England’s 2-1 victory over Brazil in their midweek international friendly at Wembley was another demonstration of how important veteran midfielders Steven Gerrard of Liverpool and Frank Lampard of Chelsea are to their national team.
The England and Liverpool captain has earned 101 caps for his country, whilst his Chelsea counterpart has 94 but at 32 and 34 years of age, respectively, should they travel to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014?
England have youngsters coming through like Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley along with a talent pool that includes Jonjo Shelvey, Jack Rodwell, and Jordan Henderson.
I’m sure the youngsters (or at least some of them) will be on the flight to Brazil next summer but I think there’s a very strong case for England boss Roy Hodgson taking the ‘old guard’ with him as well.
You only have to look at what Italy achieved in last summer’s European Championships to see the value experienced internationals bring to the table. The likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Antonio Di Natale and Andrea Pirlo were the Italian’s leaders and they drove the team to the Final.
Young players are keen and energetic – they’re eager to impress in for their country and they add verve and dynamism to the team. But, as Sir Alex Ferguson knows better than anyone at Manchester United, keeping you’re veterans around is beneficial to the whole team.
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have won 3 Premier League titles, 6 FA Cups, and 2 Champion’s League titles between them and if Wednesday evening’s game was anything to go by, they are still the world-class professionals with the hunger and desire to win.
Frank Lampard scored the winner and Steven Gerrard bossed the field – even young Jack Wilshere spoke after the game to reveal that Gerrard was giving him constant verbal direction throughout the whole match.
That kind of leadership is what makes teams succeed and, even though Hodgson may have something of a selection headache if he takes both his midfield maestros they absolutely have to be in the squad – both of them.
They have such a wealth of experience and, to me, Chelsea’s refusal to offer Lampard a new contract is ridiculous – it just shows you how that club operates with a policy of ‘everyone is disposable’.
He may be 34 now and he’ll be days away from being 36 by the World Cup, he is worth his weight in gold to his country. The Blues veteran spoke following the game in midweek.
"I won't retire from England before that, put it that way. I also believe Roy Hodgson is the type of manager who if you are playing well enough, whatever, your age, wherever you are, will pick you," he said.
Let’s hope on both counts he’s right. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, as long as they’re fit, they must be in the squad.
image: © geetarchurchy