Taking A Closer Look at Steven Gerrard’s Performance For England Against Ukraine

In the world of tweets and Facebook commentary, opinion and debate is not hard to come by in modern football. Throw a #hashtag on your thoughts, and they’re there for the world to see.

After England scraped through against Ukraine last night to claim top spot in Group D in Euro 2012, the twitterati was abuzz. The ‘ghost goal’ that John Terry cleared from inside the England goal had everybody talking – where is goal line technology in football? Do two wrongs make a right, considering the Ukrainian was offside in the first place? Why won’t Michel Platini listen to the people and change the game for the better?

Then there were the usual debates surrounding the England team itself – why, for instance, is James Milner continuing to start for the Three Lions when he has offered so little in the tournament so far (many want to know why he was even in the squad in the first place)? Is Wayne Rooney really the new Pele? (That isn’t even made up – people really do think he is England’s answer to the Brazilian master).

One topic, however, had everybody in agreement: Steven Gerrard is finally starting to show the form in an England shirt that has made him an Anfield favorite for over a decade. What stood out about Gerrard’s performance was the fact it wasn’t a typical guns blazing, box-to-box marauding display that we’ve come to expect from him (think Istanbul 2005, Millennium Stadium 2006).

Instead he was everything that Roy Hodgson has been looking for from his team: he kept it tight, made important tackles, and crucially, popped up with moments of individual brilliance when it mattered. It was his work that set up Rooney’s winning goal – aided, admittedly, by a couple of deflections and some atrocious goalkeeping, but he was there when it counted. That’s three assists from England’s five tournament goals so far after setting up Lescott against France, and Carroll against Sweden.

We all know about Gerrard’s skills, but what was especially pleasing was his commitment to getting the result for England. After he misplaced a pass in the first half, the cameras caught him loudly remonstrating himself, brow furrowed in anger. The pass itself was hardly a surprise – England have been fairly awful in possession so far – but it was Gerrard’s desire to improve for his side that really pleased. After the anger, he barely put a foot wrong.

Goal assists, tackles, grit and determination: if Gerrard keeps all of this up, England’s Italian job on Sunday may not be so difficult after all.

13 thoughts on “Taking A Closer Look at Steven Gerrard’s Performance For England Against Ukraine”

  1. Lampard’s withdrawal (even though he was in some form,) was a blessing in disguise. Gerrard, without Lampard to get in his way, has taken full control of the midfield, as he knows what his role is.

    1. I have to agree. Parker really is the ideal partner for him there.

      But honestly, the bigger story here HAS to be how terrible Hodgson’s player selection was. Welbeck was completely silent the entire game, why wasn’t Carroll playing? There were at least 4 crosses that Carroll would have easily scored on. Two that Rooney botched and another 2 that Rooney couldn’t reach. Why did Milner start? Why not start Walcott or Ox and sub Milner in when you take the lead? None of the subs made any sense.

      Rooney scoring and England winning almost negate the argument, but the side that started against Sweden was much better, and the absolute BEST XI that England have fielded so far was when Walcott was subbed in for Milner against Sweden.

  2. I have been impressed by Gerrard and I don’t often say that. Milner needs to go out of the team and Walcott come in. Welbeck or Carroll starting with Rooney is fine, Hodgson will have to decide whether he wants height or pace and choose the player accordingly.
    A Young played better last night which I was happy about because I wasn’t impressed with him against Sweden. Even Glen Johnson is not playing as bad as I though he would do, it would have been nice to see what the young kid Kyle Walker could have done on this stage but I’m sure he’ll get his chance soon
    They have got to where I thought they would so going any further is a bonus now

  3. I feel like Milner played decent against France, but really had no place being on the pitch in the other 2 games.
    Definately better options, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say he doesn’t deserve a spot on the team.

    Gerrard has had a good tournament so far. I hope he can pull out some heroics in the coming game(s), as it will probably be the last time we see him in an England jersey. WC2014 is a stretch at 34 yrs old.

  4. Hodgson will always choose to play wide men that are grafters. If they cannot defend they won’t play much in his system. That’s Hodgson’s way. So while Milner may not offer much going forward he can track back, move into the middle and narrow the field which is what Hodgson wants. With the midfield duo of Gerard and Parker expect to see Milner getting the nod over Walcott and key games.

  5. I disagree with those who say Milner needs to be got rid of. As his presence and Gerrard’s form are interlinked. Gerrard has found a lot of joy down the right in terms of offensive play because Milner is happy to sit and offer cover. Johnson also needs a bit of extra cover on the chance that he gets caught out on one of his forward runs, admittedly they have been infrequent under Hodgson because of the discipline he’s brought in, but he can still be found marauding forward.

    If you play Walcott his defensive game isn’t as good, granted it would be much more entertaining seeing an open attacking game, but that’s not what has got Hodgson and England this far. The more worrying notion is Ashley Young, who is a luxury player. One who can win a game with a wicked cross but his defensive game is very very suspect indeed. But I guess we can accept one luxury player if we’re keeping a work horse on the other flank.

  6. So people are lauding Gerrard’s performances because of his three assists(which came from crosses ?). And he is the deep playing CM?

    I fail to understand it. You guys need to watch real CMs in action because from i’ve seen Gerrard has been average. But since results are all that matter….

    1. It’s more than that if you’ve actually watched the games. Hodgson has them set up in a very poor shape as far as fluidity and quick passing. 10 yarders to Parker are the only option. So, Gerrard has played a ton of long ball diagonals to the forwards or wingers. These passes are only consistently pulled off by the elite midfielders of the world and Gerrard makes them look easy.

      1. I’ve seen Michael Carrick do them, Alex Song, Yaya Toure and pretty much every CM at all the top leagues . What are talking about? Is that what you think make a great midfielder?

        1. Gerrard has been the best player in the team with out a doubt…..his 60 yard passes taking control of midfield, tracking back alot…..it dont look as great as other CMs because of the way hodgson has set up the team in a defensive 442 if gerrard was CAM or sommthing more attacking you would see his shooting ability runs in the box precise through balls to forwards much more, you are saying he is average who has played better in the team? i think you are just a jelous man u fan! LFC YNWA!

  7. England folks should enjoy the recent victories and not complain about Rooney or Milner, etc. I think they will get past Italy but they must know what awaits down the road. GERMANY.

    And when that time comes they won’t be able to get help from USA.

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