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.