England beat Moldova 5 -0 last Friday. This in itself is not a big deal (lets face it, it was against a team who didn’t even have names on their shirts, and none of those names had they had been there, were household).
England played well, and showed they had the talent to comfortably beat a weaker team. Great. There was one interesting event that seemed to be downplayed though, and that is my subject today.
Mr Steven Gerrard.
Stevie G has for the last 10 years been once of the best players in Europe, without a doubt. He scores consistently , and seems to be able to play anywhere in any system, much to the relief I imagine of his boyhood club Liverpool FC. This is a guy that single handedly (alleged) won the European Cup and FA cup for Liverpool. The FA cup win against West Ham being the only time a player for the opposition has really broke my heart, as he had no right to score “that” goal in a game we dominated. Anyway, move on.
In the lead up to the Euros, he was in and out of club and country teams with injury. In the Euros he was England’s best player, and a stand out leader. This season however, he looks a shadow of himself, and I’m wondering if we are now seeing a quick decline, a la Michael Owen, Ian Wright, etc. On Friday he came off at half time, and left Lampard on his own. A Lampard, who has won the European cup this year (as Captain), and didn’t play in the Euros through injury. Who also put his stamp all over the game, with and without the armband on.
For many years, people have said Gerrard and Lamps cannot play together. This is utter nonsense, they can, it just their egos cannot. For too many years Gerrard has been told he is better, because of his swashbuckling around in a red shirt. All those years of carrying a team are now showing, as they did last year on Jamie Carragher, and are also starting to show on Reina this year. Whereas Frank has just got on with his game of keeping Chelsea ticking along. Don’t forget, Mourinho wanted the two of them together at Chelsea, and he isn’t usually wrong.
“But Gerrard is England Captain!”, i hear you say. By default says I. Terry was too much of a liability to be captain, Ferdinand was too absent through injury, and for the Euros, so was Lampard. This left a lad who has experience of being a leader at the highest level. Not a bad shout at all. And so he played his heart out in the Euros knowing it was potentially his last chance. And now can make half a game, in a situation where he wasn’t stretched at all.
Now, Hodgson is in an situation, does he drop his captain, who in essence has done nothing wrong, for a guy who is about the same age, and the same may happen to him soon. Its a problem all round. The answer lays in the future, but there is no stand out candidate, except maybe Joe Hart, but goal keepers and armbands is a whole new debate ! I’m sure he would rather not drop him to save face with the captaincy, which has been a fiercely debated theme over the last couple of years, for one reason and another.
Watching Liverpool so far this season, its obvious that Shelby is being preferred, and Sterling and Joe Allen will soon be as well. These are average players who maybe taking over G’s place in the team. The lad is knackered, plain and simple.
So from world class to back of the class. Its a shame to see, but a reality. The key question is will he be around for the World Cup? Who knows ?
I’m off to the Ukraine game tomorrow, from which I might be able to spread some more light on the subject.