Lampard shines, but time for Gerrard to go?
Published: 16.09.12 / Written by: David Gold
It will not happen, because he has just been given the England captaincy, but Steven Gerrard’s time at the top is surely at an end.
Roy Hodgson is taking his men towards Brazil in 2014, and Gerrard will be 34 at that competition.
There is surely only room for one of him and Frank Lampard in the England team. They have barely been able to play together when at the peak of their powers during the last decade, so how they will form a cogent partnership at the combined age of 70 will be a mystery. There is good reason to argue Gerrard should be the one to make way. He, unlike Lampard, has tended to have a more dynamic game, charging forward with the ball at his feet and raking long passes. Lampard has shown in recent times that he can become a deeper lying midfielder, keeping the ball moving well in midfield and offering a goal threat.
He is probably more suited an England side looking to pass the ball through midfield better, along with Tom Cleverley and Jack Wilshere. An England team which looks to get the ball on the ground and keep it seems more capable of harbouring Lampard than Gerrard.
It can also be useful for the younger players not to have Gerrard around. There can be a tendency when a lot of inexperienced players play together to look for the experienced man to pass to when attacking, but without one they are forced to take the initiative themselves and take on the responsibility for creating. And players like Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Wilshere, Cleverley and co are more creative than Gerrard.
Of course Gerrard’s case is underlined by his performance at this summer’s European Championship, where he was one of England’s better players. His discipline in front of the defence answered some doubters, and he was one of the most effective players going forward. But the Liverpool man was playing in an ultra defensive system in which the emphasis was placed on team discipline. Put him a side which is trying to control and attack and it could be a different story. Attacking gives players more freedom, but with it, responsibility to make intelligent decisions and pass the ball quickly, accurately and at pace. Gerrard could be good at that, but he is no longer in his prime and England arguably have a better player at that sort of play in Lampard.
Gerrard has already this season looked uncomfortable at times for Liverpool, as they try and play a more possession style of football. His all action nature and occasional indisciplined, ‘Roy of the Rovers’ style of football is all well and good for a team chasing the game and looking to get back into it, but not for one who are looking to control the match. He would surely be better used as a role model to sit on the bench and come on when England are struggling in matches.