Capello helps massage giant egos
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
CAPE TOWN -- Perched majestically here on the stunningly beautiful southern tip of Africa is Green Point Stadium, a 63,691-seat architectural masterpiece that serves as a bragging point for the 2010 World Cup.
But even this sparkling new monument to soccer might not be big enough to contain the egos of stud midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard when their high-powered English side takes on the Algerians in Cape Town Friday.
The overlap between these two extremely skilled players is understandable. Both are captains, Gerrard at Liverpool, Lampard with Chelsea. Both are respected leaders. And both are offensively-gifted midfielders who like to push ahead toward opposing goal whenever the opportunity presents itself.
But there is a belief in England that they are, in fact, too close to being the same player with the same “I can do it all” mindset, so much so that they often step on each others toes when on the pitch at the same time for Jolly Ol’ England.
Manager Fabio Capello made a clear statement that he believes both can co-exist when he awarded Gerrard the captain’s armband and made Lampard vice-captain after then-captain Rio Ferdinand was lost to the tournament with a knee injury.
Capello also hopes that the return of midfielder Gareth Barry from an ankle injury will free up both Lampard and Gerrard to take more offensive chances against Algeria.
However they line up, Gerrard hasn’t been the problem. Lampard has.
Gerrard, in fact, ignited England’s South Africa 2010 experience by scoring in the opening minutes of its 1-1 tie with the U.S. Saturday. It was his third career World Cup goal.
Conversely, Lampard was barely visible that night in Rustenberg and is still searching to score for the first time in a World Cup game. He was simply brutal in Germany four years ago, a nightmare he readily admits he’d like to forget.
“That last World Cup wasn’t great for me personally, and wasn’t fantastic for the team,” Lampard said. “We got knocked out in the quarter-finals yet again. You don’t get that many World Cups in your career and this could possibly be my last -- in fact, probably my last.
“I want to look back and say I was part of a team that was successful and have been personally successful as well.”
In order to achieve that success for England, Lampard must pick up his game. He, Gerrard and Wayne Rooney are England’s best players. In order for them to go deep into this tournament, they’ll have to perform like it.
Too many times in World Cup games, Frank Lampard simply hasn’t done that.