International Break best ever 11 – 2nd Central Defender
Our next choice is the second central defender.
Some managers like their no-nonsense centre-halves so much that they have two-or sometimes even three-of them. I think Bob Paisley is the only successful manager with two ball-playing centre-halves in Hansen and Lawrenson. I’m a traditionalist. I like one of each.
Billy McNeill was partnered for a long time by John Clark,probably the most under-rated player in our long history. And it pains me to pass him over,but I can’t leave out George Connelly. This was a man who should have achieved everything that there is to achieve,instead he achieved notoriety. But that came later. Allow me to tell you why he is in this eleven.
George was one of the fabled Quality Street Gang,the successors to The Lisbon Lions,had everything gone to plan. And probably the highest-rated. First to break through in 1968-after his legendary keepie-uppie display-he then thoroughly embarrassed John Greig in the 69 final. Took the ball off him like sweeties off a wean,waltzed it into the net.
This seemed to give George a bit of belief,much needed because for all his talent,he was ridiculously shy. He couldn’t do the dressing room banter,apparently. And some of his colleagues didn’t help either. Two who definitely did help were David Hay and David Cattenach,and you didn’t want to upset them too much. As a result,George was largely left to concentrate on his football.
And his career was getting into a fair swing.
Barely 21,George faced the daunting might of Leeds United at Elland Road. They were a legendary team,supremely skilled,but with a barely hidden seam of outright thuggery. George was picked by many as Man of the Match in the first leg,and scored the winner. He certainly wasn’t one to be intimidated on the pitch,even as his demeanour off it puzzled Jock and others.
Everything on the pitch was rosy for George Connelly. Jock compared him to Frank Beckenbauer-and nobody disagreed! He won title after title,POTY,Scotland caps. He took his preferred role alongside Billy McNeill. Nobody came near him on the field for the quality of his play.
But off field,the storms were brewing. I don’t want to go into that,you can google it. I’ve heard various rumours,but it’s a private tragedy and I’m prepared to leave it at that.
His last full season with us,72-73,he won POTY. Had things not gone spectacularly wrong,he could have won it for the next decade. He was only 24. But he burned bright for those few years.
Honourable mentions in the role would be superfluous. Once you’ve said John Clark and George Connelly,you’ve said it all. But I’m really gutted that I couldn’t find a space for Pat Stanton in this eleven. Jock usually played him in central defence at Hibs,but for the decade afterwards,his managers played him in midfield. Jock got him in a swap for Jackie Mac,Snr,and put him into central defence again. A revelation. He disappointed me in two ways though-one,that crazy career ending toe injury,and two,that we hadn’t signed him earlier. Aye,he really was that good.
Saltires en Seville ,,,,
To partner Big Roy I elected on Johan Mjallby 184 games (1998-2004) x15 goals, instead of
Joos Valgaeren 169 games (2000-2005) x 10 goals. It was close, as both make my criteria and I loved Joos for his quiet no complaints and no-nonsense attitude to doing his job. A real stalwart, the kind Napoleon relied on in his Imperial (old) Guard.
Johan makes my team ahead of some great players because he was so reliable for longer. Also, feel his presence helped ensure Henke was settled for longer. Just my hunch. However, he stands the test of time as an enduring favourite in his own right. His performances in the Seville season stand out in my mind and particularly away at Anfield and Boavista where he was rock solid, using all his experience to hold the back line together. Big Dolf is my kind of player. Quietly effective, speaks when he needs to and others pay attention. Not the tallest Central defence but imperious in the air with Roy beside him, (both around 187cm) However, their other qualities and with Boruc coming out to wipe out everything that moved above them, it would be a partnership that would combine to work well.
The big one from gladiator gets the nod.
Well Bobo certainly coulda played that part and he is probably bigger than the fella and certainly at least as scary .
Big Bobo was a fecking mountain of man and Mon deserves a ton of praise not only for finding him but the way he convinced him and the ( lack of ) fee paid for him at the time . He must be in the top ten Celts for value for money and for penny pinchers that list is quite long , and perhaps will be a future article .
He wasnt a football player you see . He was warchief of a tribe who just like Eddie Murphy in that movie decided to see the West for himself , followed the crowds and decided he could play that position better than the little one who was currently trying in vain . And thus he became a defender for a while .
No wonder the French just cleaned up while they have easy access to such markets we can only dream about .
As a player his biggest flaw was easily ball control as he had little but his physique and natural athleticism helped make up for that massively . Thinking about it now he was basically tailor made for the Scottish game where its not soo much skill but grit . And for a long ball team he was their kryptonite which meant they had to try and play a wee bit and our actual good ball players then killed them . Yep old Martin got good service out of Bobo , Wgs not soo much although when he was brought in from the cold that time ( amongst talk that PL had banned him from the first team due to not moving on and sitting on his big salary ) the big fella did exactly what it says on the tin .
Jose seen his lack of ball skills as a weakness and subsequently had him successfully targeted in Seville which I have read many say cost us the game but I certainly dont subscribe to that theory . There was wave after wave of multiple men attacks taking place with Jose happy to throw men forward knowing the heat and energy already expended would stop quick counterattacks , the only thing which they had to fear at that time .
Perhaps Seville will be blogged about on here one day so I will leave it at that . I will admit that Lovenkrands got some joy out of big Bobo in later years though the system left him exposed then.
I am safe in the knowledge that my picks for central defence when played together could easily intimidate and literally look down upon most of the footballing world .
JUst stop for a moment and imagine Virgil and Bobo together at the back , holy crap .
So yep my second twin tower at the back is Bobo Balde .