21 Nov 2007

Croatia debacle reinforces the assertion that Steven Gerrard is NOT world class

Steven Gerrard’s abject ability as a Captain was exposed once again as England suffered ignominious defeat to Croatia.

I’ve said it once and I'll say it again: Gerrard is not a leader. He does not have the strength of character, the fighting mentality or motivational power to be a consistently effective Captain. This has been proven time and time again for club and country.

England were wretched in every respect, and the so called ‘Golden Generation’ were exposed for what they really are: Limited, technically inept primadonnas, drunk on their own hype, whose competitive edge and work ethic has been dulled by rampant egos and shameful avarice.

For once, Alan Hansen had the guts to tell it like it is when he said ‘I can't believe how poor Steven Gerrard was’. Gerrard has been poor for England for a long time, but his international failings have been glossed over by the fawning media and the blind faith brigade who refuse to accept the truth.

Yes – I said Gerrard is NOT world class. The media hype him and every other English player with a smidgen of talent as ‘world class’ but the evidence does not support this hollow assertion. If Gerrard IS world class, where is the proof?
I can already guess the response from the ‘Steven Gerrard can do no wrong’ club: But what about that goal he scored against Olympiakos?! What about Istanbul!? What about the FA Cup final?! But Alex Ferguson said so!

These things do not make a player world class! Gerrard is an excellent premiership-class player – a true example of a typical English midfielder: Lots of huffing, puffing, tackling and endless stamina but precious little skill, creativity, footballing intelligence or consistent technical ability.

Truly world class players deliver not only in their domestic league but on the INTERNATIONAL stage. Any player who does not deliver in the big tournaments cannot be considered world class. There are of course exceptions to this, such as George Best, who never got to play in a major tournament, but players like him are a special case. The whole idea of ‘world class ability’ needs to be redefined, and in my view, achievement on the international stage should be the main criterion.

Steven Gerrard has been a consistent failure on the international stage, and his impact on England has been less than negligible. In Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006, the hype about Gerrard was sickening. Did he deliver? Of course not.

But someone else is always to blame for Gerrard’s failings: It’s the Manager’s incompetence; It’s failing to play him in the centre; It’s Lampard restricting him; the system was wrong for him and blah blah blah. No – Gerrard, like his overpaid pals, is just not good enough on the world stage.

The likes of Zidane, Ronaldinho, Maradona, Cruyff, Platini, Beckenbauer, Puskas, Eusebio, Pele etc all consistently delivered on the world stage – that is why they can justifiably be labeled world class. Gerrard does not deserve to be named in the same sentence as the true legends of the game, and to even think that he is on a par with the true world class greats is a complete joke.

Gerrard talks a good game, but actions speak louder than words. I cringed in the pre-Croatia build up as Gerrard issued his rallying cry of how England had to ‘die out there’ and how the players had to ‘give everything they’ve got’. Gerrard does not have the motivational ability to inspire players to give it everything they’ve got!

This was obvious against Croatia; there was a disgraceful lack urgency in the players as the Croatians were given all the room in the world to weave their magic. Gerrard barely said a world all night to his team-mates, and the real lack of proper leadership on the field was palpable.

All we’ve heard over the last week is how much Gerrard loves England, and what an honour it is to Captain the team, and how the Croatia game would be the biggest moment of his career. So where was the passion Stevie?! Where was your fabled ‘world class’ ability?! Where was the much vaunted passion and inspirational leadership?

A real Captain would not have let the heads go down after Scott Carson’s howler, and would’ve had a quick word with the stricken keeper in an attempt to restore his confidence. A real Captain would have been pushing the players on and cajoling all night. A real Captain would have fought tooth and nail to keep the confidence and self-belief flowing. Gerrard did none of these things. As per usual in the big games, whether it’s England or Liverpool, he hid and singularly failed to shoulder the responsibility.

After the game, Gerrard came out with a real corker:

"The effort was there but the result wasn't. That's what was important”.

What effort?! The magnitude of the game seemed lost on England’s apathetic losers as they ambled around the pitch without breaking sweat for the entire game. Just as Steve McClaren didn’t want to get his hair wet, the England players didn’t want to get their hands dirty, and as the so-called ‘inspirational leader’, Gerrard must take the lion’s share of the blame.

Of course, Gerrard was not solely to blame, but given his pathetic comments over the last week about foreigners taking over the league and how England are more important than Liverpool, he deserves all the criticism coming his way.


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