FanCast columnist Fanos Kyriacou cannot understand how Steven Gerrard could ever be considered World Class and suggests that maybe Frank Lampard shouldn’t be the one getting the wrath from disgruntled England supporters.
Over the last two days I have seen most people lay the blame of England not qualifying for Euro 2008 squarely on the shoulders of Steve McClaren, for the tactics he used and the personnel he selected to deploy those tactics. I think it’s fair enough to blame him as he was an absolutely clueless (although I do think a certain Mr Venables had a lot of influence over the ginger one).
I have also seen many, many England fans once again slaughtering the performance of Frank Lampard, and rightly so as he was indeed completely anonymous until stepping up to stick the penalty away. Now I’m not Lampard’s biggest fan by any stretch of the imagination but I do have some sympathy for him when it comes to England. The reason for that sympathy comes in the form of Mr ‘world class’ Steven Gerrard. Everyone lambastes Lampard saying he never plays well for England and that because he is in the team it stifles the abilities of Gerrard who many a misguided England fan laud as being a world class midfield performer. I would argue that it is the other way around and that it is Lampard’s game that is affected because of the Liverpool captain being in the team, and anyway, when was the last time Stevie G played well for England?
Steven Gerrard is not a world class player, never has been and never will be. A top class international has the ability to keep hold of the ball and create opportunities for his strikers. He should know when to play it long and when to play it short as keeping hold of the ball is of paramount importance in international football. As far as I can tell the only thing Gerrard is good at is running towards the opposition and scoring the odd goal and trying to play those Hollywood sixty yard passes to the front man. Even Rafa Benitez recognises that Gerrard is not the player who can play a calm controlled game as highlighted in the recent Merseyside derby when the Spaniard’s reason for substituting him was that he needed to calm the game down. This proves that Stevie G is not even the most important player for Liverpool; I would argue the accolade for that title goes to Xabi Alonso.
All the talk before the game was that Gerrard should start in midfield alongside Gareth Barry with Lampard as substitute. My question was why should it be Gerrard on the pitch and not Lampard? Since Lampard has returned from injury, he has been in fantastic form for Chelsea, scoring goals and making assists. By contrast, Gerrard has still been struggling to regain his best form for his club. Lampard has proved time and again at club level that he can do what he does best when playing alongside a defensive midfielder scoring plenty of goals, and that is why he should have started alongside Gareth Barry against Croatia on Wednesday with Gerrard occupying a place on the bench. This would have freed the Chelsea man to get forward and support what should have been two strikers up front.
If ever Gerrard’s deficiencies as an England captain were shown up it was when David Beckham was brought on to replace the headless chicken that is Shaun Wright-Phillips. To my mind Beckham completely embarrassed Gerrard in that he showed him how a world class midfielder and leader should perform for his country. If Gerrard is ever going to be an influential player on the world stage then he needs to stop believing the hype and start to improve his game.