The club verses country row has exploded again this week after Steven Gerrard’s hamstring injury during England’s 2-1 defeat to France. Liverpool claim they had an agreement with the FA and Fabio Capello that Gerrard would only play a maximum of an hour in the friendly. However the Liverpool man was substituted with five minutes to go after injury. The game was effectively over with twenty minutes to go, so why did Capello feel it necessary to keep Steven Gerrard on the pitch?
Fabio Capello can use as many excuses as he wants, but the agreement was in place between the F.A and Liverpool. There was scope to substitute Gerrard during the game but the Italian chose not to take this action. It was not like Gerrard or England were even playing that well. Capello can use as many excuses as he wishes in relation to this, Liverpool are right to be furious at him.
In defence of the manager, it was a difficult night for Fabio Capello and England because of the players that he was without for the game. Jack Wilshere was unavailable and the injuries sustained to Gareth Barry and Rio Ferdinand forced Capello’s hand to a certain extent. Would England have been humiliated in the second half if Gerrard was taking out of the inexperienced midfield. The answer is probably yes, but that is no excuse for Capello to have kept the midfielder on the pitch. If Capello was concerned with his options from the bench, why did he pick such an inexperienced side. Capello can’t expect one senior player to carry the burden of his selection. Gerrard’s injury was not Capello’s fault – it could have happened at any time in the game – but by leaving the player on in a game that was effectively over, was highly irresponsible.
The strong reaction from Liverpool is totally understandable. Darren Burgess, part of Roy Hodgson’s coaching department expressed his feelings on his Twitter page.
‘Unbelievable from all associated with England and English FA with regards to SGs injury. Completely ignored agreement and past history. Completely amateurish and now we pay for their incompetence. Absolutely disgraceful.’
The angry response can be understood in the context of Liverpool’s season so far. They seem to be getting it together and moving up the table and then an injury to their best player. For Liverpool, Gerrard is their most important asset, and an asset that will get them out of trouble. To watch the game, and see your player get injured twenty minutes after England has agreed to substitute him must be infuriating to watch. Liverpool have lowered their stance on this issue but are still clearly angry at the FA and Fabio Capello.
Although Liverpool have backed down on their initial anger and have accepted Capello had to break the agreement, you feel that this might just be a diplomatic stance to escape any punishment for the Twitter rant. The issue surrounding this injury is Gerrard himself. He loves playing for England and has been England’s best performer in 2010. Has his own determination to prevent defeat got the better of him on this occasion. His attitude to play for England is exceptional, and England fans appreciate it, but after this injury will Liverpool expect the England captain to put their club first.