by Roy Dalley.
Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool, England and Mars midfielder, has rather a lot on his plate, don’t you think..?
Never mind all those lucrative commercial contracts he fulfils away from the football field, including flogging confectionary to the country’s youth, Gerrard will lead his club back into the Champions League next season.
That’s not all. He’s currently deciding whether or not to give his country one last chance to add some silverware to his collection, despite the fact he’ll be 36 by the time England compete for the 2016 European Championship. All being well…
It is a big decision.
So big, in fact, many are wondering whether he is the right man to make such a call, particularly when the England manager is, in fact, somebody else.
One man who has witnessed each of Gerrard’s 114 international appearances from pitchside is Henry Winter, while providing match reports for the Daily Telegraph.
After watching Gerrard struggle to reach the required standards at the World Cup, Winter sat down and estimated the number of decent performances he could recall.
Would you care to guess the total Winter arrived at..? Go on… !?
Thirty would be a modest total, wouldn’t you say..? That’s a very rough average of one good game in four in an England shirt, a level of inconsistency that would lead to a spell on the sub’s bench in almost every other team in the world.
In fact Winter suggested he has seen Gerrard play well in a sum total of eight international matches. Eight! And one of those was against the mighty Andorra. Well played Stevie…
If you think I’m having a pop at Gerrard here you’d probably be right.
Granted, one cannot blame him for continually turning up for his country whenever he gets the call. But equally one can’t help suspect he is now a round peg in a square hole… a once marauding Roy of the Rovers type footballer whose legs are no longer up to the task, resulting in a compromise job sitting in front of the back four.
Even in that more restricted yet highly specialised role he was a long way short of being properly match-fit for last month’s engagement in Brazil.
As skipper and one of the squad’s leading penalty takers, he should have been ready and able to run, turn and jump for anything up to two hours if necessary… and then have enough strength in legs, heart and mind to make the long walk from the halfway line and score from the spot in a shoot-out.
No such luck of course. Instead Gerrard barely rose six inches off the ground when he headed the ball into the path of Luis Saurez to score the goal that resulted in England’s defeat by Uruguay.
One crucial mistake, such as his slip against Chelsea that perhaps cost him his last chance of winning a Premier League title, could be deemed unfortunate. Two bad mistakes suggests carelessness.
Certainly he looked a little overweight to me, despite training and acclimatisation in Portugal and Miami before England’s arrival in Rio. The designer stubble under his chin couldn’t disguise his lack of conditioning.
A cynic might suggest he entered into the spirit of things a little too hungrily in his part-time role as a Mars bar salesman, on behalf of the Football Association.
Perhaps. One thing is clear: He has to quit something…