Steven Gerrard is largely being held to blame for England's recent World Cup exit, but is it time to bring down the curtain on his international career?
England’s World Cup exit is disappointing enough, yet the fashion of defeat is even more harrowing. Luis Suarez’s tremendous solo performance left the Three Lions watching in despair, with the critical goal occurring with just moments of the match remaining.
However, perhaps the biggest criticism of England’s performance against the Uruguayans came with the performance of captain Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool-man’s regret was clear to see upon the final whistle, as he found himself being consoled, ironically, by the man who had shattered his dreams just seconds beforehand.
The 34-year-old, who has now accumulated 113 caps for his country, struggled throughout while his club team-mate revelled. It was a man-of-the-match performance from the half-fit Reds striker, who punished his club captain’s misfortune with little sign of remorse.
This latest World Cup catastrophe has almost definitely signalled the end of Gerrard’s international career - a period in which he has experienced seven major tournaments, and like the rest of the current generation of England players, won nothing.
He has suffered World Cup heartbreak on two previous occasions, in 2006 and 2010, but claimed going out in the group stage would be his biggest disappointment. With Costa Rica’s victory over the Italians on Friday, the Three Lions were condemned to elimination. Gerrard’s biggest fear has now been realised.
It's is fair to say he had a forgettable match in Sao Paulo, in a display so poor that Spanish newspaper AS chose against giving him a performance rating out of 10. He was easily bypassed by Edinson Cavani during the build-up to Uruguay’s opener and he then flicked on a long ball from the opposition goalkeeper for Suarez’s second.
He could be seen most often in his own half, playing a wonderfully accurate back pass to one of four England defenders. He looked stretched throughout the opening two games, and more often that not, his negative-approach only served to halt the Three Lions energetic approach play.
His defensive midfield role for his country has arisen only due to a lack of a better option. Michael Carrick’s suitability to the role is open for debate, whilst Jack Wilshere is yet to prove that he is capable of achieving his suggested potential.
A regretful few months for the Liverpool and England captain could be enough to encourage his retirement from the international stage. At 34-years of age he has been a fantastic servant for his country and it would be a shame to see his legacy tarnished by any further mishaps.