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It's Lampard or Gerrard

Robbo Robson | 11:16 UK time, Monday, 13 October 2008

Fabio asked the fans dead nicely to be patient and polite at Wembley on Saturday and by half-time the stadium was full of supporters jabbing rusty nails into the palm of their hands like Michael Caine in the Ipcress File - just to stifle the desire to moan their bleeding heads off.

The Blue Bell was the same. In fact we had a Golden Moan competition, much like the Golden Goal but you won free booze for the week if you held the correct ticket for the timing of the first outpouring of bile.

There were also five quid on-the-spot fines for the use of any expletives in tandem with the words 'prima donna', 'Calamity James' and 'They can't play together, for *@!"*@ sake!'. After half an hour I was £30 down.

Frankly I thought it was one of England's worst halves of football in a long time. Capello wants to get rid of the fear in his players... and for 45 minutes they played with all the freedom and ease of a bunch of gazelles on Big Cat Diary. Alistair Darling's eyebrows looked more relaxed and tidy.

No-one on the pitch seemed to be quite sure of what he was doing apart from Heskey. Yes I am a two-faced low-life when it comes to Emile. When McClaren recalled him there was only one bloke in our pub who thought it was a good idea and, perhaps significantly, he was Scottish.

But he's been worth it every time. He knows his job and he gets on with it. He's probably the most selfless player on the pitch and in a team full of blokes with crappity telly programmes and grasping missuses on the go, it's exactly what's required.

Any road that's getting on for 300 words without actually writing in capital letters so here it is... LAMPARD AND GERRARD CANNOT START FOR ENGLAND IN THE SAME TEAM!
This is fact now. OK? Not speculation, not guesswork. Fact. In future the dilemma will become known as the Stank Gerpard Conundrum...

If you believe they can play together, then you probably believe the following:
1. That Katie Price Jordan (whatever she calls herself) has been a valuable role model to womankind.
2. That leaving a bunch of cash-hungry tossers in charge of the world's banks is a good way to guarantee you'll have a nice pension when you retire.

The Frank 'n' Steve debate is over. They are as compatible as steak and custard, Fergie and Wenger, Boyd and Burley, Geri Halliwell and music of any kind.

Capello proved himself a sensible coach by pulling Barry off at half-time 'cos he was being so rubbish he couldn't have passed a pensioner on his push-bike let alone a football, and putting on another wide man.

This did leave, however, the two replicants in the middle of the park and meant that even the plucky Kazakhstanis looked dangerous on the counter 'cos the back four were at their mercy. Fortunately Kazakhstan were, ultimately, a bit crap.

Then again, you can't really argue with 5-1! What more do we want, really?

Well I want to know why Theo turned from world-beater into a cute little glove puppet in one game, why Rooney isn't just left to play behind Heskey, 'cos that works, why David James looks about as coordinated as a Stade Francais rugby shirt, why Shaun Wright-Phillips displays no awareness of other players whatsoever and why no-one had the nous to work out after 10 minutes that corners and free-kicks would lead to a flipping hatful.

Of course the second-worst moment of the night came with the Cole-hole dug by the left-back. Cashley's suicidal give-away looked like he was dinking next-door's football back over the fence - although that kind of conjures up a picture of the Coles living in the middle of a terrace, which is unlikely. You probably need a rocket-launcher to get a ball from Cheryl's conservatory into next-door's garden.

But the worst moment of the night was what followed. I mean I've done stupid things on a football field meself. I once back-heeled the ball back to our keeper without realising the pillock had gone down with cramp and we lost 2-1. I told him he shouldn't have given me a shout, but he explained that 'Arggggggggghhhhhh, me leg!!!!' doesn't necessarily translate into 'Keeper!'

Any road at least I didn't have 500 unsympathetic dimwits booing me for the next 10 minutes - and it wouldn't have helped if they had. Simon Cowell couldn't have made me feel any worse about meself.

Cashley's not my favourite bloke either but for God's sake, people. There's a difference between a good old moan and outright bloody ignorance - even if there was a touch of pantomime about it.

Any road, it's Belarus next. It's another sort of bit of ex-Russia, isn't it? I can't keep up, me. I hope (although I'm not convinced) Capello will resist the Stank Gerpard conundrum and we'll have a team that reads:

James, Brown, Ferdinand, Upson, Bridge, Walcott, Gerrard/Lampard, Barry, SWP, Rooney Heskey.

I'd prefer Woodgate to Upson. And I'd go for Gerrard. But as long as it's not both I don't give a monkey's. And England to claim a 2-0 victory, 'cos for a team to win that well while playing that badly on Saturday suggests Fab must be on to something.


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