul McGrath, Micky Droy, Viv Anderson
I saw Maldini at Euro 96 - what a player he was. Paul McGrath is just a legend and I saw him playing for Manchester United in 1985. Micky Droy is the surprise inclusion and I saw the ex-Chelsea man in his days at Crystal Palace - just one of the hardest centre backs you will ever see. Viv Anderson I got to see probably at his peak when he was still with the exceptional Nottingham Forest team that conquered Europe twice in successive seasons under Brian Clough.
My Midfield - Tony Currie, John Robertson, Archie Gemill, John Barnes
The two Forest players I saw play in the same game at Ipswich Town but both had just fantastic careers and produced so many memorable moments. John Barnes I saw in his days at Watford when he was quicker and less bulky as he grew older. For me, his greatest performance was in the 15 or so minutes that he played against Argentina in the 1986 World Cup quarter final and destroyed the Argentine defense every time he got the ball and Linker should have scored again! Tony Currie was and is a legend and I managed to get a glimpse of his skills playing in a charity game for a Sheffield United Veterans (or "all-star") XI. Standing on the touch line with just a handful of people watching I was in awe especially when I got to retrieve the ball and pass it back to him so he could take a throw-in.
My Strikers - Gianfranco Zola, Andy Gray
Zola I saw play for Italy in Euro 96 and is just a class act - Chelsea were a very fortunate team the day that he signed for them. Andy Gray was for me one of the bravest strikers that I have ever seen and would put his head in sometimes where he knew he might well get hurt. Brave, stupid, crazy - the guy scored some great goals with both his head and feet.
On my bench I have Peter Shilton, Ricky Villa, Ossie Ardiles, Kenny Burns, Tony Morley, Brian Deane, Terry Butcher.
There are other players that I have seen play that are big names - its just that I do not have any recollection of seeing them personally. These would include Glenn Hoddle, Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside, Mark Hughes, Peter Shilton and Neville Southall. The list could go on and on and I am sure that if you look just at some of these names you must be wondering how I managed to pick the 11 that I did. The main reason is that the 11 I picked I can recall each of them actually playing clearly and for various reasons.
There were loads of articles on the old site and I have began to transfer some of the most popular ones over to this site.