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Why Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard Should Not Be England Captain

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27 year-old Liverpool captain and midfield player Steven Gerrard is widely tipped to be the captain of Fabio Capello’s new England team. He is regarded as an automatic choice for the national side and as one of the World’s best players.

Does Gerrard justify the hype?

Steven Gerrard made his debut for Liverpool in 1998 and has been a one club man ever since. He is rightly regarded as a hero by the Anfield fans having scored 52 goals in 290 passion filled appearances for the reds. During that time he has driven Liverpool to two FA Cup wins, two League Cup wins, a UEFA Cup win, and of course, the 2005 Champions League victory over Milan.

On an individual level Gerrard was awarded PFA Player of the season in 2006 and PFA young player in 2001. He is regularly chosen by his fellow professionals in the Premier League team of the year.

Although he has never been able to lead Liverpool to the Premier League title their fans so desire, there is no doubt that Gerrard, who was voted the most valuable player in their successful 2005 Champions League tournament, deserves all the accolades he has been given at club level.

So should he be an automatic choice for England, is he one of the World’s best players, and should he be the captain of the national side?

Gerrard has made 63 appearances for England scoring 12 goals. He made his debut in 2000 and scored his first international goal in the memorable 5-1 demolition of Germany in 2001. He missed the 2002 World Cup through injury, and would prefer to forget the 2004 European Championships. In that tournament it was his very poor back pass late in the game that saw us to lose to France, and he was substituted following an ineffective performance in the game against Portugal in which England were eliminated.

In the 2006 World Cup Gerrard did manage to score three goals in the group stages but was one of many players who ‘went missing’ in the game against Portugal that saw England heading home. Gerrard was one of the three England players who missed during the penalty shoot out.

In 2007, Gerrard skippered the England side in their crucial game against Croatia at Wembley when a 3-2 defeat saw them fail to qualify for the 2008 European Championship finals.

Steven Gerrard is a player who plays with passion. He ‘wears his heart on his sleeve’. For Liverpool this has often been enough to grab a game and his team by the scruff of the neck and pull them kicking and screaming to victory. In international football, passion and drive isn’t enough. Midfield players need to have the subtlety and flair to open up the best defences in the World and Gerrard has never shown he possesses the necessary skills and abilities to do so.

Earlier this season Rafa Benitez substituted Steven Gerrard in the derby game at Everton. The move was greeted with dismay and disbelief by the Liverpool fans, but they forgave Rafa when after Gerrard went off a 1-0 deficit was turned into a 2-1 win. After the game Benitez said that Gerrard had been playing with too much passion. The ‘experts’ on Sky TV have ridiculed the Spaniard for using that phrase. “How can anyone play with too much passion in a Merseyside derby?” they have asked. I understand totally what Benitez meant. Gerrard was running around the field like a headless chicken desperately trying to turn the game around on his own.

When Gerrard plays like that he can regularly over hit passes, try to do too much on his own and occasionally lunge into tackles that are a little ‘x’ rated. In that game against Everton, Gerrard was doing all of these things and Benitez was quite right to bring him off.

Much has been made of the partnership between Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the centre of England’s midfield. There has been an ongoing argument about whether they can play in the same team for many years. It hasn’t worked very often, but that is a criticism of the players, who have never reproduced club form in the international arena, rather than it being a physical impossibility for them to play in the same team.

Time and time again Steven Gerrard has failed to perform to the expected levels for England. I believe that at times he has shown himself to be a World class player when playing for Liverpool, but that has never been apparent in an England shirt.

I do not believe that Gerrard should be an automatic choice in the centre of the England midfield and I certainly don’t think he should be captain. Rio Ferdinand oozes class for club and country and would be a fine captain for Capello who likes his captains to lead by example. In the midfield area Gareth Barry of Villa and Jermaine Jenas at Tottenham are having excellent seasons and will be unlucky not to be selected. Ashley Young could well start on the left which would open a position for Joe Cole in the midfield. Owen Hargreaves has been one of England’s best players recently, and unlike Gerrard he produced the performances when they mattered.

I would sum Steven Gerrard up as great player for Liverpool, and a constant disappointment for England.

Comments (56)

  1. What utter garbage, to say you’d have Rio over Gerrard is ridiculous, don’t get me wrong Ferdinand is a fantastic player, but he does have a tendancy at times to go missing, like many other players.
    It’s not just a question of being a leader on the pitch, but also how people behave off it. Gerrard unlike Terry and Ferdinand end up in the papers for the wrong reasons, and that is no way to be a role model for the kids aspiring to be like their heroes.
    And lets face it, Ferdinand is a complete knob off the pitch.
    Point made.

  2. I did say he is a great player for Liverpool!

    Scum of the earth is a bit strong!

  3. Constant disappointment? Do you even know what you’re talking about? most people tend to concentrate too much on Steven Gerrard when in fact there are 10 other players on the field and Gerrard seems to be the one always trying his best and achieving brilliant levels of skill and leadership, when most of the other players destroy the flair of English football.

  4. I dont think Gerrard is suited to England captain but not for the reasons you stated. If I had my way none of the Liverpool players would play for England because I see England as nothing more than an unwanted distraction. As for suggesting Ferdinand… Hahahahaha a captain with a some what tainted past and missed drug tests.

    Were not English, we are Scouse!!!!

  5. When Gerrard went off in the Merseyside derby, it was 1-1, AFTER HE HAD WON THE PENALTY FOR THE EQUALISER. I stopped reading as soon as I read you had got that wrong. Proves what a biased, clueless idiot you are.

  6. I love the way 95% of this article relates to steven gerrard and the remaining “bit” suddenly proposes rio ferdinand out of nowhere like a magician pulling a rabbit out of the hat. Im not an english national im an irish liverpool supporter but unlike a lot of irish people i dont mind seeing england do well and want them to succeed. I think rio ferdinand doesn’t have the concentration to be captain. He is also a little immature at times. He’s england’s best defender with the ball at his feet, great skill however, doesn’t put it to the best use all the time. I think john terry is better to have on the pitch for 100% commited defending. I’ve often wondered what ferdinand might do if given a sweeper role as he could release midfielders and strikers and move up the pitch himself. In a way, he’s a little like gerrard in that he doesn’t fit his conventional role. keeping Terry as captain would be a good idea. it provides stability from what went before, to now. he is experienced at it, he’s first choice when available as well all the time. if you look at the press over the last few years it’s always “terry and …” in defence and mostly thats rio but not always.

    I think a bigger problem for england is cultivating an out and out left winger

  7. This is a ridiculous article to say the least. Gerarrd’s form for England admittedly hasn’t been up to the high standard he sets himself for Liverpool, however we have constantly had England managers who haven’t got any tactical nous which is probably why Lampard falls into the same bracket. Is it any coincidence that these two undoubtedly world class players have not excelled for England

  8. I did realise that attacking Steven Gerrard may be a little like attacking the queen. It should not be done.

    I would like to say that in the article I have said that Gerrard is ‘rightly regarded as a hero in Liverpool’, ‘There is no doubt that he deserves all the accolades he has been given at club level.’

    The reason I have been so disappointed with him at international level is because he is World class for Liverpool but fails to produce it for the national side.

    I don’t hate Gerrard, I rate him highly in his club colours. I am certainly not a Manchester United fan!

    I apologise for the oversight regarding the score at the time of his substitution against Everton.

  9. As someone has said – we are not English – we are Scouse.

    Hardly any Liverpool based Liverpool fan wants Gerrard even playing for England.. Ever – never mind captaining them.

    If he never played for England ever again I’d be a happy, happy man.

    Incidentally whenever England lose or get knocked out of any competition I take the next day off work and celebrate.

    Come on (Whoever they are playing)

    Keep Liverpool players away from England.

  10. To be fair Graham, Gerrard hasnt performed anywhere near his top level for England but to say he doesnt deserve the captaincy on this basis is not a valid argument. This is because not one other player has performed to his top level for England for a long time (including Rio Ferdinand), hence Gerrard being voted BY THE FANS Englands best player of 2007. Also, Jenas has only recently come into form after a very poor start to the season and dont even get me started on Gareth Barry. If England want to win world cups then Barry cannot be selected in the centre of midfield.

  11. Forgot to mention above, 12 goals in 63 games for England is almost the same ratio (1 in 5) that he gets for Liverpool – Not bad at International level for a midfielder!

    I think you’ve clearly got a problem with us lauding a player who not only plays with the right attitude but also has unquestionable ability at the highest level.

    Summary – an extremely poorly constructed article, go back to the drawing board and write something sensible

  12. Sort of agree with the article – well up until the Rio for captain bit.

    I have always felt that England’s problem is not a lack of passion but a lack of teamwork. Gerrard has plenty of passion but, like Rooney and Joe Cole and many more, ends up trying to win the game on his own and forgets there are other players on the pitch. Croatia beat us because of their superior teamwork not individual skills. This is, of course, stating the bleeding obvious but we never see the England team playing as a team.

    Having said all that I can’t think of anyone better for captain so perhaps Gerrard is as good as any…

  13. If Rio ends up as captain, il eat all the hats in London

  14. Does Gerrard justify the hype?

    Nope…

    Is Rio the better choice for captain? Man to man, Rio, Gerrard and Terry deserve the captaincy equally.

    On the other hand, Rio does a far better job of leading his backline than Gerrard does of leading the midfield around him. Gerrard by his playing style is more action than leader, Rio is more balanced.

    Off the pitch, Gerrard shades it and that’s something Rio has to work on, but on the pitch Rio is a better captain.

    Of course, I’m just a biased fan…

  15. Gerrard was shocking against Croatia as captain. A match where we needed a leader, needed a player to act, say, as Gerrard does for Liverpool, and it didn’t arrive. The whole team was awful that night, but Gerrard’s actions as leader were particularly disappointing, I was always a strong advocate for Gerrard as captain when Beckham was dropped, but when we needed a leader most and he had that opportunity, he failed and either bottled it or just didn’t care enough.

    I’m not sure who I’d have as captain, possibly Hargreaves if he could prove his long term fitness, which he continually doesn’t, just for the fact his head never drops and his effort shown is second to none.

  16. omg gerrad is soooooooooo da best n ferdinand is shite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Graham, I think you’re forgetting a key detail here. Capello clearly stated that naming Gerrard captain for the Switzerland friendly was by no means a definitive choice for England’s future, and that up to the first South Africa 2010 qualifying match the Three Lions would cycle through a variety of possible candidates for the captain’s armband.

    So to rebound on what Ahmed said, it will be up to Capello to make his final decision in a few months’ time, after he sees who leads better where (based on the friendly matches England has programmed). Incidentally, Ferdinand might be indeed the better defense/team leader than Gerrard would be in midfield. We’ll just have to wait and see. Frankly in my opinion, the captaincy of John Terry isn’t completely down the drain either..

    Just my 2 cents…

  18. Thank heavens we have Marco Pantanella to tell us that it’s up to Capello to decide who leads better … I thought we might be in for an Ebsfleet style vote :)

  19. Cynic,

    Don’t think I’d win!;)

  20. Its become fashionable to blame Gerrard for England’s collective failings, its a common theme. The same happened to Alan Shearer before Euro 96, to Beckham, Seaman, Lampard, Heskey & Owen. Big players get criticised for being individuals, yet when the time comes for an inquest, is it the team that gets the blame? or is it individuals?

    And guess what, it happened to Owen Hargreaves as well….who is suddenly England captain material. I have always been a fan of his, he’s a quality player, but the way people changed their tune after he had one and a half good games at the World Cup is really annoying. People often lament Gerrard’s contribution against Portugal, which i feel is vastly unfair. whilst he wasnt fantastic, he was involved in pretty much all of England’s best attacking moves and defensively did an awful lot to keep Ronaldo nullified.

    Gerrard, not Rooney, not Ferdinand, not Terry, not Joe Cole, picked up England player of the year recently, voted for by the fans. not bad for someone who “consistently fails to deliver” eh?

  21. I like the bit about Gerrard “running around like a headless chicken” :-)

    I know I’m now starting unnecessary shit, but if what [Matt Field, comment#11] says about Gerrard’s stats should be taken into context, doesn’t that mean (because we all know he plays shit for England) that he must be playing shit for his club as well? If so, it means that the scousers don’t know any better? I suppose it makes sense then for them not to want their players to play for England…it will show them up.

  22. and Gerrard is….well, Capello isn’t ALWAYS right :P

  23. Karl – statistically, Liverpool win more games without Gerrard in the side than in it (Opta did a study last year). But shh, don’t shout it too loud if you want to avoid a crucifixion.

  24. or could it be that the games Gerrard didn’t feature in were against lesser opposition, and therfore easier to win?? or could it be the fact that Gerrard played about 50 games last season, therefore making it fairly likely that he is going to lose a few?

    using Opta’s twisted logic, would you recommend Mr Benitez told Gerrard to go sub, and went for Lucas Leiva to play instead? or would that just provoke a spate of “Benitez’s crazy rotation policy” posts???

  25. Also, just noticed that “midfield players need to have the subtlety and flair to open up the best defences in the world”

    Well that rules out Gareth Barry, Owen Hargreaves & Jermaine Jenas for a start doesn’t it.

  26. Whilst I’m not sure whether or not Gerrard should be captain for England, I can’t help but agree with this article.

    How many times have we seen an England match denigrate into Gerrard and Lampard just taking improbable pot shots from outside the box?

    Lampard presumably does it because he’s a selfish asshole, but Gerrard seems to care too much about the big games and tries to turn it around by himself. He needs to be a smarter and better team player.

  27. Wow Cynic your name is well-chosen :roll: but maybe you’d like to read what I wrote a little closer:

    it will be up to Capello to make his final decision in a few months’ time

    Ergo, you can discuss all you want about whether Gerrard deserves the captaincy NOW, it will be a totally different matter in September, after England has played a few games, gone through a few captains, and the first REAL assessments can be made.

  28. gerrard has made over 400 appearences for Liverpool and has scored well over 80 goals. Shows how much you know about Gerrard

  29. sorry you said 52 goals which is even worse

  30. Nick
    “Gerrard was shocking against Croatia as captain. A match where we needed a leader, needed a player to act, say, as Gerrard does for Liverpool, and it didn’t arrive.”

    I take it you didnt listen to Ron Cs arguement he is right England need to pull together as a team not rely on the passion of Gerrard.

    Just because Gerrard is the best english player around doesnt mean he deserves all the blame all of englands players think they are captain. The title captain doesnt mean anything for a player of england. If Gerrard could play well in that team he’d easily be the best player since maradonna. (fact is he cant)

  31. Personally, England needs an overhaul in formation. The decision Capello has is which star to build the formation around. You can not employ both Lampard and Gerrard together in the midfield. Rather than play the best players, he needs to deliver the most intelligent lineup. Gerrard has underachieved for country, but if he isn’t in a formation that suits him, one would have to expect such results. Hargreaves was placed in a Hardgreaves role in the Cup, and he excelled. Let’s find Stevie G his spot, and create a formation that allows him to be the best he can be, which is World Class.

  32. Excellent article. I completely agree…Gerrard hasn’t done anything to warrant the England captaincy. I’ve been arguing for the last 4 years that Gerrard is a poor captain for Club and Country, most recently in the following article:

    http://www.liverpool-kop.com/2008/01/when-are-people-going-to-wake-up-and.html

    Liverpool and England fans need to wake up – Gerrard does not command respect from other England players. The captaincy should stay with John Terry.

  33. Are you crazy? Gerrard not a good leader? U have gone nuts, Gerrard always shows brilliance and hardcore determination when needed, It was high time john terry was replaced as captain. Gerrard is the best player england could ever have. Hes a wonderful player and a great captain… Unlike Rio Ferdinand.

  34. dont listen to him

  35. captain should be john terry or Rio Ferdinand also we can add in that list lampard and neville

  36. I agree completely with the article and am shocked at how many people are the facts that are presented and just regurgitate the stuff they get from the Sun and Andy Gray. Gerrards been rubbish for England, I can’t remember a single good performance from him against a big team for England.

    Everyone complains at how bad weve been for the last 3 years, well guess whos more appearances than anyone in this time. Its arguable whether hes earned himself the right to start, let alone be captain.

  37. Neil:

    “or could it be that the games Gerrard didn’t feature in were against lesser opposition, and therfore easier to win?? or could it be the fact that Gerrard played about 50 games last season, therefore making it fairly likely that he is going to lose a few?”

    Your last point is totally illogical. I didn’t condemn Gerrard for losing matches, everyone does. But even if Gerrard had only played 10 games, had Liverpool lost 7 out of those 10 and won a high percentage without him, it would have been somewhat revelatory. As it is, your own argument (he has played a lot of games) serves only to reinforce the statistic, since the sample becomes larger and therefore more stable.

    I have nothing in particular against Gerrard and have not thrown my opinion into this fiery hat purely because it’s an almost entirely irrational debate. However, Gerrard’s heart and ability don’t necessarily conjugate to success, and Liverpool fans would do well to bear that in mind.

    I seem to remember an article written by a Liverpool fan about the Gerrard myth, wish I could find it.

  38. I forgot to say, your first point was reasonable, but Gerrard has not missed that many games, so the statistics still have something to say (it’s not like he’s never played against the bottom 5).

  39. If anyone can remember who wrote the article, I advise you to find it and post it. It was an irate Liverpool fan who argued that Gerrard’s ideal position was on the right and that Benítez had been undermined by Gerrard’s cult status.

  40. England’s problem in recent years has been lack of leadership, on and off the pitch. Capello may fix the latter but if he’s wise he’ll look at someone completely different as captain.

    Gerrard’s problem is he has a tendency to drop the head when things are going badly. Yes, he often applies himself to the task of digging Liverpool out, but this is totally different to inspiring and leading others. For me he’s not a good enough communicator on the pitch.

    I’d look for leadership qualities in one of the younger players coming through and groom them for the job. How about Micah Richards?

    In the meantime leave it with Terry or, when he’s fit, Gary Neville.

  41. The writers wrong Gerrard’s an excellent player n his passion just adds to his talents, this coming from a BIG man utd fan. Rio could also become captain, he really shouts at players doin d wrong thing. BUTTT… hahaha there’s only ONE captain for me… Wayne WonderBoy aka “the ONLY england player who’ll almost DEFINATLY play” Rooney. That’s in 2010, n obviously leading up to it he’s got it all, passion, commitment, unselfishness

  42. So permanent captain is Wayne Rooney it’ll be a brave call, obviously the media’ll go crazy but it’s the right decision

  43. I remember that article Hugo, but can’t seem to find it.
    Someone had a link to it on Soccerlens (I thought it was in the Rio Ferdinand article???)

  44. Hugo, I remember the article you were talking about: I beleive it was from a blog titled “Kop” something.

    Gerrard has never once turned in an inspirational performance as England skipper, and the squad always looks more flat with him in charge. Terry, on the other hand, leads by brutal example and emotion, which is exactly what you want in a skipper. For me, the choice is obvious.

  45. I hate Terry – for obvious reasons – but I feel he makes a good captain.
    Still think Rio will also make a good choice.

  46. Steven Gerrard man of the match at wembley. Wait is he the only english player to get man of the match at the new wembley?

  47. Liverpool fan,

    I have eaten humble pie on my blog. He was man of the match. Just when I needed him to have a stinker! :)

  48. The biggest retard in football decided to make Terry captain, lets hope Capello doesn’t make the same mistake.

    Rio, Rio? He kicks footballs at his own fans when the ref blowds the whistle for a foul!

    Gerrard is the only choice, if he is made perminent captain he would deliver fir England what he delivers for Liverpool. The captain of England should be a goal scorer, someone who can turn games around, Gerrard is the only one.

    For Vice Captain, I would say Owen or J. Cole.

  49. Ferdinand, for me. He’s way better than Terry(who would not be in his national squad if he was from Italy or Spain or Germany or Brazil or any other top country).

    By the way, is it me or does Gerrard always play well for Liverpool and sucks when he plays for England?

  50. I have every confidence that a Man United fan wrote this.
    Rio Ferdinand a better captain than Gerrard! Jamie Carragher would make a better captain than Rio Ferdinand!
    What has Rio done to deserve to captain the national sqaud?
    In the past 3 years both their clubs have won the Champions League, but in 05 Steven Gerrard (and i hate saying this as a liverpool fan) carried Liverpool by himself and was the inspiration behind the win in Istanbul not to mention the Olympiakos goal or the one against West Ham in the FA cup.
    Not what did Rio do for Utd?
    Well he didn’t captain all the games and the only things he did in the final were fuck up in defense to allow Chelsea to eqaulise and then moan at the referee to help get Drogba sent off, what he crtisized Ronaldo for in the World Cup Game.
    Speaking of that game, how can you crtisize Gerrard for missing a penalty – least he had the balls to step up and take it, and you can’t use the excuse that Rio is a defender because Carragher had the courage to do it (even if he missed) and Hargreaves was playing as a right back for England in the match and scored his.

  51. Gerrard is what England need.

    Make him captain and you will see better results.

  52. Gerrard is the best player in england if he is made captain england will win a world cup

  53. An old article but now time to refresh it (considering J.Ts womanising). True, Gerrard is no saint & has punched someone in a bar, but it was put down to self defence (I bet most of us have met at least one ‘clicky’ drunk out on the town in the past anyway).
    Considering the other comments prior, Gerrard may have not always produced his Liverpool form for England, but every England player is guilty of that on occasion! J.T has made mistakes & there have been stinky England performances with him as captain too.
    Our expectations of talent forget that everyone is fallible & if anyone thinks Gerrard doesn’t play for England with pride needs their head examined! Fabio give him the captains arm band, tell him it’s his to lose, & then watch him light a fire under the team!

    • Gordo, fair point EXCEPT Gerrard’s posse outnumbered the guy and assaulted him instead of acting in ‘self defence’.

  54. Didnt Rio just get a four match ban for hitting another player or something like that? gerrard has done something bad in the past put if i remember rightly he was cleared of the charges, which means he was inoccent.
    Gerrard should have been captain from the start!!

    p.s nice comment Gordo

  55. i think gerrard is not the problem. the problem is hesky is to old cant make use of good chances