21 Mar 2008

Drop the spin, Rafa. Four defeats in seven games proves that Steven Gerrard is not an 'inspirational captain' for England

In response to speculation that Fabio Capello is about to snub Steven Gerrard for the permanent England Captain role, Rafael Benitez has argued that Gerrard should retain the job as he has ‘shown he can do the job well’. However, a cursory glance at Gerrard’s 7 games leading the team show that this is, in fact, pure nonsense.

In Gerrard's defence, Benitez argued: "Steven has captained England before and he has shown he can do the job well so I am surprised that there is talk that he might not be captain in England's next game.

"It is not up to me to make the decision and Capello is lucky because he has some very good candidates for captain but if he was to ask me I would tell him that Steven is the right man.

"Terry and Barry are both good players and good captains for their clubs so they are good options for England. But I see Steven every day, in matches and in training, so I know what he brings to Liverpool and that is why I think he would be the right man”.

So let’s examine Benitez’s assertion that Gerrard has ‘shown he can do the job well’. Below is table detailing every game in which Gerrard has captained England.








International Friendly (Away)





International Friendly (Home)





Euro Qualifier (Home)





Euro Qualifier (Away)





International Friendly (Away)





Euro Qualifier (Home))





International Friendly (Home)



How exactly does 4 defeats in 7 games prove that Gerrard has shown he can do the job well?! Against the minnows, England do well under Gerrard’s ‘leadership’, but when the going gets tough, he does not have what it takes to motivate the team.

This is most obvious from the two crucial defeats against Russia and Croatia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers. These two games were vital to England’s qualification hopes, and this is where Gerrard’s so-called ‘inspirational leadership’ was needed.

It never materialized though, as England put in two shocking, directionless displays that led to England embarrassingly failing to qualify for the tournament.

If there is one game that sums up Gerrard’s failure as England captain, it is the ignominious defeat to Croatia.

All we’d heard in the week leading up to the game was Gerrard eulogizing in the press about how much he loved England; what an honour it was to Captain the team and how the Croatia game would be the biggest moment of his career.

But when it came to the crunch, the fabled ‘world class’ ability and much vaunted passion and inspirational leadership was nowhere to be seen.

There was a woeful 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.

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.

Of course, Rafa is obviously going to say that Gerrard should be captain of England. After all, he probably knows that the only way to keep Gerrard happy is if everything is going his way.

If Capello dumps Gerrard from the England captaincy, it will inevitably mean a period of sulking, which will no doubt affect his performances for Liverpool.

Benitez also managed to crowbar-in the ultimate Gerrard cliche: "If you think back to Istanbul and the FA Cup final against West Ham in Cardiff you will remember how inspirational he can be as captain."

This is all we hear from Gerrard apologists in response to any criticism of Gerrard's leadership ability. My question is this: When has Gerrard ever inspired England (as a player or a captain) in the way Benitez describes?

Never is the answer.

This is why he is the wrong choice to be England Captain. As much as Liverpool fans loathe John Terry, club-bias should be put aside and the facts should be taken into account.

In 13 games as Captain, England have won or drawn 11 games under Terry and lost only 2. Terry is clearly a more vocal, motivational, successful England captain than Gerrard and I would argue he has more of a ‘common touch’ than Gerrard, in that he isn’t a sulker, isn’t as self-absorbed and probably commands more respect.

Of course, I will be slated by short-sighted fans who can’t understand how as a Liverpool fan, I can praise John Terry.

Tunnel vision is not the mark of an intelligent fan in my view; Liverpool fans have always been thought of as knowledgeable precisely because they know when to accord respect and praise to rival teams/players.

In any event, I’m sure Capello’s feelings will have been swayed by Gerrard’s recent public rant – not the best example of someone being an inspiration to the team.

Capello may also have taken note of how Gerrard Stabbed John Terry in the back by shamelessly lobbying for the captain’s role when there was speculation that the FA wanted a change.

Rafa can spin the situation all he wants, but if the reports about Capello are true, then it (thankfully) proves that the Italian can see what I’ve been arguing for years: That Gerrard is a poor Captain for England.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more !!

  2. the statistics speaks for themselves. maybe the stats from 2004 should not have been brought up seeing it happened 4yrs ago and a lot can change during the 4yrs. but yeah good point on why gerrard shouldn't be skipper.