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| 'I would have played three central midfielders instead of the two of us': Frank Lampard reveals how he would have played alongside Steven Gerrard
ส โบ เบ็ ต It was football's equivalent of the Gordian knot, an intractable problem that should have had a simple solution - how to fit Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard into the same England team. They were, after all, two of football's finest attacking midfielders, and both versatile and intelligent enough to be able to adapt their games to fit into flexible midfield patterns.
Yet no-one managed to find the right formula for success, and it became an obsession that turned into a national joke as a succession of managers failed to harness their potential on the international stage. Kevin Keegan, Sven Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson - not one of them found a way to bring out the best of these two outstanding footballers, who could have been for England what Iniesta and Xavi were for Spain - but ended up more like Laurel and Hardy, so mismatched did they appear.
Yet Jose Mourinho wanted to make it work when he tried to sign Gerrard in 2004 and again in 2005, but the deal never happened and we are left to wonder 'What if?' Although both of them won over 100 caps for England and scored plenty of goals, we rarely saw the Lampard of Chelsea or the Gerrard of Liverpool performing to the highest level for England.
But Lampard, who starts his career in management with Derby County this summer, has now revealed that a simple tactical tweak would have made all the difference to the two of them being able to show their true potential on the international stage. And it would have been as straightforward as Alexander the Great taking a mighty sword to cut through the aforementioned Gordian Knot. The insertion of a holding midfielder behind them could have changed everything. ส โบ เบ็ ต
'I would have played three central midfield players instead of the two of us,' he said. 'I would have played someone like Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick or even Paul Scholes in the earlier days. England generally had only one centre-forward who was a shoo-in during my time, from Michael Owen to Wayne Rooney, and we'd pair them with Peter Crouch or Emile Heskey.'
Sacrificing a support striker for a holding midfielder would not only have allowed Lampard and Gerrard to do what they did best, by bursting forward to score, but also given the team greater numbers in midfield, where they were routinely overrun. 'It would have been easy thing to do. You could also ask your wide players to come inside and then you'd have more numbers in midfield. It would have been how we all wanted to play.'
Lampard says England never had a chance of winning a trophy while they were outnumbered in central midfield. 'There were two of us, against sometimes five top class midfielders from Spain and so on. We never had a chance, really, and it was remarkable that we got as far as we did.' Indeed it is seen as routine now to play one focal point in attack and have more than two central midfielders, but it did not fit with the rigid 4-4-2 thinking at the time. ส โบ เบ็ ต