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Gerrard can be England's leading man

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Phil McNulty | 13:50 UK time, Saturday, 5 June 2010

World Cup 2010: Rustenburg

Fabio Capello calls it "the curse of the captain" - now he must hope the man he is believed to have thought too timid to lead England breaks the spell.

Capello set out a simple line of succession for the captaincy when he appointed John Terry, but the Italian's preferred choice was sacked amid personal problems and his successor Rio Ferdinand's South African World Cup adventure was over before it began.

So Gerrard, third in line even though he was the first captain Capello selected to audition for the job, steps forward with the task of repeating the inspirational leadership he demonstrates at Liverpool for his country.

Frank Lampard, installed as vice-captain after Ferdinand's knee injury forced his departure before the end of England's first training session, gave Gerrard a glowing reference.

He said: "I think he will do the job he does for Liverpool, in which he's been fantastic. It will mean everything to him to captain England at the World Cup. Steven has got that quiet way about him off the pitch, but everybody respects him and he is an inspirational player."

It is Gerrard's "quiet way" that is understood to have caused Capello concern and persuaded him to place the armband elsewhere. Now he has it back by a combination of default and ill-fortune and has been presented with the game's biggest stage to demonstrate he is up to the job.

There have been suggestions Gerrard is something of a reluctant England captain. An introspective individual despite the powerhouse performances that have won silverware for Liverpool almost single-handedly on occasions, Gerrard has often given the impression that he has enough on his plate defining his own role in England's team without carrying the cares of captaincy as well.

He is also still being used in a role not strictly designed to bring out his best, lurking on the left flank with licence to roam. There is a sense that he would prefer either a central midfield role or being dropped in just behind Wayne Rooney - but Capello is clearly reluctant to grant him that wish.

steve_gerrard595.jpg

Gerrard insisted recently that there would be no repeat of his miserable Euro 2004 campaign when he fretted in his Portugal hotel room about his Liverpool future as Jose Mourinho attempted to take him to Chelsea.

No distractions was the message - but he has been presented with plenty to occupy his mind should he choose let it wander again.

Gerrard, now 30, arrived in South Africa as manager Rafael Benitez left Liverpool, and as Real Madrid's interest started to gather momentum, with Mourinho once again a central figure.

Spanish newspaper Marca, famed for close connections with the Bernabeu, devoted its front page to Gerrard this week and former Anfield team-mate Xabi Alonso - whose departure bitterly disappointed England's latest captain - rolled out the welcome mat.

Gerrard has insisted all deliberations on his future must wait until after the World Cup, and now he has England's captaincy to crystallise his thoughts.

And, despite many supporters mysteriously believing England might be better off with someone else occupying his place in Capello's side, Gerrard is fully equipped with all the tools to make a success of the job.

No-one can seriously believe Gerrard is anything less than 100% committed to delivering for England. This outstanding player is respected not just by his England team-mates, but around the football world.

He has thrived on responsibility at Liverpool and despite a chequered history as England captain, Capello saw no reason to consider any other members of his squad as replacement for Ferdinand.

England and Capello do not want Gerrard to undergo a transformation into a fist-pumping, patriotic leader of men or issue tub-thumping jingoistic rhetoric - they simply want him to be the world-class player he undoubtedly is and finally shine at a major showpiece.

Injured for the 2002 World Cup in Japan, badly distracted at Euro 2004 and subdued in Germany four years ago, if Gerrard is going to make an indelible mark at international level, it is arguably now or never.

Indeed, he may just flower away from the woes of Liverpool that dragged him down into a decline below his normal standards last season.

Capello can help him cope with any additional pressure he may feel. He has never quite grasped the interest that surrounds the man with the armband in England, believing all his players have leadership responsibilities and the role itself is purely symbolic. He has never bought into the hoopla that surrounds the captaincy.

Terry remains a natural leader on the pitch, and it was Chelsea's captain who made sure he was one of the first to greet Michael Dawson with a warm handshake when he arrived on the margins of England's training session after his arrival in Rustenburg.

So Gerrard should not feel the need to take all of the weight on his shoulders. If he ever needed the perfect platform to show he can be as indispensible for England as he has become for Liverpool, then Ferdinand's misfortune and this South African World Cup have just provided it.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Gerrard captain?Hope it helps raise his game!

  • Comment number 2.

    Hopefully the added responsibility will shake him out of the slumber he's been in for the past 12 months. This past season has been the worst of his career.

    He still has the ability to be a talismanic figure though. If he catches fire for a few weeks, like he has done in the past for Liverpool, he could be a top captain. But it's far from clear-cut.

    http://twoyellowcards.co.uk/

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Should have made Terry captain again if he's such a great leader - Bridge isn't in the squad, he's probably not even in the continent of Africa - it's a dead story - all these questions about Gerrard's 'quiet manner' are a bit of red herring - he's captained a champions league winning team and now doubt he's a worthy captain for Liverpool, one of the biggest teams in the country - the captain's role is over rated anyway

  • Comment number 6.

    Their is a god. With Ferdinand injured we can put somebody with talent, who does not make stupid errors due to their laziness, at the back. Why it is assumed a blow that he is not playing is beyond me he is well over rated.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good blog goes into a lot of detail regarding his long and successful career. My view is that with him being slightly low on confidence on the back of a very poor season by his high standards at club level he might struggle to balance being an international captain with playing great football. There is no doubt that he is a fantastic footballer but he has never really reached his full potential for England before and surely this opportunity is harder than any of the others. He is under more pressure this time and will be getting more media attention. Once again it looks like he won't be playing in his favourite position due to Lampard which makes it doubly hard for him.

    I agree that this tournamnet could make or break him as an international player. It is his hardest challenge yet but if he succeeds it will also bear the greatest rewards of his career. He could even lift the world cup.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why the English believe the role of captain has an influence on play.The role is just ceremonial.If I need a fellow pro like myself to encourage me to give my all on the pitch for my country either by example or through words then there's something seriously wrong with me.Capello's probably still bemused by all the fuss over the captainship and would have preferred to give it to the most senior player.

  • Comment number 9.

    I don't see what difference making him captain is going to make.He has been largely ineffective in all the last major tournaments for England, and any Liverpool fan will tell what a poor season he has just had.
    I would like to see myself proved wrong, but in all honesty i cant see England making the last eight never mind the semi's or the final.
    Still we can all live in hope.

  • Comment number 10.

    The captain's curse is once again going to rear it's head as an open secret is rumored to be being exposed in the tabloids tomorrow. If it does, in an unsympathetic way I will only despair at the undermining nature of the London press. Gerrard is a much better choice than our last 2 captains and I wish him all the best.

  • Comment number 11.

    Gerrard is the perfect captain for England, he's carried Liverpool to victory on his own so many times before, i have no doubt he can do it for England. I have a feeling this will make him raise his game a great deal and hopefully he and the rest of the team can perform well.

  • Comment number 12.

    I don't think that Rio will be missed by England that much. Gerrard would prove to be a very good replacement captain. Hopefully, he will embrace his new role and be a lot more vocal than in the past.

    On Rio not being in the lineup: He wasn't playing anywhere near his best and looked sluggish in the friendlies. King should be a good (if not better) replacement. He has been slowly peaking for Tottenham and his fitness shouldn't take too much of a knock with the games spaced out fairly well.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Given that Gerrard started the season conjuring up the luckiest not guilty verdict in recent legal history, spent most of the season as average, saw his league side drop to a new low and his personal discipline on the pitch decline one does wonder whether giving him the England armband is in fact the fates lining him up for a massive fall!

    Personally in terms of leadership on the pitch the armband should be Lampard's.

  • Comment number 15.

    Zidane describes Gerrad as the most complete footballer in the world.
    He has five weeks to become in international legend rather than just a domestic one.
    We always talk up England's chances but the overall quality of the opposition is much lower than usual. The Italians lack firepower. Brazil have Robinho up front! The Dutch and Germans look ordinary. Messi looks like a true legend but Maradona's management looks very iffy. Only Spain look world class in most areas but they have fitness worries on key players not to mention their usual psychological capitulation in world cups........
    This could be the first world cup to be won by and outsider.........

  • Comment number 16.

    That´s just it though, a LOT of people seriously believe that Gerrard isn´t 100% dedicated to England, the only people who don´t doubt that are Liverpool fans and the media who struggle to admit that Gerrard has been incredibly poor this season. This inspirational leader of his club has been nothing short of a spectator when his club needed him most, so much so that even hardcore fans are saying its time for him to quit as his heart clearly isn´t in it anymore.
    The fact is also that he´s never had a good tournament for England either, as you yourself point out. He didn´t do much to help England qualify for Euro 2008 - Such a great leader would ALWAYS lead by example, whether they´re captain or not. In fact, the only single player who consistently fought to drag England by the scruff of the neck into Austria and Switzerland was, yep, you guessed it, John Terry. The guy was playing through injury, broken bones, and baffling abuse and criticism from papers and fans. This whole thing is a farce, the captain should be picked based on football matters and nothing more, we´re the only country that nit picks, obsesses, and hypocritically criticises our players for their personal lives in this way, and look where it´s now gotten us, the man not good enough to even be vice-captain, has very rarely shown his top form for his country, has even more rarely shown proper dedication to the cause of his national side, and has just come out of a season in which he showed no kind of form, dedication, or leadership for the club he apparently epitomises.

    I hope that clears up this ´mystery´ for you.

  • Comment number 17.

    As others and Phil's blog itself stated hopefully Gerrard's personal performance may improve from being given the captaincy after an under-par season at Liverpool by his standards.

    If he had decided he wants to leave Liverpool to join Mourinho's Madrid or to go somewhere then surely that would propel him to even better performances. However it would be indecision like in 2004 that would adversely effect his performances.

    http://engfootyabroad.com/ - English Footballers Abroad

  • Comment number 18.

    Phil, almost every article you write I hear some reference to the misuse of Gerrard and Wayne Rooney. However, 6 months ago, one of England's greatest strengths was the movement and interchange of Rooney and Gerrard from the left side- Rooney drifting wide and deep to find space and Gerrard ploughing forward. We've seen Rooney as a lone striker for England, we've also seen Gerrard playing off a lone striker, and neither has worked. It's that simple.

  • Comment number 19.

    I´ll just add that I do think that the captaincy will make him raise his game, he´s the kind of player that needs the team to be based around him.

  • Comment number 20.

    Phil McNulty wrote:

    "Gerrard is fully equipped with all the tools to make a success of the job."

    ----------------------

    LOL - that's no way to refer to the England squad!

  • Comment number 21.

    As an Everton fan I could find numerous ways to poke fun at Liverpool and Steven gerrard inparticular. However during this period of England enduced bonding were all forced to step back and take a pragmatic look rather than through the eyes of broading rivals. You look at the England team and compare it with other World Cup hopefuls such as Spain, Brazil and Argentina and find yourself asking the question can we beat these sides and win the World Cup?
    Well the answer is of course yes we can (trying as much as possible not to sound like Barrack Obama as we do have to beat these optimistimism enthused Americans in the groups) However can we beat these teams playing quick one touch football then the answer has to be an emphatic NO!
    Then you ask how can we beat these teams later on in the competition when it comes down to the business end? The answer is the simple, let the England national team play the English way. That way is a fast paced physical, direct and passionate form of football.For england to win they have to want it more, they have to bust every nerve and sinew and hound our slick football playing cousins. The embodiement of all these attributes in the England team is Steven Gerrard, he's a driving force in midfield and who's performances although poor at first were improving towards the end of the season. The England team against a good footballing side like Mexico were struggling to get a grip of the midfield in the first half with far too much lateral passing from the likes of Lampard in particular. With Gerrards introduction the team had more drive, a heartbeat and a focal point with which players like Joe Cole and the inexperienced Milner and Lennon can rally around. Gerrard for the past 5/6 years (especially under Rafa Benitez) has almost singal handedly ran the Liverpool midfield dragging workman like players such as Kuyt, Babel and Lucas to the Champions League final twice. This he can do for England, this he can do as captain this he can do if the team is built around him. However Lampard would have to be sacrificed as in a combative English midfield there is no place for a slow, ponderous overweight midfield player who's presence shackles Gerrard to defensive duties due to Lampards lack of quality in the department.

  • Comment number 22.

    I got stuck in the belief that England had no chance in this world cup with a semi final surrender to Brazil being the best we could hope for (and a fantastic effort to be happy with) - injuries to key players totting up - not helpful when we're looking to beat the odds.

    To beat the world this time we need to beat Brazil in a competitive game for the first time ever (after 50 years of trying) and be the first european nation to succeed outside of there own continent and win in the southern hemisphere where southern hemsphere nations have only ever won. Ridiculous to think that this could be posible then I read this Blog about gerrard needing to be the leading man and then it comes to me its not all doom and gloom its not all about the form book its about one man becoming a super star and making the improbable happen - but surely that mans not going to be gerrard its not going to be rooney or lampard its going to be crouch -

    yes crouch i see him now celebrating robotically after destroying a hapless brazil defence incapable of dealing with his dazzling combination of height and close control cutting them apart with ease from corners. Its so clear now how the impossible dream is possible, utilising the one player we have that no other team has anything like and its going to change the world as we know it

    Crouch is gonna be bigger than pele -

    pepsi and coca cola will vie for his signature on a contract - his robotics are gonna be bigger than jacko's moonwalk, small kids the world over from the back streets of rio to the favelas of huddersfield are going to celebrate scoring with a technoesque shimmy, finally the break through for soccer will happen in mainstream US culture Crouch as FIFA ambassador successfully linking the HIP HOP culture of Urban america with a desire to play Soccer (so we'll never win a world cup again) - don't play basketball be like crouch play football - next 50 years a reference to the commentary of the match 'they think it's all over' cut to crouch robotic celebration montage 'it is now' rattling through all our brains as its played at least twice a week for one reason or another on the BBC

    We can win, we will win, we're gonna win the world cup in South Africa come on Crouch come on England!!

  • Comment number 23.

    So now the curse falls on Gerrard.

    What will it be this time?

    Marital breakup? Horrendous injury? Complete psychological breakdown?

    Tune in same time tomorrow for the latest episode in "England" - the longest-running comedy soap in television history.

  • Comment number 24.

    Terry will probably still be the one keeping the England team going during matches regardless of the fact that he is not the one wearing the armband.

    Gerrard has never had the same spark for England as he has for Liverpool, and I believe that won't change in South Africa unless Capello chooses to play him just behind Rooney as the supporting striker/attacking midfielder.

  • Comment number 25.

    The most interesting thing from my point of view about Gerrard being captain is what does it mean for the formation?

    Will he still be stuck out on the left, looking ineffectual and coming inside all the time exposing Ashely Cole? Leading to accusations that he is playing only because of his rep and because he's the captain.

    Or will Capello change and play him in the middle, thus potentailly sacrificing Lampard's best bits to play them both, or will he switch to 1 striker, potenially getting the best out of Gerrard and Lampard, and some even say Rooney, but potentially be shown up because there are only 2 Right/Left siding midfielders who can cross and one of them's also out injured!

    It'll be interesting to say the least how Capello decides to go. Pitty such a vital change wasn't examined closer in the blog.


    Oh and apparently critisiing Phil for suggesting that Rio's back and Knee injuries are linked is "likely to cause offence" Once again the BBC censoring any opinions other than their own. Because of that I've kept this post as mildly critical as I can, I wonder if it'll get through?

  • Comment number 26.

    No Squad, No Lineup, No Captain, No Manager will ever please England fans and critics. It is true England won only 1 world cup many years ago and nothing since then but do you really believe it would've been different with other squad, lineup, captain or manager?. I honestly don't think so; Perhaps a place higher or lower but it would've meant being finalist in Italy 90 if possitive but no Champions. Let's pay closer attention to other countries with not as good squads, lineups, captains and managers always performing better than England. Example: Germany. Why the difference?. They always think winning is their only option. England's lack of credibility and confidence in themselves is their only curse. Just hope for Capello to make an impact in their brains.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is only a captains curse when you have picked someone who has missed so many games in the last twelve months and then you select him as Captain.

    Being captain was not the reason his knee gave way.

    Gerrard will hopefully play out of his skin and give us as many games as possible in his best form. You would think if he scored three goals, we should do ok, not judging him on goals but reasonable benchmark to determine a good World Cup from a midfielder, four would be even better.

  • Comment number 28.

    Always thought that Gerrard was the first choice of captain anyway.

    Terry has always been a liability off the field, whereas Gerrard is an excellent diplomat and good with the press.

    Fedinand's injury is a blessing in disguise. There are better players than him in the squad and better leaders.

    As for all the negative comments about England - jeez, get a life!

  • Comment number 29.

    The cool of Gareth Barry and Ledley King give England an extra split second to control the game. With the passion of Carragher and Gerrard coupled with Rooney & Co, a £50 bet on England to win seems in order !! Green may yet prove to be Englands hero.

  • Comment number 30.

    "tub-thumping jingoistic rhetoric" - What on Earth is that?

    "to be the world-class player he undoubtedly is and finally shine at a major showpiece." - Eh? Quoi? "Finally"??? The Champions League Final is not "major showpiece" then?

    Gerrard & Terry are close anyway, so Terry will continue barking as he was doing as captain, but while Gerrard is a quieter type, his lucid view on the game will be more easily expressed, and followed, at crucial moments of the game.

    I did rather think (and predicted after TerryGate), that injury to Rio would provide Capello with the excuse to hand the armband back to Terry. Personally though, I think the decision was the right one in the end. But I am hoping the "curse" has run its course (excusez l'allitération ;-))

  • Comment number 31.

    Gerrard has done nothing of note since Istanbul & has never delivered on the international scene.

    We are falling into old habits with out of form & injured players & Gerrard falls into both.

    Who can say hand on heart that any England manager would have the bottle to leave a player of Ronaldinho's ability at home, it just wouldnt happen. Dunga picked the best 'team' not the best individuals from 3 years ago.

    We do have good players, Terry, Ashley Cole, Rooney, all we have to do is put a team around them that functions, not stick players in because they used to be good.

  • Comment number 32.

    Gerrard is the type of man that can carry a team on his back....
    and win tournaments........
    have faith..

    Come on England!!!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Finally deliver? He was one of our best players at the last world cup, despite being well and truly stifled by Eriksson's tactics playing deeper behind Lampard.

    He's not the player he once was however, so expecting miracles from the guy is too much. He'll be able to shine if Capello puts him in his best position, which is not on the left.

    Maybe we can look at the way England managers have used him before slating his performances at tournaments. I.e. in 3 tournaments where he has been judged, has he played in his best position once? No.

  • Comment number 34.

    Gerrard is a good captain for Liverpool but can he be a good one for England?

  • Comment number 35.

    I think he'll make a great captain. Sure he maybe quieter than Rio or Terry, but IMO he's got arguably the best footballing brain of any player in an England shirt. Good luck to him, and may England prosper!

  • Comment number 36.

    This is just another example of the way Capello has been losing the plot over the last few weeks,why pick as a captain a player who is playing out of position and never looks happy or performs for his country as he does for his club.
    Once the manager statrts talking about curses you know he is feeling the pressure

  • Comment number 37.

    Gerrards going to lift the trophy! this is his time

  • Comment number 38.

    @ 22: Lol, well said! Just a pity your name's such a giveaway. ;-)

  • Comment number 39.

    Gerrard as captain, give me strength: next he'll be dropping Walcott!

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Psychophant drivell from you Phil - said to you before when blogging on Liverpool you can't see the wood for the trees (Title Winners anyone?) and England you are as bad.
    Fact - Gerrard had played very few good games for England and shouldn't even be in the team as per the comment above re: Ronaldhinho.
    The book of Stevie's G's good games for England would be 10 times shorter than a corresponding book on average/bad games.
    None of my (primarily European) overseas supporting friends rate Gerrard at this level.
    I do concur Rooney absolutely, Ashley Cole yes, fully fit Ferdinand and Barry yes. Gerrard (and for that matter Lampard) No. I base my opinion on previous performances not media blinkered reputation

  • Comment number 42.

    It's a maybe. Of course Gerrard is capable of delivering, but he was also capable of doing so in previous tournaments.

    As for his future, plenty of players have gone into international competitions with their club future's uncertain, but still do the business.

    http://footballfutbolfitba.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 43.

    How hard! - GERRARD! Remember this? COME ON ENGLAND!

  • Comment number 44.

    This is great news! I would feel much more comfortable if Gerrard leads England to victory than Rio/Terry. Can't wait for the WC.

    I think Brazil are best placed to win the WC. England will need to play with confidence. That means confidence in their own ability as well as trust in their team mates. I think this is unlikely but I will hope it happens.

  • Comment number 45.


    Steven Gerrard is a world class footballer. As player and captain he is sure to give his best on and off the field. Best of luck to the new captain, his team and the fans.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 46.

    41: So we shouldn't have even taken Gerrard to SA cos Brazil have not taken Ronaldinho? What rubbish. Gerrard is one of our best players. If you think we (England) should not have taken players who have underacheived at international level it's a good job you're not a manager - we would not be able to take anyone! I don't care who the captain is, but Gerrard is as good a choice as anyone.

  • Comment number 47.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 48.

    'And, despite many supporters mysteriously believing England might be better off with someone else occupying his place in Capello's side'

    I don't think that such a belief is mysterious at all.

    Personally, given the dearth of (good) English wide players and Gerrard's versatility, I'd play him out wide. Yet if we had an excellent winger, I would drop him. He lacks the discipline to play centrally at this level, and I would have Lampard alongside Barry every day of the week.

    Undoubtedly Gerrard is a fine player, hence why I would include him in the side, albeit in his less-favoured wide position. But unlike most of the media I am not blind to his shortcomings. I doubt I'm alone in thinking that the team functions better without Gerrard in the centre, although a couple of years back such an opinion would be tantamount to heresy. It probably still is in Liverpool.

    On the captaincy, I probably would have opted for Lampard. People bang on about Gerrard's inspirational qualities, but I have to say I'm less than impressed by his apparent frustration with teammates when they aren't on his wavelength or mistime a run or misplace a pass. I prefer captains to be a bit less petulant on the pitch, but that is purely a personal preference. Roy Keane, for example, wasn't afraid of showing his annoyance with others, and he was a decent captain.

  • Comment number 49.

    JonDavies wrote------

    The England team against a good footballing side like Mexico were struggling to get a grip of the midfield in the first half with far too much lateral passing from the likes of Lampard in particular. With Gerrards introduction the team had more drive, a heartbeat and a focal point with which players like Joe Cole and the inexperienced Milner and Lennon can rally around. Gerrard for the past 5/6 years (especially under Rafa Benitez) has almost singal handedly ran the Liverpool midfield dragging workman like players such as Kuyt, Babel and Lucas to the Champions League final twice. This he can do for England, this he can do as captain this he can do if the team is built around him. However Lampard would have to be sacrificed as in a combative English midfield there is no place for a slow, ponderous overweight midfield player who's presence shackles Gerrard to defensive duties due to Lampards lack of quality in the department.

    --------------------

    Disagree I'm afraid, for several reasons.

    1. Lampard didn't play against Mexico at all, do you mean the Japan game?

    2. I was at the Mexico game, Gerrard spent large portions of the second half (in his and your preferred position), running around like a headless chicken, and dropping far too deep, therefore marginalising Huddlestone.

    3. Gerrard did nothing single-handed for Liverpool, Hamman, then Xavi-Alonso provided the cover and ball possession to let him drive forward and play to his strength. This season, no Alonso= poorer Gerrard, poorer Liverpool.

    4. Ball possession is the only way England will prosper this tournament, that's what this lateral passing you criticise does, keeps the ball moving and in play, opening up space.

    5. Slow, ponderous, overweight actually= 26 goals, 16 assists, and one of the fittest players in the Prem this season.

    6. Don't get me wrong, Gerrard's a great player, and we need him at his best, but don't ask him to do a specific job unless it's roam free from the left or roam free behind the striker. He constantly lacks positional discipline for England, and often also for Liverpool.

  • Comment number 50.

    Should have been Lampard.

  • Comment number 51.

    How can the BBC keep allowing McNulty to publish this fawning tripe about Steven Gerrard!?

    He has been a serial let down for England and aged 30 with 80 odd caps, this isn't suddenly about to change. He simply doesn't have the game for international football - not enough technical ability and very little footballing intelligence. He is an impact player but no more.

    This is fine for the Premiership and heck Gerrard's atleticism and power will probably be too much for our group opponents and no doubt he'll flatter to deceive at the group stages. But as soon as we come up against a Brazil or Spain then Gerrard will look like little boy lost once again in an England shirt. I'm dreading the misplaced 5 yard passes, overhit crosses and wild shooting. Heck, the sooner this guy is no more for England, the better.

    No Ferdinand, Hargreaves Walcott or Adam Johnson and a conservative selection by Capello for the final 23 and now to add insult to injury the thoroughly undeserving Gerrard is England Captain! Argh!

    That McNulty has to write; "And, despite many supporters mysteriously believing England might be better off with someone else occupying his place in Capello's side" just shows how out of touch he is with England fans. Why, Mr McNulty, should Gerrard continue to be untouchable for England!?!?! He should have been benched years back.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think we as a country worry about minor things like the captaincy too much. Other countries don't see it as important at all - Italy give the armband to the oldest/most capped player & I bet a lot of people can't even remember who Spain's captain was at Euro 2008 ( Casillas ).

    What we should be worrying about is that once again we are going into a major tournament basing our team on a 'fudging' of roles, squeezing Gerrard into a role that does not suit him just to get him in the side.

    We also let teams pour through us & at our central defenders at will.

    Hart
    Johnson Carragher Terry Cole A.
    Carrick Barry
    Lampard Gerrard Cole J.
    Rooney

    That is how we should line up against better teams.

    In games where we are on the front foot & expected to win we should bring in Lennon on the right, drop Carrick & go 4141.

  • Comment number 53.

    Steven Gerrard is not a world class player or even a great player. He has lots of energy but no subtlety in passing or distribution of the ball. Count the number of times he gives the ball away, overhits passes or greedily tries a no-hope long shot. His presence is a major factor in a dysfunctional England midfield. Let's have people who can pass the ball and hold on to it. Also lets forget about looking for the best position for Gerrard - let's agree a formation and style of play and pick the best players for that system. On all counts, Lampard woud have been a better choice as Captain.

  • Comment number 54.

    A blessing I,d call it,
    Ferdinand was lucky to be picked in the first place.
    With his injuries and lack of games this season he is too slow for the premiership,never mind the world cup.
    Dawson deserves his chance.

  • Comment number 55.

    Come on England.. Keep the dream alive..

    #22 Brilliant. ! we need optimism and not this negative stuff :)

  • Comment number 56.

    One thing England need is someone who can lead by exampe on the pitch when things arent going so well and thats what gerrard can do. England have often gone flat at times in big games and just need someone who can get stuck in and pull something out of nothing. Its just a question of whether this is enough to spark him into life for England

  • Comment number 57.

    "He has never quite grasped the interest that surrounds the man with the armband in England, believing all his players have leadership responsibilities and the role itself is purely symbolic."

    Well, he's right. All the football captain has to do is call heads or tails at the start of a match, avoid telling the press what he really thinks of them, and look pretty. It's not a real job, like being captain of a cricket side. The so-called 'interest' is mostly a collective delusion by the press.

  • Comment number 58.

    Steven Gerrard is not a world class player or even a great player. He has lots of energy but no subtlety in passing or distribution of the ball. Count the number of times he gives the ball away, overhits passes or greedily tries a no-hope long shot. His presence is a major factor in a dysfunctional England midfield. Let's have people who can pass the ball and hold on to it. Also lets forget about looking for the best position for Gerrard - let's agree a formation and style of play and pick the best players for that system. On all counts, Lampard woud have been a better choice as Captain.
    -----------------------------------------------
    sorry are u actually for real im sure if you ask any die hard man utd or chelsea fans they wont hesitate in saying how god gerrard is even if they wont want to , gerrard has played few games in centre mid for england and he does a good job on the left and his link up with rooney has been superb , im disgusted by the part time england fans who pop up at a world cup and say how awfull ferdinand or england are when ferdinand is world class hes just been unluky with injury last season , and as for l king hes a quality defender but you cant help but worry that he cant manage more than 2 games in a week but redknap thinks he can and id trust old harrys judgement. thats whats wrong with this negative media saturated country who criticise when alot of them have never touched a football in their lives!! realisticly england have a goo

  • Comment number 59.

    Phil - Albeit his hand may have been forced, making Steven Gerrard the Captain could be the most crucial decision Fabio Capello makes during this competition.
    When he is captain of and playing in his preferred position for Liverpool, there is none better then Gerrard; his personal performances and spectacular goals have, as you rightly point out, almost single-handedly won much silverware for the Merseyside club. Gerrard is however something of a moody individual (introspective you call it)and it has to be said that his 'best' club form has rarely been reproduced for England (admittedly he is not on his own in this), he has sometimes looked disinterested and has on a number of occasions failed to follow the brief given him by Capello, leaving gaps all over the place and baffling his colleagues.
    That said, Steven Gerrard now has the chance to put everything right, he can 'sieze the day' and write his name in the history books as only the second English captain to hold the World Cup aloft. Fabio now has to have the courage of his convictions(if thats what they are) and let Gerrard be the captain he wants to be on the field; that means Gerrard playing in the position he wants to play, with full authority to change things - on the pitch - if needed. There is no doubt that in terms of a 'football brain' Gerrard is one of the very few England players on the same wavelength as Rooney (Joe Cole is another) and that the Rooney/Gerrard axis could be devestating for England. However, all the evidence suggests that Fabio is unlikely to give such 'free reign' to any player, even Rooney - if this is the case then giving Gerrard the Captain's arm band, will make little difference, to him and to the team.

  • Comment number 60.

    realisticly england have a good chance the main threat is spain i think as torres sublime and villa too
    portugal will will pushing too as well and france will come good i think as well as holland who shoudlnt be under estimated they won all qualifying games and conceded 2 goals!!! but come on england the time is now -southafrican winter should help us and the altitude wont be an issue
    maybe the three lions wil roar in southafrica i know i will from the uk

  • Comment number 61.

    JT is the England captain, he got us to SA, of course we let tribalism and the Aussie run tabloids ruin our chances of world cup victory, but it's never to late to rectify a mistake, but can Capello be a man and admit he made a mistake. the Italian's are not renowned for their bravery....but let's hope Capello is the exception to the rule.. Good luck lad's...three shirts on my line, I've just done my washing..and all that twaddle !

  • Comment number 62.

    yeah gerrard has been way out of form this season...terry hasnt been at his best barry rooney and Acole just retured from injuries, BUT in tornuments like this the form book get thrown out of the window...england can do cause there half of the draw isnt to bad, theres only really argentina france and germany who are real contenders to win it, so if we 1) avoid them by finishing top of our group or 2) beating them if we do draw them in the semis/quaters..and then well be in the final before you know it and hopefully ill be celebrating my 16th(a day after the final) with an england world cup win :D:D

    COME ON ENGLAND!!!! :D

  • Comment number 63.

    Who is far and away the best captain in the England squad? John Terry. Who has Capello made captain? Steven Gerrard. In one fell swoop Capello has destroyed England's chances of a successful World Cup campaign. Thanks Fabio, thanks a bunch.

  • Comment number 64.

    Its about time Stevie G has been given the captains armband, he is clearly the best man for the job and I was absolutely gutted he was shunned again when Rio was given it after Terry was dropped. Stevie G was the right choice and should of been given the armband years ago.

  • Comment number 65.

    England have a great chance! they just need more confidence, having Rooney, Gerrard, Lampard in your team makes it tough for any opposition, if the likes of USA can beat Spain, and almost beat Brazil in the Confederations Cup, then we can certainly fancy our chances against anybody. It's not arrogance, It's confidence and confidence helps in a big way for athletes of every sport

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    RE: 22. At 6:45pm on 05 Jun 2010, WorldCupDreamer.

    Thanks for your contribution. Original, funny. You surely made my French night here.

  • Comment number 68.

    Capello has his first choice captain in South Africa but he's not in the squad...Beckham! His influence and importance to England, even now at this stage of career, cannot be underestimated!

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    First of all, whilst Rio Ferdinand's injury is a massive PERSONAL blow for him, I think that it could be a blessing in disguise for England.

    In BOTH the 2 games against Mexico and Japan, Ferdinand made mistakes and I felt looked past his best. He was always going to go to the tournament though and play because of his role as captain and his experience at international level.

    I think Ledley King is favourite to take his place and arguably had a much better end to the domestic season for Spurs than Rio did for United.

    Steven Gerrard has captained Liverpool for years and is a very successful captain for Liverpool. Clearly, he is a senior member of the England team now and I think will lead by example exactly as he does for Liverpool. His role will probably be different in the England team (Capello will probably play him out on the left with licence to roam), but I believe he will, as he has done for Liverpool, lead by example.

    You don't have to be someone who bellows at your team mates every five minutes in order to be a captain. John Terry (who does this very well) is a natural leader and will still "lead" the defence, but Gerrard will, I believe THRIVE on this captaincy as he does for Liverpool.

    My team to start against USA:

    Green Goalkeeper

    Johnson Right Back
    King Centre Back
    Terry Centre Back
    A.Cole Left Back

    Lennon Right Midfield
    Barry Defensive Midfield
    Lampard Attacking Midfeild
    J. Cole Left Midfield

    Gerrard Support Striker
    Rooney Centre Forward

  • Comment number 71.

    RE: 67

    Glad you enjoyed my comment: kind of assumed in my swathing predictions that we'd beat the French in the quarters - kind of believing that englands package after eight to ten years of gradual improvement and a really (and unusually) robust and dramatic improvemnet under Capello that we'd have the edge on a french side that has suffered a calamatous qualification for the world cup despite all the great players mind you despite those problems you still ended up with a great group draw so landed on your feet there (capello a bit more confidence inspiring than domenech though don't you think?)

    Anyway like you say prepare to be heartbroken thats what the world cup is all about, eventual tears for the majority, followed by a period of immense depression (tried to contain that by not being to optimistic but what the hell lets just believe) and once in a life time ecstasy for a few (unless you german or brazilian) You French have had your lifetimes worth haven't you?

    Well good luck and Que Sera Sera

  • Comment number 72.

    Oooooooohhhh yeah beauty!!!!! What a hit son! What a hit!

  • Comment number 73.

    I have to agree with Georgiethebest post #59. Gerrard on form (which he will be for England despite mediocre performances for an undermanned Liverpool team) is among the best attacking midfield players on the planet. His range and vision coupled with his ability to make killer passes and score goals will be key to Englands success.

    However, as noted by my fellow bloggers, Stevie G is no holding midfielder. He needs cover (as will the back 4 without Rio) and it will be crucial that Barry is game fit. The combination of Barry and Cole gives Gerrard the freedom to move up from the left midfield position into an attacking formation and to support Rooney. Gerrard has an excellent final touch and can set up Rooney with through passes that split the retreating defense. Without Barry, I'm concerned. Just dont see Carrick in that role and there really isnt another good holding player. Maybe Milner?

    In addition to all the technical quality that Gerrard brings, he is also a leader on the field. His work rate is incredible and he truly plays up and down the entire field. This takes nothing away from Lampard, but Gerrard really has the experience to fill the captains role for England in a way that he does regularly for Liverpool. He is a hard worker and does not complain or posture much. For a group of prima donnas, that is worth a lot.

    A lot of blogs about confidence. Gerrard is the strong silent type. However, Capello is smart enough to realize that he can help Gerrard inspire the teams confidence in itself. Let's hope so.

  • Comment number 74.

    If he can be the inspiration as at Liverpool ( sometimes) then this will be great for England.

    But DONT play him on the left, he must be allowed to roam behind the forwards. Joe Cole or (hello!!!!!) Adam Johnson should be there, possibly Lennon.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm confident this could be the making of Gerrard. I hear what Phil was saying about Gerrard struggling to find form and assert himself in the England team - but I think the captaincy will help, not hinder, him in this quest.

    His finest performances for Liverpool (Champions League Final 05, FA Cup Final 06. etc.) have come when the team has its back to the wall and turned to Gerrard to drive the fightback. He's never asserted himself in the same way for England. At the 06 World Cup he looked desperate not to tread on Lampards toes and timidly deferred leadership of the midfield to Beckham.

    Instead, at this WC, Gerrard will be wearing the armband - and Capello must impress on him the leadership required. If we can convince Gerrard that this England team needs his leadership just like those Liverpool ones of the past did, then we might hope to see him at his dominating best.

  • Comment number 76.

    As a captain of, Gerrards England record doesn't look very promising. Lets hope he can turn it around and give us all something to cheers about. Get behind the team people.

  • Comment number 77.

    Maybe there really is a "captain's curse" and Gerrard will get injured too.

    I'd like to nominate Emile Heskey to be the next England captain.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 81.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 82.

    Hi
    Destiny will pick it own person .First Terry then Ferdinand and finaly Gerard may be after the hand of god and the other bad desisions God as final selected the England team the win this world cup

  • Comment number 83.

    Capello has his first choice captain in South Africa but he's not in the squad...Beckham! His influence and importance to England, even now at this stage of career, cannot be underestimated!

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hello! Beckham is injured and not available.

    Maybe you'd prefer Bobby Charlton to be picked, or Peter Shilton?

  • Comment number 84.

    RE 70

    Agree Green in goal

    Johnson, King, Terry, Cole

    just dont see Barry fit to start against USA. I am concerned about who will play in front of the back 4.

    Carrick has been so disappointing this year for Man U.

    Lennon, Lampard, Gerrard, Joe Cole

    Rooney, Crouch

    Are we too exposed without a holding midfielder against USA?

    Thoughts?

  • Comment number 85.

    I don't think the captaincy is that important. England need a big tournament from Gerrard whether he's captain or not.

    I think this could be a World Cup of many surprises. Most of the traditionally strong nations have weaknesses and aren't as good as in previous years....and that gives England a chance if they can get their act together.

    They need to try and refind the passion for putting on the jersey.....something I believe has never been the same since players have become mega rich, spoilt superstars!

  • Comment number 86.

    Hello! Beckham is injured and not available.

    Maybe you'd prefer Bobby Charlton to be picked, or Peter Shilton?


    Hence why I said "and he's not in the squad"

    Dullard!

    But his influence in the England Camp will be crucial. If he was fit, he would still be the man to lead England out above all the others.

  • Comment number 87.

    The_Germans_never_miss wrote [68] :

    Beckham! His influence and importance to England, even now at this stage of career, cannot be underestimated!

    -----------------------

    You're right - Beckham's importance can't be underestimated.

    Because it's zero.

  • Comment number 88.

    Nobody can doubt that Gerrard can be a great captain and maybe the added responsibility can raise his game for once!

    I would love to see Capello go with King and Dawson now, I know Terry won't get dropped and possibly even Carragher will come in (God knows why), but King and Dawson are the proven partnership and surely when you have just lost your best defender it would make sense to go with the pair that have played together and played very well. In fact the reason both are in or were in contention is because they had the other.

    I seriously think that Dawson could make himself something of a hero given the chance, I hope the lad gets it.

  • Comment number 89.

    Put ashley cole and glen johnson as centre backs,terry and king as full backs,rooney as keeper,play carrick and heskey as strikers,don't play gerrard,play lamps on the left,barry on the right,rob green or james as the central midfielder. And if england comes home winning the world cup,i will believe that gerrard was really the factor behind englands failure.
    Are you egghead mancs,londoners and whomsoeverelse know better than zidane that you livened up to criticize gerrard. Anyway,i don't give a straw,coz mancs supporter are all from far-east. London is more indian subcontinental than is english.

  • Comment number 90.

    i come from slovenia, and i think Gerrard will make you proud. And i think the guy saying ur making too much fuss on who is captain is right...
    and it is good that terry it is not captain coz he is stupid.
    Best wishes..

  • Comment number 91.

    What we have to do now, as a nation, is accept the decision by the boss that Gerrard is his captain. As previously stated above, call tails (never fails), shake hands and then get stuck in. This world cup is ours for the taking- if the only injury we have is to Rio (compare this to the impact of losing Robben will have on the Dutch or Drogba to the Ivory Coast) then it might prove to be a blessing. We've kept only 7 clean sheets under Capello so what we need is balance at the back and this can be helped by two club pairings at the back- Carragher alongside Johnson and Terry alongside Cole. I just wonder if Gerrard will smack the World Cup into his own face when he lifts it like he did with the Champions League trophy in 2005. And as for him being past his best, you could clearly say the same about Rio. Who cares who is captain? Do you think Barca fans complained when Casillas lifted the European Championship or Milan fans when Cannavaro lifted the last world Cup? No. Tournament time = get behind your country.

  • Comment number 92.

    I remember listening to Alan Green commentating on radio five many moons ago.
    'Steven Gerrard will one day captain England. What a player! What a player'

    Cometh the hour...............

  • Comment number 93.

    31. Gerrard has done nothing of note since istanbul????

    He had a cup final named after him a year later?! Dragging Liverpool to the silverware with 2 goals (one a blockbuster from 30 yards and arguably the best cup final goal ever) and i believe an assist for Cisse. I'm happy to be corrected but I'm sure there has only been two cup finals referred to by the name of a protaganist; the Matthews cup final and the Gerrard cup final.

    I'm a welsh man and would kick a small rodent in the throat to have Gerrard in my wales team. Good luck England, genuinely hope you bring it home!

  • Comment number 94.

    Seems to me that there are two roles for an England captain, one purely ceremonial and the other about leadership on the pitch. Gerrard will be fine doing the interviews, standing in front of the line, introducing players to the visiting dignitaries, etc. He'll do that OK. However, on pitch, Gerrard is too quiet. It's not helped that he is playing either wide left or in a support striker role, which means he doesn't get an impression of the overall pattern of play. Truthfully, it is hard to lead from the front. Leaders need to be in the engine room - in the back four or in central midfield or even GK. Fortunately, that role will be left to the on-pitch captain.

  • Comment number 95.

    Gerrard captured the Bulldog spirit. He was my first choice Captain despite the fact that I am a Man Utd supporter. Rio was not great this season and was totally plagued by injuries. Rio can lead by voice but not by example based on club form. In a previous interview Rio said he wasn't going to Dream of winning. 'If you don't dream how can you capture the right attitude or spirit. He was definitely the wrong guy. Stevie G first choice all the way regardless. He will shout at the guys to fight to the bitter end! He is some one who can win games for a team. Carra can replace Rio.

  • Comment number 96.

    I always find it amazing the amount of hyperbole surrounding Gerrard.

    As mentioned before he gets all the credit for Istanbul when it is well known that Hamman and Alonso were the key men that night.

    Several posts on here today saying he can carry England on his own. Well all I can say to that is how well did he do carrying Liverpool this season?

    But despite this, I actually do believe the captaincy will bring out the best of Gerrard as an individual player for England. And whilst the hyperbole surrounding him is just crazy, an in form Gerrard is a very good player, and a boost for England.

    But even he won't be able to make up for the lack of pace in the England defence.

  • Comment number 97.

    Mr Capello is a smart operator. At once he just may have energised both Lampard and Gerrard by this move. This may be the catalyst to ensure that they are both very aware that they must have that steely discipline and ensure that 'gung ho' must be tempered by astute positional awareness.
    With Gerrard on the left of midfield, pity the left flank and the left back position. Ask Leighton Baines!
    Perhaps Mr C is even better than we thought. Perversely this may bring out the best in two fine players, and help Gerrard, in paticular rediscover his best form. Good for both of them in my opinion.

  • Comment number 98.

    Should've been Gerrard all along.
    I could just never picture Ferdinand lifting the world cup but I can picture Gerrard.

    Oh and people still questioning Carragher's ability in defence compared with say King or Dawson, it should be pointed out that Liverpool, inspite of a terrible season, still had the 3rd best defence record after Manu and Chelsea; better than Spurs.

  • Comment number 99.

    I remember listening to Alan Green commentating on radio five many moons ago.
    'Steven Gerrard will one day captain England. What a player! What a player'
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hardly a surprise given that Green supports Liverpool, and if you have that on your CV, you are guarranteed a job with the BBC.

  • Comment number 100.

    Good to see everyone getting behind the team(??) Gerrard is a good club captain and considered for almost everyone's world top team on his best form. The team as a whole is a decent side lacking strike power and just too small in attack. Ferdinand was injured and out of form all season, and prone to blunders with his immobility. Ledley King an injury nightmare - what is he doing there? Heskey??? No words for it. Crouch?? Even less- but we need some height up front. There are just enough good players out there if they find a nice economical pattern of play, using their winning players - we all know who they are - so why pretend otherwise?

 

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