I know this may not go down well with many Liverpool supporters since the article points out many of Gerrards weaknesses as well as his strengths as a footballer.
I have often said that if Steven Gerrard was 18 today he would be trained as a wide forward and would become the next Christiano Ronaldo. Gerrard is one of the best natural strikers of the ball I have ever seen and is also a born athlete as well. Give him time and space in the final third and he can destroy defences. A man who relies on "instinct" and "explosiveness" over "intelligence, discipline and guile".
For me he is simply not a great "central midfielder" and whenever he has dominated games it is always as an "attacking midfielder" or as a wide forward with people like Mascherano and Alonso minding the fort behind him.
Anyhow it is a very interesting article no matter what you think of Steven Gerrard.
Original article can be found at http://www.espnstar.com/editorial/ne...n-for-Gerrard/
Wilson: What could have been for Gerrard
ESPNSTAR.com columnist Jonathan Wilson believes Steven Gerrard's England career promised much, but has ended up being a case of what could have been.
On Wednesday night, Steven Gerrard became the sixth Englishman to win 100 caps, joining Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Peter Shilton and David Beckham. It is, of course, a tremendous achievement, testimony to his prodigious dedication and determination, his physical fitness and his mental willingness to keep coming back despite the often fractious atmosphere that surrounds England matches. Yet his name fits uneasily in that list.
Wright was a consistent centre-half, spectacular neither as a defender nor a distributor, but a natural leader who seemed to embody the unflappable stolidity of the English ideal. As Barney Ronay put it, Wright was the dependable head prefect to the manager Walter Winterbottom's headmaster. Charlton and Moore were both World Cup winners. Shilton was perhaps the best, but if not certainly one of the best two, goalkeepers ever to play for England.
Even Beckham, for whom style so overwhelmed substance that, having initially hidden his defects, it ended up disguising his qualities as well, was for eight years a key part of the dominant English team. But Gerrard?
Gerrard inspired a memorable comeback in perhaps the greatest Champions League final there has ever been and almost single-handedly won a Cup final, but otherwise has fought desperately and increasingly vainly against the fading of Liverpool's light. He has never won a league title (although neither did Moore) and it's hard to think of him, from an England point of view, without a twinge of disappointment. It may not be his fault, but his incompatibility with Frank Lampard as a midfield pairing, and the refusal of manager after manager to accept that, each seeming to prefer a dysfunctional midfield to the furore dropping either would have caused, came to symbolise the failing of the laughably misnamed Golden Generation.
Gerrard seems as frustrated as everybody else. He marks his England career as "six or seven" out of ten. "In football, the hero and legend status is given out far too easily for my liking," he said. "As far as playing for England goes, there are only 11 real heroes over history. The rest haven't really delivered, for me."
When Gerrard made his debut, in a friendly against Ukraine in May 2000, he seemed the image of a positive future, part of a fine crop of young players just beginning to emerge. That summer, he came off the bench in the European Championship to help secure England's first competitive win over Germany in 34 years. The following year, his low drive put England ahead as they thrashed Germany 5-1 in Munich. It wouldn't be until his 22nd game - away in Sweden in March 2004 - that Gerrard experienced defeat in an England shirt.
But at the Euros and, more particularly in the 2-2 World Cup qualifying draw away to Austria that came soon after, it became obvious that Gerrard and Lampard together in midfield left the back four with little protection. Again and again we were told that they were both good players and that they would learn how to play together; again and again they showed they hadn't. It would be wrong to blame one or the other but tactical indiscipline began to undermine Gerrard at Liverpool as well.
Gerrard missed the second leg of the 2004-05 Champions League quarter-final against Juventus with a thigh injury. As Liverpool played out a goalless draw to win 2-1 on aggregate, with Xabi Alonso and Igor Biscan magnificently disciplined in central midfield, it was hard not to think how different it would have been had Gerrard been there. Instead of the careful, cautious sideways passes that frustrated Juventus, there would have - inevitably - been hopeful 50-yard balls, dashing surges and long-range strikes. Perhaps one or more would have come off, perhaps Liverpool would have won comfortably, but it would have been at the cost of the control Rafa Benitez so desired.
Even in the final, in which Gerrard gave an awesome performance, scoring the first goal in the comeback and leading the charge against prohibitive odds, he was only released to play like that by the addition of Didi Hamann and the half-time switch to 3-4-1-2. From then on Benitez preferred always to play Gerrard off a front man in a 4-2-3-1. Having been seen as a box-to-box midfielder who could score a few goals, he began to be seen as an energetic attacking midfielder who could make the odd tackle.
When he was good, he was still sensational. His performance in the 2006 FA Cup was one for the ages, as he scored two brilliant goals, one of them an improbable equaliser in the final seconds. He became in that game, as he had in Istanbul and as he had when scored a late screamer to beat Olympiakos at Anfield the previous year, a Roy of the Rovers figure, the ineffable hero who could be relied upon to pop up with the vital goal at the critical moment.
But in a sense that was always his problem. Last-minute screamers to salvage games are the equivalent of the steamboat gamblers in westerns who turn up a royal flush just when they need it. It requires some skill, of course, but it also requires a vast dollop of luck. It leads to great dramatic moments, it may even win occasional silverware, but it is no way to achieve sustained excellence.
As Scott Murray put it in Issue Zero of The Blizzard, "thanks to Roy Race, English children spent their formative years sat on their arses being taught a very strange lesson: it doesn't really matter what you do for 89 minutes, because a superhero will turn up eventually, welt the ball into the net, and you can all go home with your cups and medals. Such was the sermon preached from the Melchester pulpit. In the big games, Rovers were perfectly happy to wing it, knowing Racey would amble along to the rescue at some point. As a result, nobody would bother preparing for anything. More often than not, Melchester would yawn onto the pitch, and end up a goal or two down not long after kick off. A Race-inspired comeback was nearly always on the cards."
Perhaps the failures at Liverpool over the past few years are to blame; Gerrard has often been forced to try to win games single-handed. The cost, though, has been his development as a player.
He is not a midfielder who slots happily into a system but needs a system to be built around him. With England, that simply isn't possible. He doesn't hold his position but always goes chasing the ball; at the World up in South Africa he was supposed to operate on the left but again and again appeared in central areas.
Perhaps as age has begun to sap his pace he has begun to adapt to be able to play a deeper role, as he did in Stockholm - although even there it was notable that once the game turned Sweden's way he offered his back four little support. The sense persists that he is a player capable of great performances but his lack of tactical nous prevents him from being considered a truly great player. To adopt Shane Warne's line about Monty Panesar, Gerrard may have played 100 matches for England, but he has played the same match 100 times.