2 Mar 2008

Arrigo Sacchi: Steven Gerrard is not a 'great player'

I have argued repeatedly over the years that Steven Gerrard is not a world class footballer, and it seems that Italian legend Arrigo Sacchi holds the same view.

Is Sacchi right? Vote in the poll here --->>

In a recent interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he stated:

“When I was director of football at Real Madrid I had to evaluate the players coming through the youth ranks. We had some who were very good footballers. They had technique, they had athleticism, they had drive, they were hungry.

"But they lacked what I call knowing-how-to-play-football. They lacked decision making. They lacked positioning. They didn't have the subtle sensitivity of football: how a player should move within the collective. And for many, I wasn't sure they were going to learn".

“You see, strength, passion, technique, athleticism, all of these are very important. But they are a means to an end, not an end in itself. They help you reach your goal, which is putting your talent at the service of the team and, by doing this, making both of you and the team greater.

"In situations like that, I just have to say, Gerrard's a great footballer, but perhaps not a great player."

This is exactly what I have been arguing for years: Gerrard does not have, as Sacchi describes it ‘the subtle sensitivity of football’. He cannot creatively dictate the place of play, his positional indiscipline is detrimental to the team, he prefers to play at 100 mph, which affects his decision-making at times and his lack of real footballing intelligence is regularly exposed.

Gerrard may do the business in the premiership, but on the biggest stage - i.e. major international tournaments - he does not have a consistently world-class impact.

Of course, the rabidly fanatical Gerrard fan-club will not accept Sacchi's views, and he will be dismissed as a nobody, and the predictable ‘but what about the CL final’ mantra will be wheeled out again.

Sacchi clearly knows what he’s talking about – he took Italy to the World Cup Final, and took the great Milan team of the late 80s - arguably club football’s most exciting ever team* – to amazing heights of breathtaking football rarely matched since.

It is so refreshing to see a high profile figure in the press telling it like it is. I have always conceded that Gerrard is great premiership player. But world class he is NOT.

World class status should be preserved for the undisputed greats of the game, the likes of Zidane, Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Maradona etc.

Gerrard is just not in that class yet.

*Behind Liverpool's 80s dream team of Barnes, Beardsley et al of course!


  1. i think if you ask barns and beardsly they woul tell you gerrard is agreat player even one of the greatest players of all time zidane said that gerrard is the best player in the world, your dislike for gerrard is clouding your judgement and is looking rather childish

  2. I do not dispute that Gerrard is a great player - it is not his ability with which I have a problem. Can't you see this?

    The problem I have is that is seems like ability is a get out of jail card for everything. Gerrard dives: who cares, he's a great player! Gerrard things England is more imrportant than Liverpool FC: who cares, he's a great player! Gerrard tapped up Gareth Barry in public: who cares, he's a great player!

    I have no doubt that if Gerrard regularly spat at other players, fans would be saying: who cares, he's a great player!

    Barnes and Beardsley are entitled to their opinions. They would never say anything negative about the club anyway, mainly because the short-sighted fans do not have the wisdom to see accept the truth, and would probably turn on two of the greatest players the club has ever seen.

  3. get used to it lad cos stevie and rafa are gonna be here fo a long time, happy days

  4. What on earth are you writing, you are clueless vomiting up a inane diatribe with NO basis in fact. You begi by saying that he is not a great player - then you say he is when you are challenged, finally ending with a rant about how he would / could get away with things (spitting, tapping-up etc. Speculation, speculation, Please get another job that does not require the formulation of sound argument and objectivity - surely the hallmarks of even the most debased hack.

  5. 'Debased Hack' - I have to admit, that made me laugh! It has that 'zing' to it that marks out all great insults.

    If you're going to paraphrase me, then at least have the courtesy to not misrepresent what I say.

    I did not start out by saying Gerrard 'is not a great player'; I started out by saying he is not WORLD CLASS. There IS a difference.

    Furthermore, the title of the a references a direct Arrigho Sacchi quote, not my thoughts. That is very obvious, but you knew that.

    There are lots of great players who are not world class. In my view, a player can only be considered to be world class when he has had a considerable personal impact on a major international tournament.

    When Gerrard achieves this, then he can be classes in the same bracket as the likes of Zidane, Pele and Maradona.

    Without such a distinction, the term 'world class' is pretty meaningless.

  6. Given that ANY team in the World would have Gerrard play for them - I think the argument (semantic at best, pedantic at worst) is entirely flawed. The opinion of Benitez, Ferguson (he'd have him if he could), Mourinho, Capello, Hiddink, Trappatoni et al is clearly worth less than yours.

    Equally, given that Giggs has not achieved "considerable personal impact" on an international tournament, should we cosider him also as not a great player?

    However, I must congratulate you on generating debate on the issue.

  7. Hate to say this but Gerrards personality and /or attitude (diving,tapping up players) has nothing to do withy his performances on the field or his ability as a footballer.

    Whilst Sacchi makes a fair point about Stevie's lack of positional play and tactical awareness,you on ther other hand seem to be judging him on other criteria.

    Stevie's biggest problem is understanding his role in the team or rather the fans perception of this matter.

    He 'could' play as an out and out playmaking midfielder for us (like he did in the Houllier days). But is that getting the best out of him?
    Rooney could score 20 + goals a season if he played higher up the pitch. So why doesnt he then? Same reason why Stevie's moulded in a 'hole'/free role/supporting striker instead. 
    Because in that position he is more effective than any player in the world,which is a fact!

    Once you learn to judge him as a footballer and NOT a 'central midfielder' (which he started off as,but has now evolved into a new role  )you'll probably view him in better light.

    How he dint even make your Greatest LFC 11 BENCH is certainly irrational and bias thinking on your part.

  8. yeaaaaaaaaaa, hes at chelsea now you mug

  9. Ferguson says the same thing too, so I guess you're right about him!

  10. Jaimie! i have been following your articles for quiet a long time now as a Liverpool fan from Nigeria and I must say you just love criticism ......if I have a correct adjective to describe you in this case, then i will say you are more than wrong

  11. I've been observing the various comments on "Gerrard - the world class player". I happened to be a die hard fan of AC Milan and I watched that final between Liverpool and Milan in 2005. Now I can agree with one fact i.e. Gerrard is a legend for Liverpool but definitely not a world class player. When you talk about world class you must look into the qualities of a player at the international level. That is world class. Zidane, Brazillian Ronaldo, Cannavarro, Baresi etc. have all made it big at this level while Gerrard has not. Hell he has not won a domestic league title. I have seen this kind of hypocrisy not only in Liverpool fans but in English club fans as a whole. Man Gerrard became a martyr after winning that CL in 2005.I have always disagreed with this notion as he has not made a positive impact on football fans in Italy, Spain or Brazil for that matter. Stars like Maldini, Ronaldo, Beckham, Kaka, Del Piero are remembered not only for their achievements at club level but also in the international arena. According to me, Gerrard has a lot to prove. Forza Milan :)

  12. did Beckham win anything for england? If not, how on earth you claim him a world class player?

    Gerrard is definitely a world class. But you need a team to with international games. And the fact is, England never quite delivered. This happened to Beckham as well.