14 Sept 2013

'He made a mess of it' - Carra blasts boss, & backs Lampard over Gerrard. Agree...?

Having proven their worth over a number of years, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Chelsea's Frank Lampard remain fantastic players for their respective clubs, but like so many of the laughably monikered 'Golden Generation', they've consistently failed to make an impact on the international stage. Apparently, Lampard and Gerrard can't play together, and the inability to solve this particular problem is one of the key reasons for England's underwhelming performance over the last fifteen years. Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher disputes this, however, and argues that weak management is to blame for Gerrard/Lampard conundrum.

Whatever way you slice it, the 'golden generation' - of which Gerrard and Lampard are a huge part - will go down in history as consistent failures for England, and their abject performance in major international tournaments - inevitably to be repeated at next summer's World Cup - will assure this.

Successive England managers have failed to get the best out of Lampard and Gerrard, but Carragher believes that Sven Goran Eriksson is the biggest culprit in this regard. In his column for the Daily Mail today, Carra observes:

"Eriksson made a mess of whether Gerrard and Lampard could be a partnership. Of course they could have. A strong manager would have told Steven to play the holding role — that is more in his make-up — and to let Frank go forward. But he didn’t. He fudged it. That’s why Scholes ended up out on the left and eventually in international retirement".

Carra is arguably right here. Lampard is not - and never has been - a holding/defensive midfielder - He is an attacking midfielder, and whether Reds fans choose to accept it or not, Lampard is more effective (in terms of end product) than Gerrard in that particular role. Conversely, Gerrard can play multiple positions effectively, including defensive-midfield, though his tactical indiscipline can sometimes lead to problems (2005 CL final first half, anyone?)

The choice is simple (IO): play the most prolific midfield scorer/creator in the most advanced midfield position. It's not rocket science, and the stats persuasively and unequivocally support Lampard's case:



* 159 goals/101 assists in 634 apps (31 penalties)
* Goal every 4 apps.
* Goal/Assist every 2.4 apps.


* 242 goals/125 assists in 809 apps. (58 penalties)
* Goal every 3.3 games
* Goal/Assist every 2.2 apps.

Lampard's goalscoring rate in the Premier League alone should've been enough to guarantee him the attacking midfield slot for England. To date, he has 165 Prem goals, which dwarfs Gerrard's total of 98. To put this achievement in context, that's two more than Robbie Fowler (!), and only Shearer, Henry and A. Cole have scored more in the Premier League era.

Obviously, as a Liverpool fan, I prefer to see Gerrard playing in an advanced role, and I would always have Gerrard ahead of Lampard in any team. However, the stats don't lie, and as Carra argues, Lampard is clearly more suited to playing the attacking-mid role for England.

Not that I care either way - I support Scotland (born there) and Germany (raised there), so I revel in England's constant football failure, and long may it continue :-)

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