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Friday, October 07, 2005

Can Gerrard and Lampard function well in a two man central midfield?

I pose the question because I am not convinced they can. Both are primarily attacking central midfielders. Both are playing for club coaches who prefer a three man central midfield with a specialist holding midfielder. And I can't recall- in recent memory- these two players consistently linking up well together in the England team.

If you look at all the best teams in domestic and international football, you will notice that every one of them has a primarily defensive midfield player. The core role of this player is to protect the back four by staying tight to them, and break up opposition play.

I believe that if England want to win the World Cup, they must find a specialist so-called 'holding midfield' player to fulfil this job. However, if Eriksson is to stick to a 4-4-2 and play both Lampard and Gerrard in the centre as anticipated, one of them is going to have to choose to be an auxillary 'holding' player. Which one is willing to do this? And is either sufficently practised to do this? I'm not sure either are.

Eriksson has said that his preferred system is a diamond midfield. Presumably, this would see Gerrard at the head of the diamond, Beckham on the right, Lampard on the left, and a specialist holding player at the back of the diamond. Yet, in this squad he has not picked my preferred candidate for this last job: Scott Parker. Why not? Does he think the unconvincing Hargreaves is better at this job? Or does he see Ledley King as suited to this position?

Anyway, Eriksson- as is often the case- poses more questions than answers. England must win both upcoming games to automatically qualify. Lampard and Gerrard look as if they will play together in a two man central midfield. Attacking wise it looks a good combination. But ball interception and ball retention wise, I have big doubts.

Austria is in disarray so I'd expect a comfortable England win irrespective of how well this combination works. The real test should come next week against an organised Poland team. This is when the Lampard and Gerrard combination will need to step up and control the game for a famous win. I hope they can do it.


Blogger BlindJak said...

I think that Sven has a tendency to pick the best eleven players and fit them into a side rather than picking the best team regardless of glamour or reputation. And Gerrrard/Lampard are an example of this.

Both players are hugely talented and both deserve to be in the starting 11.However, as a central midfield pairing they are very similar players who love to surge into the attacking third. If both do this at the same time this will only expose the defence to a swift counter attack. So one has to hold back, curb his natural instincts and play a game this is not the one he plays week in week out for his club.

How well would he play the ‘holding’ role when compared to someone like Parker or even Carrick? I for one would love to see Parker in that role as it is the game he normally plays and his inclusion would bring, in my option, better balance to the England side. But in a 4-4-2 (I don’t think we’ll see the 4-5-1 again for some time) that means dropping one of them. Or playing them out of position on the left.

But who do you drop and what do you do about the public outcry when one of the more talented players in the country hasn’t made the starting eleven?

10/07/2005 1:12 pm

Blogger Bruiser said...

Personally I think its 3-5-2 time, with Austria in such disarray and with a win required this has to be the way to go, this would sort out the issue of which centre halfs to play and obviously could include a holding midfield player, the only question could be could beckham play as a wing back, I dont think so, personally I would go with the following team, Rio-JT-Sol, JCole-Lampard-Parker-Gerrard-WrightPhillips, Crouch-Owen, This definitely looks like an exciting team going forwards, and as they say the best form of defence is attack!!, oh yeah Big John Terry as captain goes without saying the boys a legend!

10/07/2005 1:55 pm

Blogger T said...

Blindjak, I don't think Sven is strong enough to drop either Lampard or Gerrard in favour of getting a proper holding midfielder in the middle of a 4-4-2.

I really like Bruiser's suggetion. The strength of playing five in midfield is that you can get Parker, Lampard, and Gerrard in there. However, Sven won't do this because he will never drop Beckham, and he is not good enough defensively to play at right wing back.

Sven has tied himself to Beckham Gerrard and Lampard. By doing this he may be selecting the best individuals, but as Blindjak points out, this does not equate to selecting the best all-round team.

10/07/2005 3:24 pm

Blogger T said...

By the way, to fully answer Blindjak's question, I would slightly prefer Gerrard over Lampard because of his amazing energy and the fact that in the biggest match of his career he single-handedly won the champs league final for Liverpool.

10/07/2005 3:44 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

I would put Stevie G ahead of Frank along with a holding midfield player. I think if Scott stays injury free then he can fulfill that role.

10/07/2005 5:15 pm

Blogger SKG said...

i totally agree with bruiser's idea of playing the 3-5-2 and the personnel. however we'll never see this until sven goes and a manager comes in with the balls to change things. sven's got so much talent at his disposal its amazing to think we're struggling.

10/07/2005 5:23 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought StevieG said he's going to play the position of holding midfielder because he knows Lampard has more of a tendency to attack. I think if Steve has made up his mind to play holding, he'll do a great job of it.
Erikkson's definitely in a predicament having so many amazing players to choose from that he definitely would have a problem being pressured into choosing the all star players rather than the right team players.

10/07/2005 6:39 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

The 4-4-2 means either of the central midfielders will have to sweep back, and blindjak made the observation of that sweeping player playing an unnatural game. 4-5-1 means one striker in Owen for this match but when Rooney comes back, leaving either himself or Owen out leads to demonstrations, probably with myself at the forefront.

The 3-5-2 allows for the 'diamond' midfield. Excuse me here, but in 'diamond', I visualise a sweeping midfielder in front of the 3 defenders, a straight line of 3 midfielders, and then one behind the two strikers:

* * *


* * *


* *

With 4-4-2 playing Lampard and Gerrard, not a suitable option, which may be the key why that third has been lacklustre. 4-5-1 is out, the 3-5-2 has to be key, I find it is defensive and attack-minded in one. It was the formation Liverpool reverted to in the CL final (I've mentioned this before in one article so I apologise for repeating it again).

Applying 3-5-2, the potential is Parker positoned in front of the defence; Beckham, Lampard, and either J Cole or K Richardson; Gerrard behind the front two. I would love to have an English Dieter Hamann or Claude Makelele in that sweeping position and am not certain Parker is the choice but I feel there isn't anyone else. The newly-positioned Alan Smith??

Additionally, there is the 3-man defence. In central defence for tomorrow I felt initially that Ferdinand and Terry would be ideal. But Ferdinand has come under scrutiny more for country than club, while Campbell has only had 4 games for Arsenal after recovery and has looked comfortable. Sol is rumoured to get ahead of Rio tomorrow as a result.

OK, with Neville and Cole out the 3-man defence of a 3-5-2 could be Rio, Sol, and Terry, omitting the likes of Carragher, King, Warnock and Young. This can work. I don't think that Terry is hesitant of any position in defence, Rio can hold the right hand side and Campbell commanding in the middle.


10/07/2005 7:29 pm

Blogger T said...

Thanks anon (6:39pm) for this information- just seen these comments myself on teletext. Lampard said that he was confident that both players had the intelligence to rotate the holding position- we'll have to wait and see on that.

Redsman, I like your visual formation, but if the opposing teams had wingers it could get in trouble? Further, I hope Wayne Bridge comes back soon because it's quite embarrasing that we have no other orthodox cover for Ash.

Significantly, if Holland beat the Czech's tonight, England will gain automatic qualification as 'best second place team' if they do beat Austria. That will take the edge off the Poland game- which in a sense I don't want because I want the England team to prove itself.

10/08/2005 11:47 am


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