Steven Gerrard this week retired from international football, and in doing so stepped down from the role as England captain after 114 caps. As the country debates who should be the next captain, and whether who is captain is really important – did Gerrard do a good job? And is the national team captain really that important?
Despite playing for England some 114 times, and captaining the side in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and 2012 European Championships – with a winning percentage of 62% when he has played – the outcome has never been success. For all those saying he has been a brilliant captain and will be missed in the England side – on what evidence is this based?
Since the relative success of 1990, England have never ventured past the semi-finals of a major tournament (once, in 1996), and since Gerrard made his debut for England in 2000, the national side have never progressed past the Quarter Final stage, and even failed to qualify for the Euro’s in 2008. This despite England fielding the Golden Generation of Gerrard, Owen, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and to an extent, Wayne Rooney.
Although Gerrard does have, on paper, a fantastic record for England, especially when involved as captain, the problem remains that he has never taken this forward in to a major competition where it matters. Every goal or 10/10 performance against the likes of Luxemburg and Andorra, counts for nothing in a tournament against a Brazil, or an Italy, or a Germany.
Through his retirement, Gerrard may have solved more problems than he has posed. As the end of the Golden Generation approaches with the likes of the two Coles, Owen, Terry and Ferdinand no longer representing the national team, there has been a push from the general public for youth to be given a chance, and for a team to be able to develop and play to a certain style. For Hodgson, replacing Gerrard with someone many years younger would have created media furore. By taking the decision away from Hodgson, he has arguably done him a favour – especially considering whether Gerrard would still be up to the task in 2-4 years. Now the England manager is well and truly allowed to develop his own team to play the way desired by those who reside at St Georges Park.