Stars and Gripes

Occasionally interesting insight (and gripes) about the USMNT

England Overview (Update) – Gerrard and Lampard Together, Again?

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For two years, Fabio Capello has gone to lengths in order to avoid the miscalculation that helped sink Steve McLaren–matching Lampard and Gerrard at the heart of the England midfield.  The two have yet to be paired together under the Capello regime, and until three weeks ago, it seemed unlikely they would be.  Yet the injury bug that has ended the dreams of so many in South Africa has hit England particularly hard in the center of the pitch. Capello has spent most of the last month grasping for options, no doubt deathly afraid that he may have to reprise the ineffective line-up that saw England crash out of Euro 2008 qualifying.

Yet just five days out from his squad’s opener against their former renegade colony, his options have worn thin.  Owen Hargreaves, really the only true holding midfielder of class in the pool, is home in Manchester, unable to fight off the tendonitis that has sidelined his career.  James Milner, for all his versatility, failed to convince against Mexico, at times looking supremely uncomfortable, and with good reason.  Scott Parker was left off the roster in favor of Michael Carrick, whose once-splendid form has been in a free fall since the Champions League Final a year ago.

With Barry (who is without question their first option, but really isn’t a natural holding mid) ruled out of England’s plans until the match-up with Algeria in two weeks time, Carrick was given one final chance to impress yesterday, but did nothing of the sort. He looked shaky throughout, with an ill-advised back pass to Robert Green nearly ending in disaster.

There is now a growing consensus in the English press that Capello will be forced to take the step he has so studiously avoided, and revert back to the Gerrard/Lampard axis in the middle, likely pushing Milner or Joe Cole out wide left.  Doing so would certainly change the dynamic of the England attack, and not for the better.  As noted yesterday, the Three Lions have found a system that works quite well, even if there were minor personnel issues waiting to be sorted out, principally up front.  Play would still flow from the left wing, as Gerrard would more likely to find him on that side of the pairing, with Lampard and Aaron Lennon to the right.

The real issue for England, however, is it’s vulnerability to counter-attacks.  I’ll do a larger post on this tonight or tomorrow, but a lack of a holding midfielder compounds the problems already present.  Will Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole be as likely to forage up the wings knowing that they lack cover?  Will Gerrard and Lampard fear being caught out of position to the point where they’re more hesitant to lead the attack?

Big, big questions remain for Fabio Capello.


Written by Pete Kavanaugh

June 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Hi Pete

    Apologies for the late response, this is now a couple of weeks old. However, it’s an interesting post, and it is nice to see this from an American’s point of view.

    Capello did make some errors picking the England side. Many fans over here (England, by the way!) were unhappy with his tactics, and the midfield was the main source of discontent.

    I’d argue that Barry is a defensive midfield player, mind. When Hargreaves is injured, Barry is the only tested option (especially as Carrick’s form continues to bomb).

    Lampard and Gerrard together has never worked, we’ve known for a decade, but Capello thought he’d solved the option by playing Gerrard wide left. Was never a great idea, but England had some joy during the qualifiers.

    Hopefully, it’ll never happen again. However, now is definitely the time to bring the next generation through.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, man.


    Mike McKenna

    June 29, 2010 at 8:07 pm

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