With enforced absences making their meetings in the England some what fleeting of late, the Steven Gerrard/Frank Lampard debate has reared its ugly head ahead of the Kazakhstan match this weekend. As far as I am concerned the debate should have been over a long time ago.
Gerrard and Lampard are undoubtedly England’s two most talented attacking midfielders (for their club sides at least), but they are incompatible together. That does not take anything away from either player as an individual – it is simply indicative of the fact they the do the same sort of things on a football pitch. You could argue that David James and Robert Green – last weekend excepted – are the best goalkeepers in the country at the moment, but you would not expect Fabio Capello to fit them into the same England team.
That is an exaggeration, of course, but the fact remains that they have numerous opportunities to play together and they have rarely done it successfully. Lampard is now into his thirties. How much longer do you hold out hope that they will one day click together? Lampard has given an, erm, frank account of the duo’s recent England performances.
He said: “If we are both honest, and Stevie is a very honest man in the way he speaks about things, we both haven’t played as well for England as we have for our clubs, particularly over the last two seasons. That’s the case whether we’ve played together or separately. We have to try and make it work.”
That just gives me a nasty sense of deja vu. It is not a long-term option. The only remote chance of them playing effectively together is if they both played behind a lone striker and you built the team around them. Unfortunately, England do not have a particularly suitable lone striker and most of the squad’s heads would explode at the thought of not playing 4-4-2.
Gerrard’s versatility unfortunately always counts against him. Various pundits are calling for him to be deployed on the left, on the right, or even at right-back. To be fair he is probably one of the best right-backs in the world, but he has not played there for years and it is a waste of his attacking talents. Personally, I would like to see them competing for the one slot. By their own admission, neither has produced their best form for England recently so why not see whether the prospect of not adding to their England caps shakes them into life.
In any case, the debate ought to be academic for now. If Lampard and Gerrard cannot play together against Kazakhstan then neither of them deserve to be in the team anyway.