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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Maybe Walcott should now have a go at Gerrard

When Steven Gerrard decided it right to include in his ghost-written book that Theo Walcott should not have been on the plane that headed to Germany for last years World Cup the Liverpool captain went down in my estimation.

Who was he to publicly belittle his teammate? To me Gerrard sold out by making these private doubts public in what looked to be a cynical way to generate publicity for his book. To do it at the expense of one of England's brightest prospects and a junior teammate made it for me even more inexcusable.

Of course Walcott won't come out now and publicly criticise Gerrard for poor play and captaining his country to two successive crucial qualifying defeats: I would hope and expect he has more respect for a fellow professional than that.

But if Gerrard is prepared to publicly criticise players he should be receptive to criticism himself. Last weekend, the experienced English football journalist, David Lacey, summed up my opinion of Gerrard in a superbly concise sentence: "An inspirational footballer certainly but he gives the ball away too often."

Last night against Croatia he was England captain. Yet he set a poor example and tone for the team by simply giving the ball away too much. He kept going for long-range passing that was not making its target rather than shorter-range passing that retained possession. And although he ran a great distance in the match it was to nowhere: he did not get in range to have a good shot at goal nor supply a killer pass.

Croatia's midfield showed Gerrard how it should be done: when in possession make it your priority to keep possession. Gerrard needs to change his mindset so that he keeps things simple on the pitch. Play to keep possession. Don't keep overlooking the simple short-range pass when faced with the option of a hopeful long pass. Don't play at 100 mph all over the pitch when you can be more effective playing at a more controlled pace in sync with your teammates.

The next time Gerrard is publicly critical of someone who wears an England shirt he should concentrate first on what he is providing for the national team. For some time his play has not been up to international standard. He has the ability to change and improve his contribution but he - like his fellow teammates - now need to prove that they have learned the lessons of this failed qualifying campaign. They have three years to prove this - its a long road to rehabilitation.

My preference to now lead England is Fabio Capello. He is a proven disciplinarian that I feel Gerrard and Co now need after the starry-eyed approach of Eriksson and McClaren. He knows how to set up a team to play as team. And he is a proven and consistent winner.


Anonymous scouse red said...

some fair comments lad but with regard to walcott Gerrard was far from unique in thinking that the lad was chosen ahead of more obvious candidates and as for Croatias midfield showing stevie the way, then surely that goes for Lampard and Barry also?

11/22/2007 8:23 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments made by Gerrard regarding Theo Walcott were correct at the time of the book being published in 2006. He was merely making reference the fact that an untried 18 year old who had played 30 minutes of football at the top level (Championship football with Southampton doesn't count) should not be going to a world cup, to sit on the bench, in preference to players who had been performing consistenly well for their clubs at the top level (jermane defoe, darren bent as Gerrard also makes reference to) so my guess is that you are an arsenal fan who has spat their dummy out about your 1 english player..... The fact is england were not good enough over the course of the group stages and for gods sake who gives a sh*t about England anyway, they only provide the fans of unsuccessful clubs with the possibility of winning something.

11/22/2007 8:30 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It goes for the whole of the England mid field. Not once did a midfielder drop deep and demand the ball from the defence and then play a short pass and move 3 to 4 yards to collect it again. When we got back to 2 each we should have retained posession and taken the pace out of the game. However we did'nt have the brains and kept playing long balls up to Crouch. Did you notice that Croatia were happy to let him win the ball and then just swept up the resulting flick. This gave them the chance to come at us again. We should have kept the ball, I believe it was your Shankly who said that : If you keep the ball the others cant score.

11/22/2007 8:33 pm

Blogger Seye said...

Very true, my friend. Gerrard talks a good game but rarely produces when it counts. He lacks the abilty to control a game because his passing game is very weak. He has never eradicated the ploy to ping long passes at every opportunity. Its something that has plagued him all through his career. If he wants to be one of the best midfielders in the world he has to learn the idea of ball retention, not every pass has to be incisive, he must realise he is not constantly playing against a egg timer. It would be a good education for him to watch players like Fabregas, who rarely gives away a pass and are more effective in controlling the flow of the game. Sure Gerrards goes on marauding runs and scores some great goals, but his game is based too much at playing at 100mph, too often he pings in passes which are very difficult to control or to return the pass. He needs to have more dicipline in his game, sometimes subtly is a better virtue than his haphazard nature.

11/22/2007 8:40 pm

Blogger Seye said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11/22/2007 8:40 pm

Blogger Darren said...

What on earth are people like Cole, Rooney and Gerrard writing about? They have nothing to write about. Their books are self indulgent and show exactly how much these people are out of touch. England's problem is people like these 3, they are ahead of themselves with no humility whatsoever. That's why England are shirkers and why Wenger is rarely able to find people of suitable character. Walcott is an exception and thanks to Wenger England may have someone will an ounce of technique as opposed the bull dozing hoofers we currently have. England's problem is not the coach of the country (although the choice is limited and poor in selection of English nationality) the problem is our coaches and managers see the game, the do not value technique not nearly highly enough for example if you are considered small you have no chance in the game. We must loose our British Bulldog attitude and embrace class, understand how to develop technique.

11/22/2007 8:52 pm

Blogger SKG said...

it is unfair to single out gerrard. none of the england players played well.

as regards walcott, gerrard was spot on in saying that he should not have gone to the world cup.

11/22/2007 8:54 pm

Blogger Skipper said...

I agree with SKG.
In my view it is absurd to single out Gerrard. Why are we talking about Theo?

For me, last night result and performance epitomised everything that is wrong with the England set up. There are too many “superstars” from “the golden generation” and the manger didn't have a clue about tactics, strategy, motivation I could go on.

11/22/2007 9:26 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theo Walcott was a fanatical liverpool fan by his own admission. Stevie meant that Walcott did not have the experience to go to a world cup. In the same way Scott Carson was not ready to play against Croatia. Scott is a good keeper, his only big time experience came against Juventus in 2005. Like the failure of Carson last night, walcott did not have the experience

11/22/2007 9:29 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Walcott did not deserve to go to the WC.

That is not the point.

The point is that Gerrard despite his own lame performances over the last 2 years had the gall to criticize his young team mate to sell his crap book.

11/22/2007 9:38 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously some of you guys feel that a return to the days of Butch "the Crab" Wilkins is called for. Take it from the centre back, pass it sideways, take it back, pass it sideways, take it back, pass....need I go on. Gerrard is world class. Unfortunately the rest of the team last night are Conference class. Has anyone ever seen a worse England performance than Wayne Bridge's. Btw I hope none of ye has ever actually bought a footballers autobiog. You should only get them as presents.

11/22/2007 10:05 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe gerrard should have sworn at the dug out as walcott did whilst playing for the under 21s!

11/22/2007 10:19 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets make walcott new vice captain of england. i mean he's so much better than gerrard NOT!

11/22/2007 10:21 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets make walcott new vice captain of england. i mean he's so much better than gerrard NOT!

11/22/2007 10:21 pm

Anonymous Romford Pele said...

'Gerrard is world class' yaaaawwwn.

If he's so damn good when did he last win a match for england? Truly world class players turn it on on the highest stage when it matters most. None of Beckham, Lampard or Gerrard has done that.

Gerrard is a very good player but there are loads of very good players out there, lots of whem turn it on for their countries when it matters. Luka Modric for one. Gerrard like the whole premiership is way over-hyped.

11/22/2007 10:47 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerrard is not world class, although he has the potential to be.

He talks a good game but can't deliver one for his country.

He can't use his left foot, gives the ball away unnecessarily, and instead of working smart, and playing with intelligence, he works at 100 mph like a headless chicken.

Is Gerrard an experienced manager come talent spotter? Who is he to say that Walcott shouldn't have attended the world cup cos of lack of experience?

Brazil, Argentina and many other countries take talented teenagers to big tournaments to blood them for future years.

11/22/2007 11:19 pm

Anonymous RobM said...

I love all the liverpool fans lining up to defend gerrard by pointing out that they agree with him.

The point isn't whether or not he was _correct_ in his comments about Walcott being in the world cup squad.

The point as I see it is that Gerrard perhaps should not have said so in public. It's very crass to speak out like that against people who can't really defend themselves.

Regardless of whether you feel his comments were aimed at Walcott or at SGE, regardless of whether or not you personally agree with them, how can you honestly think it's suitable behaviour for someone who fancies himself as a leader.

Gerrard? World class? His comments show him to actually be "No Class".

11/22/2007 11:26 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gerald is a good player, slightly one dimensional, and certainly NOT world class. World class players can accuratley pass the ball, and have more than just one main attribute.

11/22/2007 11:26 pm

Anonymous RobM said...

anon, I don't blame Gerrard or the other English "World Class" players or even their fans for thinking that they are world class.

Thing is, English football is so bad and we've been spun so many lies about the game by sports journos that the moment an English player can actually dribble a ball in a straight line without falling over their own feet or drooling down themselves we get excited and mistake them for Pele.

We're a joke and the sooner people realise it the sooner things might get better.

English / British sport makes me laugh:

We bemoan the lack of British players doing well at Wimbledon, yet we don't fund grass roots tennis.

We bemoan the lack of good English cricketers yet the bottom level (don't want to keep typing "grass roots" all the time) is actually dying off in places because clubs can't afford to keep going.

Our rugby types fritter away the success after the last world cup and then act all surprised when it turns out that somehow their current squad for the next one isn't as good as they thought it would somehow magically be.

We bid to host the olympics then throw all kinds of fits about the lack of infrastructure, expense of building one, and the lack of proper grass roots interest in athletics and the like.

We think somehow, despite all evidence to the contrary. that our football team is world class, yet we frequently get embarrassed. We don't fund grass roots football properly because all the vast amounts of money in the game are concentrated at the top, and most of the few young English 'talents' to come through have very poor technical skills and vision but are able to bomb up and down the pitch for 90 mins without tiring.

If only there were winners medals for that.

If the country wants to be good at sports, it has to realise that generating good sportsmen and sportswomen doesn't happen overnight or for free.

11/22/2007 11:38 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Obviously some of you guys feel that a return to the days of Butch "the Crab" Wilkins is called for. Take it from the centre back, pass it sideways, take it back, pass it sideways, take it back, pass....need I go on.Quote"

yes when your 2-2 and qualified with 20 minutes to go . Youy retain the basll even if it means going sideways or backwards . Ask Hanson and the other Liverpool defenders of the past , they were masters of closing down a game with negativity.

11/22/2007 11:41 pm

Anonymous RobM said...

"Btw I hope none of ye has ever actually bought a footballers autobiog. You should only get them as presents."

I purchased the Perry Groves book.
I am not ashamed to admit it.

Books by players that are still actually playing are Just Plain Wrong (tm)

11/22/2007 11:47 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

I agree with the opinion that Walcott was too young, too inexperienced to have been on that plane to Germany in place of more experience Premiership players in Andrew Johnson, Darren Bent, and particularly he who went on the plane in place of Rooney and had to return, Jermaine Defoe. To mention that SGE did not even bring on Walcott esepcially when Owen injured himself simply underlines that Walcott was brought along for other reasons than being a thorough part of our WC plan.

I also agree it was something of a surprise for Gerrard to publicly make such a statement against an England colleague, as if to go against SGE, someone whom Gerrard has stated his trust of in his book. The choice, right or wrong, of those selected is down to the coach and no one within the camp have the right to call it into question publicly.

Ashley Cole, Gerrard and Rooney have written books, in reference to Darren (8:52PM), as well as Frank Lampard. Is Lampard self-indulgent too?

Romford pele, why is it the onus of winning an international hinges on one player? Why does Gerrard have to win a match on his own to be accepted or considered world class? They dont do it on their own, it is a team effort. Besides, the last time you refer to was against Andorra away when the team were so poor they were deriled at half time. And you yawn at Gerrard's ability? He is class, perhaps world class, but he has not shown it of recent.

Seye, Fabregas hardly gives the ball away, that is definitely true, though I have yet to actually see him perform under real pressure, such can be said of his mark. But in dictating a game, no. How many comments had been made, rightly or wrongly, that Gerrard single-handedly won the CL and the FA Cup for Liverpool? I dont agree but it had been said.

Anon (9:29PM) was correct, but Anon (9:38PM), your comment has nothing to it at all. To sell his book? Rubbish over the past two years?

Anon (11.19), and to others, Gerrard has been a senior member since 2000 and that makes him an experienced player to judge on whether a player is suitable or not to the squad. He is among Gary Neville, Beckham, Lampard, James and Ferdinand and perhaps Terry. His play for England and command overall has make him so, unquestionably. That said, I still do not agree with him making it public.

Let me make this clear. Gerrard or anyone else do not have the right to publicly criticise or question anyone within the England set up at any time for any reason. He is worthy of forming such an opinion but that does not allow him to go public with it. He has not been of late for England on the form we know him for, so saying he was rubbish for two years doesnt cut it. We KNOW what Gerrard has and can do, he has not lived up to that level for England in the few past games.

The point above is that because Gerrard was not his usual level on Wednesday and has been like this for England in the previous few games, he is therefore not worthy of criticising the decision of Walcott in the World Cup. It is said he gave the ball away, which he did. That goes on to evade the times when he made simple passes, other passes of length and speed which made their target. And there were other players who did the same, not mentioned. Gerrard has been picked out of all those on Wednesday. If you think that's right, you have a heavily weighted view when watching football.

Gerrard was not good enough on Wednesday, so were a number of others, if not the rest of the team bar Crouch. Gerrard should have clearly set example as vice-captain, something he relished ascending to from young, and that makes Wednesday all the more painful for him. But we should castigate him in almost the same manner Beckham was after WC1998 because he criticised Walcott's selection for the WC2006 campaign??

Had Walcott been with another club, perhaps even one aside from the top four, he wouldnt have been noticed, much less selected. There are hundreds of fast pace English strikers, youngsters, out there, unseen, forgotten because they are not with a top team. What was it that stopped SGE from noticing him at Southampton before Arsenal's interest?

I find the timing of such an article unwarranted. T, this should have been done at the time rather than now when reference to Gerrard coincides with feelings folowing the England failure of qualification. Considering that others were also not good enough on Wednesday, I sense this was an arrow aimed at Gerrard at his weakest and to drum up support for such an attack.

Anyone mentioning that I support Gerrard because he is a LFC player would be heavily wrong. Heavily. I criticise him as well as praise him, and any other player, equally, whoever they play for. He was not good enough for England, has not been for the past few games and he was not the only one on Wednesday. But he had a right about Walcott, just not publicly, and to come out now to slam him and to say he had no right because of his own recent performances was wrong. Remember Walcott had not touched a Premiership ball before he boarded that plane.

What Gerrard stated may have been because the majority opinion equalled his own. I cannot believe that it is argued an inexperienced young player should be selected for a high international tournament ahead of others of Premiership quality, Premiership scoring ability and England experience. Particularly against someone who has arguably been for years one of England's best central midfielders.


11/23/2007 12:37 am

Anonymous ArseBlog Lemming said...

Too True. Can't agree more.

11/23/2007 1:20 am

Anonymous Stu said...

Shut it Gerrard... you are past it, and you are a disgrace to english football. Call yourself a winner. Lets face it, there a re younger better players ready to take your place. I for one will not miss seeing you in an England shirt.

11/23/2007 7:44 am

Anonymous JG said...

Redsman, spot on in almost everything except:

Fab has performed under pressure and driven important victories - I'd say the 2005-6 Champions League wins over Juve at home and Real Madrid away. Granted, neither were the final, but both were extremely high pressure matches and he bossed both, as an 18 year old.

Also: I think the timing of the article is spot on. It's absurd for current players to write books at all (the only thing I agree with Barton on, his comments on that were priceless) but (as you've pointed out), Gerrard was completely wrong to make the comments he did at the time - even if he was voicing everyone else's opinion. It came out - as he must have known it would - as a sniping petty criticism of a 17-year-old lad who had said nothing to nobody and done nothing wrong. It was a mean and nasty thing to do and frankly Arsenal fans have not forgotten it. Have utmost respect for Gerrard until then and in all other ways, what he has done for Liverpool has been little short of astonishing, but he let himself down really badly there and frankly should swallow the criticism for his mistake. Now, following an abject defeat which he was part of (but, indeed, hardly solely responsible for) is the time for him to face the pain.

PS he was right, Theo shouldn't have gone to Germany. But so what?

11/23/2007 8:10 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets make Fabregas England captain! hahaha!

11/23/2007 9:14 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that article. You talk shit mate and who is this Theo Walcott?

11/23/2007 9:15 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Lets make Fabregas England captain! hahaha!<

if only we could, if only we could

11/23/2007 3:06 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

so andrew johnson, jermain defoe or darren bent should have gone to the world cup instead of walcott? please. i'll take the inexperienced player with the potential to be world class any day over three overrated journeymen who are quite frankly complete crap with nothing to offer.

11/23/2007 4:30 pm

Anonymous 5am said...

I agree on both counts and you let Stevie G off lightly considering it was him who gave the ball away for the Croat's third goal.....Also, as he huffed and puffed at 100mph, he was absolutely knackered for the last 20mins. Jamie Rednapp's analysis was right where he said Hargreaves should've come on at 2-2. Capello is a proven winner for the long haul and would give the discipline as you say. If McClaren was gonna play with one striker, Gerrard should've been the sweeper, with Beckham starting and Wright-Phillips switching wings and J Cole coming inside to be more creative in midfield, rather than just route one footie - when will they ever learn????

11/23/2007 8:35 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Anon (4.30PM), I disagree. To reiterate, a 17yr old inexperienced player just joined one of the top clubs in the top flight is chosen ahead of other professionals in Johnson, Defoe, Bent who had scored for their clubs at the time. Defoe was a Rooney replacement until Rooney got the go-ahead. The squad was hardly formed on merit and that has come back to haunt them today. Walcott was not even used, what ws the point if he was of such potential at the time?

JG, granted on the Fabregas point.

5AM, I have to look at the third goal build-up as I read Beckham was culprit. I recall off the top of my head right now that their no.24 moved along the left and then slipped the ball right of him to Petric, who gathered and slammed the shot. I quoted Hansen in my write-up where he said there was a big gap between the defence and midfield.

We had Lampard and Gerrard, no holding Barry and someone without question should have, from midfield, should have been hot on Petric from before he got the ball. We fell short of doing this in Moscow and we did it again.


11/24/2007 2:45 am

Anonymous Alex Butterfield said...

Footballers 'write' autobiographies during their career because that is the safest way to cash in on their celebrity.

Not many (even England international) players retain that profile after their career is over.

Is anyone going to buy a Sinton, Barmby or Dorigo bio?

Gerrard put incendiary comments in his book because he was told to, and maybe it was naive but it was also blown out of proportion.

For the record. He was right. Walcott shouldnt have gone, to take players who arent going to play just for the experience is arrogant - what did SGE think? He had too many spaces in his squad that he could take a Blue Peter competition winner along with him? When Owen was injured we needed a replacement and we didnt have one.


Gerrard is world class, he underperforms when his game is stifled by having no front runner, no pacey wingers or too much defensive responsibility. Just as Fabregas does.

Fabregas is a better passer, but he benefits from arsenal building a team around him. (That is why Gilberto misses out despite being better than Flamini.) You have to be very special for this to happen at international level though - which neither Gerrard or Fabregas will ever get. Riquelme had it - but it takes special conditions. Meanwhile, Gerrard is a better athlete, a better goalscorer (although Fabregas is coming of age this season) and a much, much better defensive player.

This LFC - AFC argument about who's better Gerrard or Fabregas. Any fan of either team would gladly have the other's player in theirs.

They both play well under pressure, Fabregas as recently as the LFC vs AFC game where he rescued Arsenal. Gerrard has done it for England more often than anyone since Beckham's hayday. To turn on him is fickle. It's a pity England can't have both Gerrard and Fabregas.

11/27/2007 3:06 am


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