Revisionism - Would players of yesteryear get shown up today?

Discussion in 'Football Forum' started by Murder on Zidane's Floor, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. Feb 12, 2018
    #1

    Murder on Zidane's Floor You'd better not kill Giroud

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    Title pretty self explanitory.

    After ready The Mixer by Michael Cox (cracking read by the way, highly recommend), I personally feel that while some players from bygone eras might still shine today, the average and actual level was so much lower.

    In my opinion, the average footballer was nowhere near the average footballer today. This begs the question, were the top players from the past anywhere near the top players today? Do we overstate the ability of ex pros and greats, believing they would slip straight into the starting 11 of a top side today?

    Likewise would "good, solid players today" look otherworldly if your zapped them back in time?

    This also got me thinking:

    The quality here is would make the lower leagues blush. Funnily the charge that defending is worse nowadays seems laughable when you consider the average centre back and goalkeeper from that era.

    Thoughts?
  2. Feb 12, 2018
    #2

    KingEric7 Stupid Conspiracy Enthusiast Wanker

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    This is one that comes to mind when I think about this:



    Any team defending like that today would probably get accused of throwing the game. I've not watched enough football from previous eras to really judge, but time on the ball and space on the field could be a very important point to consider when it comes to a topic like this.
  3. Feb 12, 2018
    #3

    17 Van der Gouw biffa bin

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    Raw talent hasn't changed, training and technique has.

    So if you take a young Van Basten and train him with today's coaches, methods and facilities, he's world class.

    Go back in time, abduct prime Van Basten and bring him to 2018 to drop into a modern game, and he's probably not as good.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  4. Feb 12, 2018
    #4

    Donovan_red7 Full Member

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    I think defenders from previous eras would have a harder time in the modern game, due to refs being much stricter with fouls and physicality in the modern game.

    Conversely I think attacking players would at least be as effective, for a similar reason. Although with the defensive side of the game being far more tactical these days I can see that offsetting it somewhat, but I still think there would be a net positive in favor of the attackers.
  5. Feb 12, 2018
    #5

    Nanook Full Member

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    I don’t think the 92/93 United title winning side would finish in the top 6 in today’s Premier League.
  6. Feb 12, 2018
    #6

    red_devil83 Banned

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    /thread
  7. Feb 12, 2018
    #7

    noodlehair "It's like..."

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    Depends how far back you want to go.

    In terms of defending, it was definitely on average a LOT better 8-10 years ago. You only have to think of some of the players around back then. Games between the top sides in the PL at the moment are nearly always decided by basic defensive errors, where as go back 10 years and more often than not teams really had to earn a goal in these fixtures.

    Partly down to different tactical approaches, but also partly because the players around at the moment, in England at least, just aren't as good and don't set up as well defensively. Even the supposed better defensive players make basic errors multiple times a game. As a result a player like Salah or Kane can have a field day just by pouncing on them.

    Go back further and the conditioning and raining of players gets worse and as a result you have a lower average standard of performance.
  8. Feb 12, 2018
    #8

    L1nk Full Member

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    It certainly begs the question would Pele have scored anywhere near as many goals as he apparently did back then, in the modern game.
  9. Feb 12, 2018
    #9

    freeurmind Requested ban until 01/01/2019

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    Also important to consider the rule changes. The backpass law and the new offside law have made defending a lot more difficult.
  10. Feb 12, 2018
    #10

    KingEric7 Stupid Conspiracy Enthusiast Wanker

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    Without trying to start an argument or seem judgmental, I do think there is something in people that enjoys the feeling of expertise, and that quite often this can manifest in strong views about previous generations of television, film, sport, etc. It's something fewer people spend time looking into, so this sort of thing can get incorporated into people's personality as a bit of an 'angle' in conversation, I think.

    That's still not to make any strong statements about the quality of footballers from previous generations, but it's relevant to consider this sort of thing when you see people being adamant that such and such a player from back in the day was of a certain quality. I feel like some dull films are possibly championed as being brilliant because of this sort of psychology.
  11. Feb 12, 2018
    #11

    Fortitude TV/Monitor Expert Scout

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    This thread has been done before and the conclusion generally is that there is just too much to factor in as contrasts between generations.

    For example, it's been said so many times that players in past eras played on awful pitches in kit that was not scientifically honed; that offensive players had to deal with tackles from behind, or scissoring from the side; that two-footed tackling, elbows and other contentious uses of the body were all fair play - in modern football all of that is red card stuff; that diet was nothing an athlete would partake in now and so on and so forth.

    The question goes two ways: could modern players hack the above? What happens to the Messi's and co. when they're suddenly in games with players whose sole intention is to take them out by far means or foul? How would modern players cope with man-marking, proper man-marking, and so on?

    I think the Serie A of the 80's and 90's would destroy the spirit and dynamism of modern football, also, because it wasn't reliant on athleticism moreso than studiousness, miserly offensive actions and absolutely brilliant defenders. Teams struggle with inferior versions of the same thing now, so to face masters of it would bring things to a crashing halt.

    There's a notion that you have to match athleticism with athleticism to have a footing in a game, and that's how a lot of these discussions are approached. The reality is that deep banks of bodies has never been truly overcome in any era and it's just as hard to break down now, when done well, as it ever was.

    In an open, free-running game of football with modern rules, of course the odds are tilted, but who is to say the game would be open or that the players and managers of the past would seek such a method to tackle their modern counterparts?
  12. Feb 12, 2018
    #12

    Schneckerl Full Member

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    When you're talking about the 80s/90s difference is extremely overrated. The absolutely best players like Maradona, Ronaldo or Platini could do it in this era too after short adjustment. It's still a game of fundamentals and those didn't change.
  13. Feb 12, 2018
    #13

    Schneckerl Full Member

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    Quality '17 effort from the most expensive defenders in the World here

  14. Feb 12, 2018
    #14

    Annihilate Now! ...or later, I'm not fussy Scout

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    If a player of yesteryear was around today, like Best, Maradona, Pele etc. they would have all the talent but be raised/conditioned like the footballers of today... so they would still be world class footballers simply because of that talent.

    Likewise if Messi was playing in the 80's, he wouldn't be like the Messi of today, but the Messi of the 80's would be the best player in the world (alongside Maradona)
  15. Feb 12, 2018
    #15

    KingEric7 Stupid Conspiracy Enthusiast Wanker

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    Don't think it's the same sort of situation, to be honest. The right back in the Milan/Madrid game is allowed to jog most of the length of the pitch unchallenged; the City defender falling over in the box threw the rest of his teammates a bit, I think (look at Silva, for example), even if the reaction after that wasn't the best.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  16. Feb 12, 2018
    #16

    GBBQ Full Member

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    Would the Messi of the 80s have had access to HGH in his youth though?
  17. Feb 12, 2018
    #17

    Annihilate Now! ...or later, I'm not fussy Scout

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    Nah they'd have put him on one of those stretcher rack things and turned the wheel.
  18. Feb 12, 2018
    #18

    Bwuk Full Member

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    Players are far better athletes and sports science is miles ahead nowadays.

    George Best could turn up to games drunk and comfortably be the best player on the park. Wouldn’t happen anymore.
  19. Feb 12, 2018
    #19

    Eriku Full Member

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    I agree with Cruyff’s notion that football is played with the head, and that the legs are merely the tools. The top top players think fast, see solutions others don’t and seem to be unflappable under pressure. I reckon the legends of the past would be outstanding today as well.
  20. Feb 12, 2018
    #20

    Paul_Scholes18 Full Member

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    Better drugs illegal/legal and more intensive training I think has made players better and can play faster football. I say tactically and in terms of reading the game I am not sure if the average player is better.
  21. Feb 12, 2018
    #21

    giorno Full Member

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    The average player is physically several levels above. Technically, tactically, there's not much of a difference, but the increased athleticism has made the game faster and thus harder on the technically/tactically average player

    For the best, there's not much of a difference imho

    The biggest differences are training methods, sport science, and quality of equipment(pitches, balls, etc)

    Btw, have you seen liverpool's goals yesterday?
  22. Feb 12, 2018
    #22

    Gio 4 times Redcafe Draft Winner

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    Yeah, that's always the key consideration for me when looking back at anyone and trying to assess if they'd cut it with less time and space. Somebody switching play with 30 yard passes at the base of the midfield under no pressure shouldn't impress - in any era, frankly.

    It can be a difficult comparison though because:
    • Poor pitches are harder to play football on. A short passing game simply wasn't a viable strategy in the 70s and 80s because you couldn't rely on the condition of the pitches through the winter months to pass it along the ground consistently. You had to find ways around it and develop a more vertical style of play. And we've seen the impact in the modern game of a rare slightly below par pitch, slowing down the game and frustrating technical players, but things were a lot worse in the past. Look at the 1986 World Cup final - the first couple of 10-yard passes from kick-off bobble into the air and that was just normal. The pitches were horrendous and took a lot of technical ability to cope (or conversely saw some less gifted hardmen survive because it gave them a mandate to launch it).
    • The majority of our perception of the game back in the days comes from World Cups - summer tournaments in hot countries where the pace of play is inevitably slower. Even worse when factoring in the altitude of Mexico and a lot of the games in 1970 and 1986 for instance. But then you watch a lot of club football from the late 70s on and there was often a lot more running and proper pressing. So it's not necessarily representative of the wider game in the same way that the stiflingly hot Holland v Mexico in 2014 - which ended up at near walking pace - isn't representative of where we are today.
    • A lot of players have survived and adapted within their own careers. For example, someone like Maldini was playing at the top level in the 1980s through to the 2000s, and despite being older and slower, was still top class. Same for Giggs and many others. They are not the physical specimens they were when first coming through but they're still standing out later in their career, despite the apparent jump in standards.
    To be honest you could probably pick a few random games from this season's Premier League and come up with some similar compilations. For example, Liverpool v United last year had some of the most tedious and risk averse long ball I've seen in a long time. But it's not always fair to cherrypick one video as representative of an era. I can see future generations looking at Messi skinning Boateng in the semi-final a couple of years ago and thinking the defending was comically bad, but it wouldn't be a fair reflection of their careers.
    Van Basten is one player who arguably would look a lot better in the modern game, for three reasons:
    1. Technically he was incredible and capable of finishing off difficult chances in almost any circumstance - on the deck, in the air, off either feet. Those qualities are timeless.
    2. He'd be in his element in the more attacker-friendly environment of the modern game: fewer packed defences, less negative football, more chances created, more supportive refereeing, more open offside trap - all amplified in the flat track bully dynamic of the current top leagues.
    3. He wouldn't be kicked out of the game. His legacy wouldn't be a case of 'what if' and we are left to wonder how great he would have become if not for having to retire at 28, having carried an ankle injury, the result of defenders having freedom to kick the feck out of strikers, for many of the best years of his career.
  23. Feb 12, 2018
    #23

    Fortitude TV/Monitor Expert Scout

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    There are lots of sizeable differences on the tactical front, some for the better and other for the worse. Modern players are not honed on turgid, grinding football that reached it's apex/nadir in the 1990 world cup, under such stifling conditions, they wouldn't know what to do and they don't have the patience, nuance that gets honed in such an arena because they've never experienced its sheer depths.

    Athleticism has limitations if only one side is trying to play expansive football.
  24. Feb 12, 2018
    #24

    Classical Mechanic Full Member

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    :lol:

    Bloody hell that's terrible!
  25. Feb 12, 2018
    #25

    Skills Snitch

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    I think there is. The average technique is much better. Footballers of yester year dribble with the ball on average a meter infront of the them while the current hardly let the ball go beyond a half a foot.

    A subtle difference from 10 years ago is the ball is actually. The current footballs are so much different than just 2006 even.
  26. Feb 12, 2018
    #26

    KingEric7 Stupid Conspiracy Enthusiast Wanker

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    Seems fair. I'm sympathetic to be honest when it comes to the football boots issue with regards to players from older generations, too - stuff like that has played on my mind in the past during sport.
  27. Feb 12, 2018
    #27

    giorno Full Member

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    No it isn't, which is why there's so few truly great dribblers, and passers, in the modern game, compared to yesteryear
  28. Feb 12, 2018
    #28

    Gio 4 times Redcafe Draft Winner

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    Digressing a little, but it's something I wrestle with up here. Has the standard of player produced in Scotland clearly declined or have other countries got their shit together and improved? I think it's a bit of both to be honest and we probably don't focus enough on the latter issue.
  29. Feb 12, 2018
    #29

    oneniltothearsenal Arse Lover

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    @Fortitude and @Gio have already covered my opinions fairly well. I do want to emphasize that I think technique is timeless. Spend enough hours practicing with the ball and the level of technique develops. There was some stories for instance around Walcott which used to wind up Arsenal fans, how Walcott was quoted to have said he didn't like or need technique training because it didn't fit his game (kick and run I guess). No idea if that's true but the point I think is true is that if players haven't grown up focusing on practicing technique they just won't have it. A lot of classic players you read about grew up practicing technique all the time in tight alleys, on rough land, etc and all that practice serves towards mastery level in technique. In any era.

    As a side note I always wondered if the money was reverse from SA to Europe and if the Europeans had to move half way around the world to play in the top leagues, which Europeans would still have excelled outside their home countries in foreign lands with different language? Here I feel its more a mentality/personality thing.
  30. Feb 12, 2018
    #30

    KingEric7 Stupid Conspiracy Enthusiast Wanker

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    Not sure I can offer the best perspective on this given my limited viewing experience of Scottish football and football from older generations, but I suppose if football emerged out of Britain in the first place, there could've been greater popularity and enthusiasm in Scotland than in most other countries and a head start of sorts in terms of the footballing culture and facilities available, but as decades passed and football became more and more of an established worldwide sport, a country like Scotland with a population of just over 5 million inhabitants was somewhat left in the dust. I don't know if there's something to be said also given the close proximity with England for top Scottish youngsters/players being hoovered up by Premiership clubs, competing more and more with foreign imports, under managers that cannot afford to even have one bad season, etc, and basically not having the best footballing upbringing.

    Never really thought about it, so apologies if I couldn't offer much of an answer to that, but it is interesting come to think of it given the way people talk about Law, Dalglish et al.
  31. Feb 12, 2018
    #31

    Hansa Full Member

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    I have to disagree. The reason why, is there is very little space and time on the ball today. Take a look at the highlights of the WC final between "The finest team in history" and Italy in 1970. You'll piss yourself laughing from the lack of pressing. Walking - yes, walking - unchallenged with the ball happened regularly.
  32. Feb 12, 2018
    #32

    beergod Full Member

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    If Paul Scholes can handle the increased workload that the mid-late 2000s era started, anyone can with the right training and application. Small, asthmatic, and ginger isn't the prototype for success in the modern game. I think that the older generations with modern pitches, balls, sports science, and boots would make them look a bit silly because they are footballers first and not athletes above all else.
  33. Feb 12, 2018
    #33

    Ian Reus Ended 14 years of Grand National sweepstakes

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    Different ball game. Literally.
    They might as well have played with a medicine ball 40 years ago.
    Still think the bar has been raised so high that a lot of players from yesteryear probably wouldn't even be professional level in today's game.
  34. Feb 12, 2018
    #34

    Fortitude TV/Monitor Expert Scout

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    World Cups in Mexico at the peak of summer always produce walking football and always will, unless you want players to drop dead out there!
  35. Feb 12, 2018
    #35

    KingEric7 Stupid Conspiracy Enthusiast Wanker

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    The mental/psychological side of the game is something that interests me, because there's a fair bit of stuff going on with this that I'm not sure is often considered. Nowadays for example, you have something that I brought up in another thread, and it's social media, and the possibility of a player at any point basically becoming an internet phenomenon if he makes a mistake, or if he even does anything that is a bit outside the norm. I wasn't on here at the time, but I did read over the classic threads on here a while back, and found the amusing Ashley Cole team photo thread and what people had done with that. Stuff like that goes to show how easily something can go viral, along with other examples like Phil Jones' facial expressions, Zaza's penalty miss at the Euros, etc. I was actually struggling to just find a video of the latter that hadn't been edited and made into some sort of dance video.

    I feel like this sort of stuff could be a very big deal in the thinking (even if only subconsciously) of modern day footballers. It's something that could really get in the way of just expressing and being spontaneous on the pitch, and is something that players from previous generations didn't have to put up with. It's another big thing to think about I think when thinking of how players would turn out if they'd been raised in this generation, because it could have a serious impact on their willingness to take risks. That being said, if you were to just pluck someone from the 80s, say, and put him in a team just for a one-off game against another team, it could be surprising how much more willing these players would be to take on their man, although there would obviously be the fitness issue to consider, as well as any adaptations that would have to be made in terms of speed of decision-making, players closing down, etc.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2018
  36. Feb 12, 2018
    #36

    Hansa Full Member

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    Yeah, probably not the ultimate example of the slow pace. But I'd really like to see statisticians have a go at games of yesteryear, measuring the average distance covered. Aston Villa won the old 42-game first division using only 14 players. I'm pretty sure that either the technical skills went completely south or games were played at a less than optimal pace (against probably equally tired players).
  37. Feb 12, 2018
    #37

    Mciahel Goodman Worst Werewolf Player of All Times Staff

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    Ferguson was asked whether the likes of Di Stefano, Puskas, Maradona, Pele, et al, would hold their own in the modern game alongside Messi and Ronaldo. His reply was correct I think. The best players of any generations could play in any generation.

  38. Feb 12, 2018
    #38

    Fortitude TV/Monitor Expert Scout

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    But then you would have to contextualise that against modern football and the reason players can go hard for so long in the way that they do. Give old teams squads of 20-odd interchangeable players and the output is going to change, equally, strip today's teams down to 14 players and see how long they entertain all the dynamic pressing for in a season.

    If you haven't seen it, take a look at the '66 world cup. The pace and aggression throughout the tournament is not what people seem to associate with the football played 50+ years ago. It's very easy to cherry-pick awful games from any era. There was walking football in both South Africa and Brazil during the last two World Cups. Extreme climate will always force players to slow down to a relative crawl. Altitude does the same, and you can watch any S.A qualifier in Bolivia for evidence of that.
  39. Feb 12, 2018
    #39

    Denis79 Full Member

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    Let's reverse the question, How good would Pele, Maradona, Best be if they were born in this era and got to develop with todays methods? Talent is talent no matter from what year.

    As @beergod said:
    They are footballers first and not athletes above all else.

    Imagine how good some stars of old would have been if they got to develop in this day and age.
  40. Feb 12, 2018
    #40

    Nanook Full Member

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    He was never going to say “no, they would be shit” was he?