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Steven Gerrard finally flourishing as England captain

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Phil McNulty | 23:00 UK time, Friday, 22 June 2012

Euro 2012: Krakow

One of the enduring images of England's Euro 2012 campaign has been the sight of Steven Gerrard pumping the air with his fists, teeth clenched in a mask of triumph, with celebrating supporters for a backdrop.

It was the moment of victory against Ukraine in Donetsk's Donbass Arena that confirmed England's place in the last eight and ensured respectability and credibility from this tournament for manager Roy Hodgson and his squad.

Gerrard then pulled his white shirt over his head and looked to the heavens as he made his way off to the latest plaudits that have accompanied his performances in England's three Group D games.

Liverpool's 32-year-old captain has banished doubts held by some - including former England coach Fabio Capello - about his suitability to lead his country and will be vital once again when they face Italy in the quarter-final in Kiev on Sunday.

It is all a far cry from the day in February when England's interim manager Stuart Pearce turned to Tottenham's Scott Parker with the armband for the Wembley friendly against the Netherlands - a move that privately hurt Gerrard despite his dignified acceptance of the decision.

Gerrard has become the personality and player England's squad look to here at Euro 2012 and they will do so again as they attempt to extend a satisfying tournament even further against Italy.

He is a character of contrasts, a trait that mistakenly led Capello to believe he was too timid to be England captain, going to John Terry and Rio Ferdinand before effectively only turning to Gerrard when he was last man standing.

If Capello expected to be greeted by an in-the-face "I'm Your Man" reaction from Gerrard when the subject of captaining his country was broached then he was always going to be disappointed. It also meant that he was only ever going to lead England out in extreme circumstances under the Italian.

Despite enduring an injury-hit season with Liverpool, Gerrard looks to be 100% fit for the tournament. Photo: Reuters

This happened most notably in the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 when Capello gave the captaincy to Gerrard after Rio Ferdinand sustained a knee injury on the first day of training in Rustenburg.

Gerrard was one of the better performers, scoring against the United States, but the fact that he wore the armband meant he was tainted in the eyes of some after a hopelessly flawed England campaign.

Now he is making up for lost time. He is not taking temporary care of the captaincy for anyone else and has accepted the responsibility in a way Capello felt - harshly - was beyond him.

The driving midfield force seen in Ukraine is the public face of England's captain. Away from the action he is serious and occasionally introspective - which may have also been his unwitting downfall when Capello conducted what amounted to a "beauty parade" to find his leader.

Glen Johnson, a team-mate for Liverpool and England, offered an insight into Gerrard when he said: "He's not loud and you wouldn't know he is there half the time. He lets his football do that talking."

It was a message repeated by Parker, the man he replaced as captain but who now partners him in the centre of England's midfield when he said: "He's quiet and quite subdued at times but his football has done the talking for him."

And Gerrard's football has spoken eloquently on his behalf as he has created goals for Joleon Lescott against France, set up striker Andy Carroll with a wonderful cross against Sweden then created the crucial winner for Wayne Rooney in Donetsk.

Gerrard may still have to convince some - often praise given to him here has met with nothing short of abuse - but there are no doubts in the minds of those who matter, namely his manager and team-mates.

There has also been a discipline to Gerrard's displays that some of his critics claimed was a flaw. Confidence in himself and those around him means he has felt no need to take on every task - and the result has been that less has proved to be more in Euro 2012.

Gerrard has been a creative force for England, laying on three goals so far in the tournament. Photo: Getty

After 95 caps and 19 goals in an England career stretching back to his debut against Ukraine in May 2000, a day after his 20th birthday, he is playing better than ever at international level.

The relationship between Hodgson and his captain has also been a feature of Euro 2012. They had an unfulfilling time together during Hodgson's 191-day reign at Liverpool - but it was immediately clear here that the pair were happy to work together.

Hodgson said: "Steven has been fantastic ever since I was given the job. My first thought was to contact him and since then he hasn't put a foot wrong as a captain, a person or a player.

"He's playing as a captain should, as one of the best players in the tournament."
The manager's confidence has been repaid by Gerrard and can even be illustrated by small incidents off the field.

Gerrard was clearly insulted by a French journalist's suggestion before the opening game that England were no longer a major footballing nation, bristling as he said: "I think once we click and get a bit of luck we will prove an awful lot of people wrong, not just in this country but around the world - and people like that fella sitting at the back."

And when informed ahead of England's meeting with Sweden that his former Liverpool assistant manager Phil Thompson had expressed concerns about the game, Gerrard smiled broadly and asked with a confidence clad in concrete: "What's he worried about?"

Hodgson and Gerrard have an interesting personal dynamic, with the manager occasionally deferring to captain in media briefings, seeking out the Merseysider's opinion. This is not the disciplinarian straitjacket Capello imposed but an inclusive, more relaxed regime.

England hope he can lift them again on Sunday and help secure a place in the last four of Euro 2012.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    It's about time he started delivering tbh- lived off his club reputation far too often. And Phil, why didn't you mention the offside before Ukraine's disallowed goal the other day in a different article? seems a bit sensationalist, no?

  • Comment number 2.

    i honestly have to disagree, i dont think he has flourished at all apart from a couple of crosses and good corners (which he has always been good at)

    People fail to realize CM is Stevens worst position, which is why our midfield is bypassed so much by the defenders.

    gerrards best seasons for liverpool have been when he played behind the front man and on the right of midfield.

    for many years rafa benitez prefered, Alonso/Hamman , Alonso/Sissoko and Alonso/Mascherano OVER Stevie G in center midfield.

    What does that tell you?

    Milner has been poor. stick stevie G on the right.

    The way we play now is horrible. The center midfielders do not want to take passes from the center backs. Its a simple detail that is MAJORLY overlooked.

    it is something that needs to be rectified or we will be majorly exposed against a decent team.

    There is this myth perpetuated by pundits that Greece won by just defending.

    The truth is when they had the ball and had posession they made it count, they didnt give it away easily and were a threat

    We need CM’s who can do the simple job of giving the defenders a passing option when they have the ball. Keep possession in tight spaces and get the ball to the fwds/winger. SIMPLE yet overlooked part of our game. This just does not happen. Everything is scrappy and we JUST get by. again im not saying we need to string 50 passes together , but christ. we are just stumbling through. The worst of if is that we have the players to do better.

  • Comment number 3.

    He has looked a more assured player and has shown to have been the right choice for the captaincy. Although I do feel it would of been similar if Lampard had remained fit and if Gerrard was injured.

    I never felt Gerrard and Lampard playing in the same team worked, whereas I feel Parker, no matter what people say does a tremendous amount of work, the type of work that neither Gerrard or Lampard, could or should be doing. The partnership has shown improvement.

    No matter what we achieve on the park, it is off the park, which has been the biggest success and Gerrard has had a major role in that too.

    The failing, he is not a youngster anymore and that body has taken a few knocks and I feel that this is the last hurrah for him, tournament wise. That is not to say he should be gone after the Euros, just that we should be looking now for the future captain.

  • Comment number 4.

    The right sort of article for a change, for a blog.
    Gerrard has been instrumental to the England success story so far.
    He's been immense.

  • Comment number 5.

    Pastor Geek @2
    gerrards best seasons for liverpool have been when he played behind the front man and on the right of midfield.

    for many years rafa benitez prefered, Alonso/Hamman , Alonso/Sissoko and Alonso/Mascherano OVER Stevie G in center midfield.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It is all very well suggesting Gerrards best position for Liverpool in the past WAS and Rafa prefered such and such a player.

    Find an Alonso in the current England squad? Correct we don't have one.

    We also do not have a Mascherano either.

    Now if we did it may have been different but this is a team cobbled from nowhere and without tournament preparation in the true sense.

    Ashley Young doesn't really suit defensive duties but if he wants to play for England his going to have to defend as well as attack.

    Englands major problems in the past was off the pitch, that will be the greatest success of this tournament, getting it right there.

  • Comment number 6.

    Steven G has been good. He may not be the best player at the Euros but he`s been a good leader...... Good leaders inspire confidence.

  • Comment number 7.

    In fairness to Stevie G he has not let the captaincy affect his worth as a player to much. He is not as good as at Liverpool but I think creative players are generally a bit inhibited by being captain. He has done well but if the choice was there I would always give it to a defender. Not sure he has been immense, think that has to be saved for the likes of Ronaldo.

  • Comment number 8.

    He has been fantastic as Captain in this tournament but I also think that the timing of him becoming captain could not have been better.

    For a start he has matured from when it was initialy mentioned and expectations are lower but also the fact is, the high profile captains are out of favour and england fans are looking for somebody who isn't going to say how good they are as a player but looking for somebody who delivers by example.

    Gerrard has done that and its almost a bit surreal the harmony between him and Hodgson but one that I hope continues. It makes a change from the false bonhomie that previous managers held with not only their captain but also the media

  • Comment number 9.

    For someone who's faced so many comments about not showing up for England over the years (literally and figuratively), Gerrard's found the perfect way to answer them. As a Liverpool fan, I do find it odd that it is Roy Hodgson who's managed to get the best out of him at international level, but long may it continue. An assist in every game so far is not a bad record, especially considering one was a draw and the other two won by one-goal margins -- without those assists, we would (in theory) have one point and be back home!

  • Comment number 10.

    padster @8

    I agree totally, the apparent relationship Hodgson has with Gerrard has not been seen for a long long time, with our national team.

    No one is singing out of tune [i do not mean the national anthem either] they take to the pitch and look assured, they certainly have not looked like the usual team full of fear.

    Ok the football itself is not really the type we would all like to see BUT that will only come if the set up behind the scenes is successful and it looks like it may well be.

  • Comment number 11.

    Gerrard has been excellent in the tournament so far. A few weeks ago I was not sure whether he would be able to have an impact on the tournament - I thought he would probably get injured again.

    He now looks fitter and sharper than he has probably done in the last 2 years and this is very important to his game. He also seems to have resisted the temptation to hit too many speculative 60 yard passes.

    Italy will be a tough challenge for England but I think we can beat them if we play well.

  • Comment number 12.

    Gerrard has blossomed in the deeper role, with the flexibility in the system to move forward, this is were the workrate and ability of Milner has been lost on many....
    Expect Rooney to improve, thus working better with his MU colleague's Welbeck and Young...
    England and Italy were two side's with low expectation going into the tournament, have to say the Italians did look good against the Spanish with Pirlo playing well in central midfield, this is in my eye's is a 50/50 game, one error, one bit of magic could turn it.

  • Comment number 13.

    Gerrard has done some good things and has three assists which is obviously a good thing. His cross for Carroll's goal was beautiful. However I actually don't think his general play has been that impressive. He loses the ball far too much (only Carroll and Young lost it more in the game against Sweden I think I'm right in saying) and does not offer himself for a pass nearly enough for a central midfielder.

    I would go so far as to say Gerrard is the main reason why England cannot retain possession. He never passes to the player next to him - it's always forward and usually long. Compare that to Xavi, Schweinsteiger, Pirlo etc. When there is no forward pass on, they pass sideways or backwards and retain possession.

    This is no reflection on Gerrard's ability because he is a very good player. He just needs to know when to go for the killer pass and when not to, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ 8 Padster

    Gerrard is certainly a good captain and an inspiring leader on the pitch. I think Hodgson has struck the right balance between the cringe worthy 'Stevie G' of McClaren and stern, humourless Capello.

  • Comment number 15.

    @2

    Gerrard, up until 2005-6 was a box to box midfielder. After that his attacking potential was realised and with the aquisition of Masch he was given a license to roam. He is more than capable of playing a defensive game. How is it possible to not give him massive credit for his showing so far. His "couple of good crosses" are what won us the group. Coupled with him also doubling up his role of creative midfielder (and up until Rooney's return the only creative outlet as Young has been terrible) and defensive midfielder at the age of 32 (not to mention the last 18 injury riddled months) he has been brilliant. As Hodgson enjoys playing ancient 442 this will continue. I can't help but feel if Milner was brought into the middle we'd see even more from him in a 3 man midfield, but they seem to be doing pretty good regardless!

  • Comment number 16.

    rommy88 @88

    Yep that is something i too have thought worth a go, it makes sense. I won't run Milner down he works damn hard but he is never a wide midfielder but I do believe he plays there to offer protection for Johnson because he offers little threat in attack, unlike the other flank Young is not defensively minded and has exposed Cole at times.

    I think Roy might have given it a go, if he had a player to play wide midfield who was also defensively minded but he hasn't and I also think it's too late for experimentation at this stage of a tournament.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ PastorGeek 2 It's a myth that he can't be effective at CM. He's been England's best player there so far. We've not dominated possession in games, but you can't put that on Gerrard. 91% pass success against Ukraine, most key passes and tackles in the game too, that's not including the trick and cross for the winner.

    His best spells at Liverpool were as a box-to-box CM early on. Then under Rafa he became a serious goal threat and playmaker at CAM and off the right. He still played in the middle for Rafa more often than people seem to remember though, and to great effect. Liverpool won 7/10 games with him there in Benitez's last season, lost one, Chelsea.

    His last 2 seasons with Liverpool have been poor, spent out or returning from long injury layoffs, but he looks fit now.

    Rafa Benitez on Gerrard: "Anyway, Stevie will remember all about Zlatan and Juventus. He missed the Turin leg with an injury but he was very strong in our win at Anfield, driving the play. He is playing far deeper for Roy Hodgson and driving forward far less but I think that is correct. He is the England midfielder who can pass the ball and switch the play better than all the others. He can also be that shield to frustrate Zlatan, who definitely won't have forgotten him."

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    "Gerrard may still have to convince some - often praise given to him here has met with nothing short of abuse - but there are no doubts in the minds of those who matter, namely his manager and team-mates."

    No, Phil, that is NOT how it is.

    The problem has been the media driven hype machine - and you, Mr.McNulty have been one of the worst and most persistent offenders - which has vastly overrated Gerrard in the first place and then that same hype machine has routinely excused (or conveniently ignored) Gerrard's many poor performances at international level.

    Certainly, there has been precious little honesty about Gerrard's failures at international level. Instead we are treated to fawning article after fawning article which make no reference to his worst failures - "that" backpass against France in 2004 and two failed stints as Captain i.e autumn 2007 and the non-qualfication for Euro 2008 and the dire World Cup performance in South Africa.

    And come every summer tournament we get the same article from you, Mr.McNulty, that Gerrard is England's "main man" and how Gerrard is about to take the forthcoming tournament by storm. It is so utterly and nauseating to read given Gerrard's poor Euro 2004, average World Cup 2006 and dire World 2010 performances.

    If we had just had some honesty from the media about Gerrard for England - little chance of that from the BBC I suppose with Gerrard-Cheerleader-in-Chief McNulty and ex-Liverpool players Hansen and Lawro as pundits - then I would have no problem with Gerrard's struggles at international level.

    Afterall, there is no shame in trying but failing. There is, however, shame in refusing to acknowledge failure. Worse still is to keep praising said failure for little reason other than personal bias and doing anything but admit that you've backed the wrong horse as McNulty has repeatedly done with Gerrard for years now.

    "There has also been a discipline to Gerrard's displays that some of his critics claimed was a flaw. Confidence in himself and those around him means he has felt no need to take on every task - and the result has been that less has proved to be more in Euro 2012."

    Still you cannot help yourself! There are two reasons why Gerrard has delivered more disciplined performances in the France and Ukraine games. The first is Hodgson's gameplan which requires two disciplined central midfielders. The second is Gerrard's own admission that at 32 he can't quite get up and down the pitch for 90 minutes as he did until a few years ago.

    Moreover,

  • Comment number 20.

    Moreover, that Gerrard has delivered his best summer tournament to date because of these disciplined performances, clearly vindicates the idea that his previous lack of discipline was both detrimental to Gerrard's international game and indeed the performance of the England team. Once again, Phil, it would seem that you are extremely reluctant to admit that you've called it wrong about Gerrard for a long time now.

    "...he is playing better than ever at international level."

    See above for why this is the case. Some of us have lamented that Gerrard turned down the opportunity to work with Mourinho at Chelsea in 2004. That's precisely because some of us could see what Mourinho could have done for his game - just look at Joe Cole. Gerrard would have been a more disciplined, intelligent and efficient player than he was at his peak for Liverpool. Granted, Gerrard's all-action style has bailed Liverpool out more times than I can mention here but he would have been a better player if he had worked under Mourinho.

    As it is, Euro 2012 is by far Gerrard's best summer tournament to date. His all-round game has been good, although the lack of positional discipline started to creep back into his game against Sweden. Yet all in all, I'd have to rate him somewhere between 7 to 7.5 out of 10 for his tournament performance so far. And such a rating puts him amongst England's best players so far, if not the best.

    But the true star of England's Euro 2012 to date is the team as a whole. For once, because of Roy Hodgson, we are playing more as a team rather than a collection of individuals. Long may that continue.

  • Comment number 21.

    Post 15, Rommy88,

    Talk about missing the point!

    Gerrard and England are playing better precisely because Gerrard has been forced to play a disciplined role!!!

    Remember in 2010 when he was given a "free role" starting nominally form the left? England were dreadful because of it. When Gerrard goes wandering, it is like playing with ten men. Which is particularly bad news when the opposition is attacking and Gerrard is nowhere to be seen.

    Also, a nice omission about Walcott winning the Sweden game for us. But for the Arsenal man's contribution we would have lost the Sweden game and given that Sweden beat France, we would be on a plane home.

    But the Gerrard fanboys cannot help themselves. There has been excuse after excuse for his poor England career to date but now all the praise for England's group win, is given solely to Gerrard. Truly nauseating.

  • Comment number 22.

    There's some real unfounded, negative, comments flying about regarding Gerrard. i.e. gives the ball away too much, not being as creative as he could be? Are you mad?

    I can only assume these views are coming from biased opinions as there really is no other explanation. He's created a goal a game? Is that not enough? Is the bear minimum now 2 goals per game? And what about pass accuracy? Is 87% not enough over the 3 games? And don't get me started on the fact that he's won nearly double the amount of tackles that the second place England man has.

    Make no mistake, this guy has been the difference between us going home or us playing Italy on Sunday. I think a bit of appreciation is in order.

  • Comment number 23.

    Walcott got all the plaudits after the Sweden game, that's some serious confirmation bias you've got going there. There's nothing wrong with people praising our better players after good performances.

    As an aside, Gerrard's overall record with England is pretty good. Only 12 losses in 95 games with him in the side? That looks quite impressive next to other senior players in recent Endgland teams. Looking at the stats on the FA website.

  • Comment number 24.

    @Post#22, "I am not a number,"

    "And what about pass accuracy? Is 87% not enough over the 3 games?"

    I wonder what percentage of people believe invented stats when presented to them!? In other words, where's your proof for that claim?

    Afterall, The Guardian has Gerrard's pass completion rate against France at 66%. So it must have been a mighty effort for Gerrard to drag that rate up to 87% over the next two games. In other words, you're talking nonsense!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2012/jun/12/euro-2012-england-france-passing?newsfeed=true

  • Comment number 25.

    Gerrard is one of England's best ever players and now has a chance to seal a place as an England legend.

    http://jedidiahgore.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/greece-hoping-for-2004-esque.html

  • Comment number 26.

    robbieo79 @21

    Remember in 2010 when he was given a "free role" starting nominally form the left? England were dreadful because of it. When Gerrard goes wandering, it is like playing with ten men. Which is particularly bad news when the opposition is attacking and Gerrard is nowhere to be seen.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That is slightly unfair, half of England were tried on the left side and no one succeeded including Paul Scholes, it was a problem position compounded by the fact that no manager over a period of years, would play a left sided player on the left side.

    As for the idea of a slightly advance position with more freedom, it is possible if there is another player to step into Gerrards current position. There lies the problem we don't have one.

  • Comment number 27.

    @warbo1,

    rommy88's words were: "His "couple of good crosses" are what won us the group."

    Which is clearly nonsense. But where's you criticism of that?

    "Only 12 losses in 95 games with him in the side?"

    What were you saying about confirmation bias!?

  • Comment number 28.

    @ robbieo79 post#24 The guardian stat probably includes corners, free kicks, clearances, pretty much every touch. 87% is passes from open play over the 3 games.

    Against France: 84%, 3 key passes, 7 tackles. Detailed opta stats here: http://www.whoscored.com/Teams/345

    Pick whichever best suits you bias.

  • Comment number 29.

    26.At 01:53 23rd Jun 2012, Londoner in exile returns wrote:

    That is slightly unfair, half of England were tried on the left side and no one succeeded including Paul Scholes, it was a problem position compounded by the fact that no manager over a period of years, would play a left sided player on the left side.

    As for the idea of a slightly advance position with more freedom, it is possible if there is another player to step into Gerrards current position. There lies the problem we don't have one.

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

    First paragraph...Gerrard didn't play on the left in 2010. He started from the left with licence to roam. Big difference. And it was an unmitigated disaster because a) it ruined the team shape and b) Gerrard has NEVER had the game to warrant the "free role." And btw, Joe Cole was exceptional for England on the left from 2005 to some time around 2009 when those knee injuries began to catch up with him. He was also in the 2010 World Cup squad so there was the opportunity to play a proven left-sided player in South Africa.

    Second paragraph...how much more proof do some of you need to see that Gerrard cannot play such a role for England!? The more freedom he has been given, the bigger the failure he and the team have been. And guess what?! Now he has been told to play a disciplined role in midfield, he is playing better than he ever has for England and the team has a whole has improved.

  • Comment number 30.

    Robbieo79, your rant just had more of an impact I suppose. The negative tone was surprising given the nature of the article. I don't visit these comment sections often.

    I'd just been looking at the stats on the FA website, and this article is about Gerrard and England. Thought it was interesting.

  • Comment number 31.

    Robbieo @20

    Moreover, that Gerrard has delivered his best summer tournament to date because of these disciplined performances, clearly vindicates the idea that his previous lack of discipline was both detrimental to Gerrard's international game and indeed the performance of the England team.
    But the Gerrard fanboys cannot help themselves. There has been excuse after excuse for his poor England career to date
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I have no thoughts either way regarding Gerrard but it appears that you are the direct opposite to what you call a 'Gerrard fanboy'

    You have actually stated that Gerrard has delivered his best tournament to date. Who do you think picked him in the past, told him where to play, what to do in the position. It certainly wasn't Gerrard himself. Strange now that we have a coach in Roy, not everyones fav either but at least he is trying to adjust how we play, we may not like that either. I agree Gerrard is having his best tournament but it is dowen to the direction of a coach.

    We have had a succession of managers, playing eleven individuals without any thought, to what was best for a team. Gerrard/Lampard the classic example of what does not work and how many matches and tournaments were wasted?

    The most important part of any team is the coach and for years we have not had one that is suitable for England's needs. If blame is to be made for the past few years Capello, Erickson and McClaren are the culprits.

  • Comment number 32.

    Also on Gerrard starting on the left for England. As far as I can recall, he's never started there for Liverpool. Thought he was one of our better player in the first game against against the US in 2010, which turned out to be our best showing, them topping the group.

  • Comment number 33.

    robbieo70 @29

    First paragraph...Gerrard didn't play on the left in 2010. He started from the left with licence to roam. Big difference.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    He has been played left side in the past but on that one line 'with a licence to roam' your once again proving the point.

    Who do you think gave him that licence to roam as you call it? The, then manager of England.

    With the quality that we had over a ten year period we really should of made a better fist of tournament play.

  • Comment number 34.

    Gerrard is back to his best. He has performed excellent so far as England captain in the tournament.

  • Comment number 35.

    Unfortunately for Steven Gerrard, he has been played out of position for England to occupy other players which clearly did not work yet it's Gerrard who takes the flack because he didn't produce his club form.

    For once, and England manager is playing him in his favourite position but has it came too late and the answer is yes.

    Gerrard has had an excellent tournament and has shown what he is capable of but just because he is 'supposedly' only showing now his club form doesn't mean its his fault for performances coming in from the left or right.

    We should always play our best players in their best positions, unfortunately for England we never let Gerrard show his true form in his best position until now.

    Good Luck England

  • Comment number 36.

    I think sooner or later we will end up with Hart as captain.  There will always be a question mark over having a goalkeeper as captain but I think his personality and contribution will overcome one all concerns and that he will perform admirably in the role.

    Gerard is thriving in the absence of Lampard.  It is perhaps our greatest piece of good fortune that Lampard was injured.  Not that I have anything against Lampard - I'm a long term admirer.  But the irresistability of persisting with these two wonderful but intractably incompatible players has undone a number of managers.

    Meanwhile it is clear that something has clicked between Gerrard and Hodgson that has led to mutual belief and support which is doing both a power of good.

  • Comment number 37.

    @Post 28, Warbo

    UEFA's statistics:

    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/statistics/round=15172/players/type=passes/index.html

    If you seriously believe Gerrard has an 87% pass completion rate, then that is in the realms of Spain's players. Given that Spain play a quick passing, ball retention game and England are known for a relatively poor ability to keep hold of the ball, then it's fairly obvious that Gerrard does not have an 87% pass completion rate at Euro 2012.

    Post 30 @warbo

    My negative tone stems from years of reading McNulty's ridiculously myopic views about Gerrard!

    Post 32@warbo again!

    Gerrard didn't play left-side in 2010. I reiterate, "a free role starting nominally from the left."

    @Post 31, Londoner...

    Gerrard has had his preferred roles before for England. The idea that he has always been played out of his favourite position is a myth. In late 2007 he was England's "main man" in central midfield. Lampard was benched and Barry played alongside Gerrard. What happened? Gerrard was dreadful in that period, Barry carried him and England failed to qualify for Euro 08. With Gerrard as Captain. Fast forward to WC 2010...Gerrard had a free role and was Captain again. Gerrard was crap, England even worse and we got thumped 4-1 by the Germans. Therefore Gerrard cannot be absolved of responsibility as you appear to suggest!

    @Post 33, Londoner...

    Proving what point!? Gerrard was told he could play as he wanted in 2010...something his many cheerleaders had campaigned for many a year. As an afterthought, he started from the left wing.

    Yet you're suggesting that if we had another player who could step into Gerrard's current role, then Gerrard should be played in a "slightly more adventurous role!?" I cited WC 2010 as an example of what happened when Gerrard is given more freedom for himself at the expense of the team i.e it was a dismal and embarrassing failure.

    Or put another way, Gerrard is NOT a creative player. Granted, he can do a number of things to a decent level but he has neither the game nor intelligence to warrant a creative/slightly more adventurours/free role. He is a player who has little natural positional sense and requires a strong minded manager to reign him in and play disciplined football for the good of the team dynamic.

  • Comment number 38.

    I agree with most of the comments already posted, so eloquently put by @15 (although I have never rated Milner as a central midfielder, ...even Downing was preferred to him in the middle when they were at Villa, with Milner and Young offering the width in that side).

    I am of the opinion that Gerrard's performances have been of the highest order in this tournament so far, given that he has shown a disciplined side to his game that isn't in his nature but that demonstrates his tactical capabilities (something that I don't believe that Lampard or Wilshere, if fit, would have been able to have done, although I don't have any evidence to support this claim and am confident that Wilshere will become that player with more experience).

    England don't have a player of Alonso's class, so to suggest that Steven Gerrard should be playing on the right for England is fanciful (in my opinion). However, I would agree that he has played some exceptional games on the right for his club. I would also support the general consensus that he played extremely well when supporting a lone striker at Liverpool, but is Rooney a striker in the same mould as Torres or more recently Suarez? Again, probably not. Rooney works too hard outside of the box for a start!

    As for Sunday's game? Well, I think most observers of Italy so far would suggest that they've 'lit up' the tournament in the same way that England have! You've got two fairly efficient (the most polite word that I can think of) teams coming head-to-head, with most knowledgeable pundits suggesting a 1-0 or 1-1 scoreline (I certainly won't be betting much on a scoreline like the Germany vs Greece game earlier tonight!). I would love to see wingers who are going to be wingers (AOC, Walcott, even Downing) and 'have a go' at the Italian full-backs, rather than spend all of their time defending (Milner) and/or losing the ball (Young, who I picked out as a match winner before the competition began but has under-performed in the 'hole' and out wide) but I doubt that the winning formula will be changed. Who would blame the manager for sticking with it either?!

    One issue I have with the blog (and several others that have suggested the same recently) is the decision by Stuart Pearce to select Scott Parker as his captain. It is ludicrous to suggest that Gerrard was over-looked for the role when it was obvious (well, to me at least) that Parker was chosen because he had a very good chance of completing the full ninety minutes. Was a 32-year old Gerrard that had recently come back from injury and played 120 minutes in the Carling Cup Final on the Sunday ever going to play the full game against the Dutch? Of course not! Given his propensity to injury, and his (relative) importance to the national side, I think Stuart Pearce did what any patriotic coach with an ounce of sense would do. Namely, pick a captain for ninety minutes and avoid the armband 'merry-go-round' that we've seen in recent international friendlies.

    http://discussing-the-world-of-sport.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Comment number 39.

    @Post 35, Lee.

    How many more years are Gerrard's cheerleaders going to trot out the "he has never been played in his favourite position nonsense for England!?"

    It seems to be used purely when it suits. Afterall, Gerrard is now playing a predominantly defensive role with occasional bursts forward. Yet his many fans in the media have told us he is an attacking midfielder, a right-sided midfielder, a central midfielder...anything BUT a defensive midfielder.

    It seems to me that you guys can't make your minds up! And given the numerous midfield positions Gerrard has played for England...Central, right side, defensive, attacking and the free role...he has, by definition, at some point played his "favourite position."

    Jesus H Christ!!

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't understand we're all this praise for England is coming from. Honestly they have been a poor team in a poor group and they stumbled through playing boring negative football. Getting a wake up call from the Italians is inevitable. False hope for England

  • Comment number 41.

    The thing most people are missing here is the massive amount of defensive work Gerrard is getting through. Playing 4-4-2 against mainly 5 man midfields puts a huge amount of pressure on Gerrard and Parker. Both are putting in the kind of disciplined defensive performance that neither Lampard, Carrick or Scholes have ever been capable of.

    Gerrard is massively respected in Italy, as he has been utterly dominant against almost Italian club side he has faced, and they appreciate defensive work a lot more over there.

    People forget now that when he first came through he was tipped by Liverpool coaches to eventually make the switch to centre-half. My opinion is that he is one of a select number of players in football history who could play every outfield position at international level.

  • Comment number 42.

    @Post 41, JimSprout...

    "Both are putting in the kind of disciplined defensive performance that neither Lampard, Carrick or Scholes have ever been capable of."

    Frank Lampard has evolved into a fine deep lying/defensive midfielder when needed in that role for club and country. In fact I remember one particular fantastic England performance when England won 4-1 in Zagreb. Who were England's two central midfielders, instructed to play a disciplined and defensive role in that game? Barry AND Lampard. Who was missing from that game? A certain Steven Gerrard.

    "My opinion is that he is one of a select number of players in football history who could play every outfield position at international level."

    Why do Gerrard fans STILL feel obliged to write this kind of thing about him? You're really not helping the guy nor making the case for him with any degree of reason or balance whatsoever. Indeed, Gerrard has barely proved he can play every midfield position at international level. But as for him playing in defence or as a striker...oh please, get real.

    The only thing which is worthy of praise in your post is the bit about the defensive work Gerrard is doing...and doing well indeed.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ robbieo79 He does have 87% pass accuracy at this tournament. Check the whoscored link (opta stats). Watch the games. If you want to include corners/freekicks/crosses in your passing stats, fair enough. Gerrard takes corners and free-kicks so his will take a big hit if that suits you.

    It seems he's one of the most accurate crossers so far at 47%. Your number is all of these combined so you're not really looking at 'passes' from open play.
    http://www.whoscored.com/Blog/_h-i15jsj0uu30anyqd9sw/Show/Euro-2012-Focus-Player-Stats-Leaderboards

  • Comment number 44.

    Further to my previous comment, I'm in no doubt whatsoever that Gerrard's best position is at right-back. It's just that he's too good not to play further up the pitch. Not so much now, but at his peak, he was virtually unbeatable in a one v one when defending from wide positions.

  • Comment number 45.

    @robbieo79 Post #24

    Erm, how about Opta?

    You can get them here too: http://www.eplindex.com/15792/england-player-stats-accumulated-euro-2012-opta-stats.html

  • Comment number 46.

    @warbo

    He does have 70% pass accuracy at this tournament. Check the UEFA link (OFFICIAL stats). Easily done, eh!? ;)

    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/statistics/round=15172/players/type=passes/index.html


    "Watch the games."

    I have. And I KNOW from the memory of those matches alone that Gerrard has NOT completed nearly 9 passes out of ten...whether that is soley in open play or inclusive of dead-balls. As Gerrard never has done for England. It's simply not his game. Particularly at international level.

    Once again, Spain's midfielders have near 90% pass completion rates. Spain are a pass and retention based team and do it better than every other country in the world. England have always been bad at reataining possession...yet as if by magic, Steven Gerrard has bucked that trend whilst playing for an average international team, set up defensively, which struggles to retain possession!

    Really, you've just to apply that kind of common sense to know that Gerrard does NOT have an 87% pass completion rate at Euro 2012. Or put it in Premier League terms. The best passers of the ball each season usually are around the 90% success rate. So, someone such as Scholes at his peak, Fabregas when he was at Arsenal...or even little old Swansea who, like Spain, play a pass-retention based game.

  • Comment number 47.

    Re 42,

    Lol whether you have rated his performances highly or not, he has played in every midfield position for England without really ever disgracing himself in the manner that Lampard and Scholes did when they played on the left hand side.

    I'm not the only one who thinks he could play up front:
    'Stevie is a great finisher and can score great goals, so maybe he can play as a striker. When he is older and does not have the same pace, he will still have the accuracy and he can still be a great finisher. - Benitez.

    On the other hand, I think he could play centre-half as he has pace, power, reads the game well and is good in the air (although I admit this is quite speculative).

    I remember asking my Grandad what Duncan Edwards was like (he had seen him play live a few times) he replied "a great player, he could do everything, a bit like like Gerrard does now, only Gerrard is a bit better".

  • Comment number 48.

    @I Am Not a Number, Post 45:

    Erm, how about UEFA, the official statistics.

    You can get them here:

    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/statistics/round=15172/players/type=passes/index.html

    ;)

  • Comment number 49.

    Some passing stats include pretty much every touch, including clearances, tackles, even blocked shots. That's not what we really mean by pass accuracy. We mean accuracy from actual passes. Opta break it down.

    Gerrard has been better off a striker and right midfield than you give him credit for Robbieo. And he was a top class box-to-box center mid, where he won a load of individual awards early on, plus Uefa, league and FA cups with Liverpool. I just hope he can keep this form and concentration up and get back to near his best for his final few seasons.

  • Comment number 50.

    @ post #37 robbieo79

    ....also, by those stats you're going by, Gerrard has only attempted one cross in the whole competition?

    Which one do they think they're counting? The assist again France, Sweden or the Ukraine?

  • Comment number 51.

    Re 47,

    "....he has played in every midfield position for England without really ever disgracing himself..."

    Autumn 2007...Gerrard given "main man" status in midfield, Lampard benched, Barry played alongside to "protect" Gerrard. What happened? Gerrard delivers a series of woeful performances, Barry outshines him, England fail to qualify for Euro 2008.

    World Cup 2010...Gerrard gets a free role. What happenes? Gerrard was crap, England even worse and we get thumped by Germany 4-1.

    BOTH times Gerrard was Captain too. I would say that Gerrard, comfortably, disgraced himself on both occasions! And Lampard hasn't played on the left for England!

    As for your two quotes...well, Benitez has been proved wrong!? There has been no hint for club or country that Gerrard will end up as a striker! Benitez's words are merely - flattering - speculation. Besides, the player he is often rated against - Lampard - is a far better and more consistent goalscorer. Should Lampard therefore become a striker too!? I don't think so!

    And no doubt your Grandfather was a lovely man but a) I don't/didn't know him! and b) it's one random opinion! Afterall, I could simply say in response "My Grandfather saw Edwards play many times and said he was ten times the player of Gerrard!"

    For what it's worth, I have ALWAYS thought Gerrard should have been a defensive midfielder. But he lacked the natural discipline to play as one and has been too indulged by Liverpool over the years to play however he chose to. Not that worked badly for Liverpool though.

    But purely from Gerrard's perspective he should have become a great defensive midfielder but one who had the ability to make the occasional great long pass and equally, score the occasional cracking goal. Now, THAT would have been some player.

  • Comment number 52.

    @ Post 50, I am not a number,

    http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/season=2012/statistics/round=15172/players/type=assists/index.html

    Besides, the one against Ukraine wasn't really Gerrard's assist given that the ball hit three Ukraine players before getting to Rooney.

  • Comment number 53.

    @post #52 robbieo79

    I'm just asking, why they've only got him down ATTEMPTING ONE CROSS in the whole tournament? What the hell is all that about?

    It's taken about two seconds to find flaws in those stats and therefore challenge the credibility of the rest of your argument.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 49, Warbo,

    Well, that's how you're presenting it to give your link's stats credence. And the UEFA columns are quite clear - "Passes" attempted and "passes" completed.

    And we can all tell the difference between an attempted pass and a clearance. But no pass completion stats would include "tackles" or "blocked shots" for heaven's sakes!!

    You're really trying to force those unsubstantiated stats fit your bias!!

  • Comment number 55.

    @post 53, I.A.N.A.N

    Yet I've just linked you to official UEFA statistics showing three assists!?

    Honestly, it's as if you've fallen in a large African river...i.e "In da Nile."

  • Comment number 56.

    @52 robbieo79

    p.s. Opta only have Gerrard down with 2 assists. Agreeing with you that the Ukraine goal took deflections.

    That's 2 problems we've got with the Uefa stats (one picked out by you!).

    Stick to Opta, those guys know what they're talking about.

  • Comment number 57.

    I just can't trust the objectivity of anybody who gets as angry as some of the posters here do when people praise somebody who countless professionals past and current laud as one of the greatest players of the last, or any other, decade. They do, it's just a fact. So whatever Phil thinks, and whatever your opinion of McNulty, it seems silly to get so outraged at the suggestion that SG is as great as so many countless professionals with far more experience and knowledge than you also think and openly say he is...

  • Comment number 58.

    @53,

    Nah, you're alright, I'll go with the official stats thanks!

  • Comment number 59.

    It's not that hard robbieo79. I'm not forcing anything, just trying to explain it. The loss of possession stat on the BBC website after the Sweden game(?) even included shots.

    The opta stats linked are very accurate. If you want, you can add them all up and probably get your Uefa stat. If you're really talking about accurate passes from open play though, I think it's better if you only include passes from open play.

  • Comment number 60.

    @post 57, Alex Blanco...

    You might want to read the article again. It has little to do with Gerrard's standing as a "great" or not, nor what his legacy might or might not be. Rather, it's predominantly about his Euro 2012 tournament so far.

    So what were you saying about "objectivity" before launching into that strange passive-aggressive paragraph written above!?

    PS. Oh and you're a Liverpool fan...quel surprise!

  • Comment number 61.

    Warbo,

    Nope. You just have to watch Spain and then England/Gerrard to see what a real near-90% pass completion rate is. That you're suggesting that amongst the most successful passers who will be Spain's midfield...then maybe a few Germans, Italians, Sneijder...and then, er, Gerrard - a player not know for consistent accurate passing - playing for a defensive/counter-attacking England...is just daft. And I think you know it.

  • Comment number 62.

    @post #58 robbieo79

    So you're going to use the stats that you've just told me are incorrect?

  • Comment number 63.

    Robbie,

    I could debate with you all night, it's definitely more interesting than discussing worthless passing stats, but I have to sleep.

    Gerrard has played some bad games for England, both on the left and centre, but he has also had some very good ones too, so overall I would say he hasn't disgraced himself in either position.

    Lampard played one game for England on the left, quite a few years ago, around the same time Scholes did, I remember Terry laughing about it.

    Lampard is also a great finisher, but has never had the game to play up front, his career has been built on making late runs into the box.

    You could say that your Grandfather said that but lol you would be lying and I'm not. You can choose whether to believe him, but the fact is unless you're 80+ you have no idea (and that includes me, I can only go by what he said).

    And for your last comment, I can only say it is difficult for players who know that they can make something happen in attack to stay in defensive positions.

  • Comment number 64.

    Robbieo, this is silly now, but the big difference there is total passes rather than pass accuracy.

    Gerrard completed 91% of 53 passes for us against Ukraine. Add ~50% completion from the set-pieces he took and that'll fall a bit.

    Xavi completed 90% of 100 passes. Twice as many passes! Busquets 97% of 71, Iniesta 87% of 79. All using the same metric.

  • Comment number 65.

    ^^ That's the Spain-Croatia game.

  • Comment number 66.

    Been wanting to write this piece for quite a while eh Phil ;)

    Feel better now, nicely vindicated?

    Never have I read such a brown-nosing article on these blogs on the BBC. Capello this, Capello that... maybe , just maybe, Gerrard is not the superman you'd have us believe.

    He is a very good player on his day but there's no way you could include him in the Iniesta, Xavi or Pirlo bracket. His versatility is just another way of saying he doesn't excel in any one position.

    The fact that all of England's most dangerous, productive play has come from out wide proves that centrally him and Parker are there to spoil not to create.

    I'm not slanging "Stevie" but please, a little objectivity from the BBC's Chief Football Writer would be appreciated.

  • Comment number 67.

    Why the English press and supporters fail to acknowledge why Steven Gerrard is one of the great midfielder's of his generation will always baffle me and anyone else who is not English. Here we have a player who has been praised by every world class footballer in the last 10 years, past and present. He has pushed distinctly average Liverpool squads forward onto ridiculous results at home and abroad ever since he established himself as a first team player.

    Gerrard should have been made captain 5 years ago and had the team built around him for 2008-10-12, much in the same way the Germans suddenly realised that if they could tame their very similar midfield dynamo they were onto a winner , anyone else remember when Schweinsteiger was a mercurial talent who roamed freely from box to box winning games with his passion and desire? Gerrards talent, desire and winning mentality should have been nurtured into the heart of the England team years ago, maybe if it had then England would have the team it desperately craves every tournament.

  • Comment number 68.

    England's most dangerous play has come fairly consistently from Gerrard on the right, in all 3 games. The balls in for 3 of our 5 goals anyway.

    Here he is turning over Yarmolenko in the build up to Rooney's goal.
    http://i.minus.com/ibpB8msVc4RxqU.jpg

  • Comment number 69.

    @ 66

    Gerrard could play in any position ahead of almost every other England player barr Rooney, Hart and Cole. He can tackle, defend, score goals, reads the game well, pass the ball well. I would go as far to say that Gerrard is unfortunate he didn't get to play in the 96 team. Then he wouldn't have to do parkers job defending, be the creative midfielder as well as actually putting in a decent cross (I mean what are Milner and Young doing!?!!?!?!). He has constantly been held back by poor performances by others. How can he pass to anyone if they are all static? He has to do exactly what Rooney has to....drop back to get the ball because the players in front of the player with the ball don't move.

    He was Englands best player at WC2010. Check the ratings.

    I am so fed up of this Gerrard bashing. If anyone actually watched him against Ukraine and saw the complete performance he put in then I would have more respect for you but I can't help but wonder what game you were watching. He was involved in everything that we did, quite literally.

    If Gerrard had not played as almost everyone recommended before the tournament (surprise surprise!), we would be back now and wanting the PL to start today because we would have no football for 7 weeks. He is carrying England and just because he is a Liverpool player it doesn't make a difference to me. If Rooney wants to take over the mantle now then I will support him just the same.....

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • Comment number 71.

    I am not a Liverpool supporter but I wonder where they along with England would be without Steven Gerrard! It seems to me that every time he has the ball exciting things happen. It usually brings a goal mouth incident if not a goal for England and Liverpool. He is the most exciting player on the current England side and I have more confidence in this England side with him as captain then I have in a long time. Could go all the way.

  • Comment number 72.

    @69.

    I'm not bashing Gerrard, merely highlighting the sycophantic style of McNulty.

    Part of the problem here is that many supporters (and journalists it seems) are unable to put club bias to one side when it comes to the national team. For Chelsea supporters Lampard is the better player, for Liverpool's it's Gerrard and for Man United's it's Scoles. The discussion has raged for years.

    I guess what it comes down to is, what do you want from your central midfielder? Lampard the predatory goal-scorer, Scoles your patient playmaker or Gerrard your "box to box" driving force.

    The biggest disappointment for me as an England supporter is that successive managers have all failed to constantly get any of the three reproducing their club form.

    All three have been spectacularly wasted in an England shirt.

  • Comment number 73.

    62, I have told you no such thing. The only incorrect stats are the Opta ones.

    63, I think the autumn 07 period and WC 2010 are clear examples of Gerrard disgracing himself! But I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

    On Lampard...he has a better scoring ratio than Gerrard so surely he could be a striker too, based on Bentiez's words you cite re.Gerrard!?

    About your Grandfather's verdict...I can't take it as any more than just one opinion. And I don't like to comment about players I've not seen for myself...and Duncan Edwards was long before my time!

    64, I'm not sure the point you're trying to make there!? The debate is pass "completion" irrespective of how many passes were made. And it's even more impressive to have a higher completion rate for a higher number of passes! If Gerrard tried to pass as many times as Xavi in a game I think we all know Gerrard's pass completion ratio would drop even further!

    66, Good post. Nice to see another poster looking beyond the hype.

    67, How many more times!? Gerrard HAS had the role he has craved. Once in late 2007, Lampard was benched and Gerrard given "main man" status in midfield. What happened? We didn't qualify for Euro 2008 and Gerrard was inept in the last few McClaren games. Also in 2010 he had a free role. He was crap, England worse still and we got thumped 4-1 by the Germans. And on BOTH of those occasions Gerrard was Captain.

    In other words, the more responsibility and freedom Gerrard was given at those times, the worst he and England played. Or put another way, a major part of the problem in those two eras was Gerrard.

    On Schweinsteiger...what have Germany won in recent years!? Nothing. So he's hardly a good example. But the real catalyst for their forthcoming triumph in this tournament is Ozil. It is his talent which makes the difference at international level rather than industrious triers such as Schweinsteiger and Gerrard.



    All this is proven further by Euro 2012. Make Gerrard play a disciplined role for once...oh look! Gerrard is playing better and the team is functioning better too. Coincidence? Hardly.

  • Comment number 74.

    69, Complete and utter nonsense. You're saying that Steven Gerrard is so good that he is a better defender than Johnson, Terry and Lescott! Dearie me. And you wonder why some people think Gerrard is the most overrated England player in the last twenty years!?

    And Gerrard has had the "creative" role in late 2007 and WC 2010. Both times he was crap and both times ended in disaster - non-qualification for Euro 08 and a 4-1 thumping by Germany. Oh and, er, he was Captain at both those times too. Bravo!

    As for the suggestion that he has been held back by others...!? Fawning, fanboy rubbish. Gerrard has no-one but himself to blame for his poor England career. Furthermore, it is many of HIS performances which have so damaged England. Afterall, his erratic attacking game is simply not suited to international football. How much more proof do you need beyond late 07 and WC 2010!?

    "He was Englands best player at WC2010. Check the ratings."

    WHAT ratings!? The allstar team for the 2010 WC!? Well, he's not in that which suggests he had a forgettable tournament, no? But granted, Gerrard was one of our better players in 2010...but he was merely a better shade of "crap" than most of the others.

    As for his performance against Ukraine...get a grip! If Gerrard was so good in Euro 2012 so far then why is he not in the team of the first round, announced by UEFA? He had a good game against Ukraine but not a particularly exceptional one. Why is that his fans always have to try to embellish or over-egg-the-pudding relating to anything he does!? If anything, it's counterproductive.

  • Comment number 75.

    That's some nonsense robbieo79. The opta stats are spot on. They give you number of passes, crosses, through balls, long balls, and percentage completed for free there. Guardian chalkboards use opta to show you the direction and position of every pass in a match, in sequence.

    And do you really think playing more short passes with a team having more possession in general would lead a player to misplace a higher percentage?

  • Comment number 76.

    @ 72/74

    First of all Robbie, I have read your bile so far and calling it tripe would be something of a compliment.

    @72

    I totally agree with the unreasonable slating of players that play for a different club just like I hate the fact it is levelled at me that because I am a Liverpool fan I am praising Gerrard. I don't care who puts the ball in the net, supplies the cross or who is the best player and it should always be a case that loyalty to your club goes out the window when England play.

    Personally for me Gerrard is the best of the 3 but that may be down to the fact I am a Liverpool fan so watch more of his games but TBH, I wouldn't mind any of the 3 in my team. I think Scholes' credentials are lauded about far too much. My opinion but I don't think any lived up to their potential on the international scene. I mean who in the last 10 years can you say has been exceptional in the last 10 years? I am struggling to even find 1 person. I think Owen was the best since Linekar.

    @74

    You really are anti-Gerrard aren't you? United fan by chance?

    I pose this queastion to you - since 96 has anyone had a good career for England? Anyone covered themself in glory? Did the 'golden generation' deliver?

    Gerrard was UEFA's MOTM vs Ukraine....check their website.

    And Gerrard was not in the allstar team but on the FA website was Englands player of the tournament, like Lampard was in 2006.

    Gerrard was playing right back in the CL final and started off their when he joined Liverpool. Why was he on the left for so long? Because he is better than anyone so he is sacrificed from his natural position to cover England's frailties. This is why he is so much better for Liverpool.

    You are laughable.

  • Comment number 77.

    76.

    I couldn't say anyone has been "exceptional" for England over the last 10 years. The likes of Beckham, Gerrard, Scholes and Lampard have all had their individual games but none have had prolonged spells. I would say Ashley Cole has been our most consistent performer. Before then, or at least borderline 10 years ago, I would agree, Owen. He was one player that really frightened the opposition.

    It's difficult to pinpoint what the main reason is for the failed transition from club side to national team. (I don't buy into the argument that Messi can't yet be considered a true great because he hasn't won anything with Argentina).

    Obviously pressure has a major part to play. Do foreign players handle it better than ours do?

  • Comment number 78.

    Went looking for every touch compilations and found this nice Gerrard highlights of the group stage video: http://www.youtube.com/embed/BiZzpyRBn7w

    It's not too late to become a fanboy.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ 77

    Glad you agree re: Owen. And I agree that Ashley Cole has been the most consistent player at international level for us for the last 10 years. You always know what you will get from him - reminds me of Carragher or Terry at club level - 7/10, reliable on a bad day.

    I have always thought that England mirror Liverpool of the last 20 years - too much expectation. This tournament we are not hyping it up, expecting to win and it has worked wonders thus far. Pretty bad we know we have Germany waiting in the next round but the solidarity, certainly the way it is portrayed in the media and the press conferences I have heard are definitely a positive aspect.

    Messi IMO is the best player the world has ever seen, period. And I agree with you, he isn't 11 players so he can't win everything on his own and is reliant on the other 10 in his team, therefore he is not responsible solely for Argentina. Messmerising.

  • Comment number 80.

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

  • Comment number 81.

    eh stupid BBC website, I'll just finish.....when after the last WC i.....t appeared to have been accepted at last that apart from Rooney and Cole (add Joe Hart now) England are actually pretty rubbish and the golden generation talk was just a load of nonsense. Alas a few wins against average sides and England are world beaters again and Gerrard is the driving force behind their success..... As laughable as it is ridiculous!

  • Comment number 82.

    Expectation is definately a factor. And the press certainly have a part to play, it seems an almost perverse pleasure for some to build players up only to tear them down after a weak peformance. Take Phil Jones, after a few games early season he was being lauded as the best English defender since Tony Adams, a dead cert for future captain and now he's apparently lacking versatility, positional sense and basic skills.

    We seem to produce good defenders I think in part because of the way we're taught. The football is seen as hot potato that needs getting rid of rather than being wanted. When was the last time we produced a playmaker capable of dissecting an oppositions back 4/5? They do come around but very infrequently.

  • Comment number 83.

    As laughable as you. No one is claiming we are world beaters but undefeated under Roy is hardly a bad start.

    Maybe you need a reality check? Or is it that because Gerrard has been our best player and you hate Liverpool that you have to complain.

    The golden generation were hyped by the media...now the golden generation have disbanded we are not hearing this anymore when it was obviously detrimental to the team.

    Pretty much like you....

  • Comment number 84.

    @robbieo79

    Funny how you slate the blog for pro Gerrard bias then go completely over the top in the other direction.
    Gerrard is recognised by current players, ex players, managers, pundits etc as a great player. So are you telling me they are all wrong and you know better? Seriously?

  • Comment number 85.

    @ 78

    Thanks warbo1, those highlights say it all. And thanks SG.

  • Comment number 86.

    Mr Robbieo79 seems to be an angry bitter man. Love and peace.

  • Comment number 87.

    I agree about the good performance and leadership that Gerrard is showing at Euro 2012: he has definately been the best England player. But I also believe that England have shown very poor football and far too defensive approach.

    Game vs France was poor except the first 20 minutes - good character vs Sweden - very lucky vs Ukraine. Honestly the perfromance vs Ukraine is the most concerning: looks like too many people has been carried away with the result of the game. For long spells of the game England has been dominated by an average Ukraine team that easily lost 2-0 to France.

    I genuinely hope England will progress in the tournament but I am not so positive as many are in this blog.

  • Comment number 88.

    A perfect role model. SG makes me proud to be an england fan. I can't think of any other footballer I would be more pleased for to see lift the trophy. He deserves it. (fyi i am not a liverpool supporter. club loyalties should be irrelevant when supporting england. and i doubt that we will see him lift the trophy, but i will be cheering them on regardless - you never know in knock-out football.)

  • Comment number 89.

    On another note, "definitely" is spelt D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y. It comes from the word "finite" which just so happens to sit in the middle of the word you are trying to write. It has to be the most misspelt word on any comment page.

  • Comment number 90.

    @78 warbo1. Thanks for the video. That was fantastic. How can anyone not love the guy now? Truly outstanding stuff.

  • Comment number 91.

    Avoiding the battle between some posters on Stats which just prove that they can be used/manipulated to suit virtually any point of view Gerrard has been the victim of his own talent.
    For me his best role is defensive midfield but because he also has the ability to make his surging runs and score more than his fair share of goals from midfield I don't think that, for example, Benitez really knew where to play him.
    Whatever the reason(s) Gerrard has never seemed to settle in any particular role.
    There was also the "special" relationship he had with Torres seeing him playing just behind him for a while.
    The dream front- man combination was an interesting experiment but again emphasises that successive Managers (including Capello) looked at Gerrard as a multi- talented player versatile enough to play anywhere.
    This IMO has had a detrimental effect on his career and to Hodgson's eternal credit (so far!) has rightly realised that defensive midfield is Gerrard's greatest strength and the evidence in 3 games is that he's been 100% right.
    However Hodgson seems to have a blind spot with players like Milner who has, to say the least, been very disappointing.
    As has Ashley Young yet Hodgson persists.
    We can beat Italy with yet another disciplined performance however if we do get through then Hodgson will have to add more flair into our performance by gambling on players like The Ox who is young enough to have no fear and really torment defenders.

  • Comment number 92.

    Like a lot of players Gerrard gets vastly over-rated by his fans and vastly under-rated by his detractors.

    I think Gerrards been one of our better players this time around.

    I will say though if those opta stats are correct how come we have so little possession.

  • Comment number 93.

    If England win against Italy it will end against Germany. Gerrard, Rooney ... it will make no difference. 4:0, perhaps 5:0 McNulty.

  • Comment number 94.

    Stevie has been our best player in the tournament by a country mile. Him, Hart and Wellbeck have looked like the only players that look like they really belong at international level in the Euro's. As Jamie Carragher describes Stevie's talent '' the difference between Gerrard and Lampard is Frank had to work hard to become a world class player. Stevie was born to be a word class player''. Stevie is the best player ever to wear the three lions, by a long way.

  • Comment number 95.

    Gerrard has been magnificent as both player and captain.

    Where's that guy who said his presense was going to be 'malevolent' and 'deletorious'?

  • Comment number 96.

    This is a fair assessment of Steven Gerrard and also of Roy Hodgson. Each of them is a 'quiet man'. When he wants to talk with an individual player neither makes a public occasion of it.

  • Comment number 97.

    He's fantastic, Steven Gerrard always was the Captain for England quite how it took so long for someone with a bit of nous (Hodgson) to figure it out is beyond me?
    I had lost interest in England, but this regime has changed my opinion, well done to Hodgson and Gerrard.

  • Comment number 98.

    I'm of the school of thought that this is as much down to the absence of Lampard as it is to the captaincy.

    The stats are there to show that despite Lampard's good points, the two together simply don't gel. Gerrard plays to a higher level without him than with him. Whatever the reasons for this I don't care, the "Golden Generation" was all about playing our best players in whatever positions we could fit them in and much like Holland now, we were a set of individuals rather than a team.

  • Comment number 99.

    67.
    @67 mlaan07 wrote:

    Why the English press and supporters fail to acknowledge why Steven Gerrard is one of the great midfielder's of his generation will always baffle me and anyone else who is not English.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For years there has been a ridiculous amount of expectation / pressure placed on the England team, coupled with the fact that they didn't play as a collective unit, these factors meant they were bound to flounder at any major tournament. Too much pressure and not enough cohesion, meant that all the players got blamed for England's failures, especially their best one.
    You're absolutely right that the team should have been based around him years ago. Probably after he dragged Liverpool back from 3-0 down in the Champions League Cup Final. No England manager until now has realised that here is a player with a lot more character, resolve, and talent than the others.

  • Comment number 100.

    Gerrard should have been made the England captain at least 6 years ago. The England team should have been built around him then. It would have given him the sort of confidence and authority with England that he has at Liverpool, allowed him to make an even bigger impact in matches that could have made quite a difference to the fortunes of the England team.

 

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