Whilst England are not a big concern of mine, I like all our lads to do well on International duty. Of course it made me chuckle when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, particuarly given that there wasn’t a single United player in the squad for England’s last crucial qualifying match, but I was of course disappointed for the likes of Rooney, Ferdinand, Brown, Hargreaves and Carrick who wouldn’t get football in the summer.
I think International duty is important for the players though, whichever country they reside from, with Rooney and Ferdinand who clearly love to represent the Three Lions. International friendlies fuck me off but I enjoy seeing our lads in action at the World Cup and European Championships.
Of all the United players who have represented their country at the highest level, Sir Bobby Charlton stands head and shoulders above them all, proving an inspiration to his country and owning the medal all players dream of as proof. It is for this reason I will take offence at Terry Venables‘ claim that Steven Gerrard is a ‘Bobby Charlton’!
Every manager would love to have a Bobby Charlton in their team. Fabio Capello and Rafa Benitez are lucky fellas because they both have that player. His name is Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool skipper is the modern-day equivalent of the Manchester United and England legend, especially when it comes to international duty. Just like Gerrard, Bobby was a match-winner who knew where the net was.
Sir Bobby Charlton won the World Cup in 1966, two years before leading United to European Cup glory. In the group stages, Charlton scored one of England’s four goals. In the semi-final, Charlton scored both of England’s goals in a 2-1 win over Portugal. In that World Cup, only six players scored more goals than him, including the likes of Eusébio and Beckenbaur.
Compare this with Gerrard, who along with Liverpool team mate Jamie Carragher and rentboy Frank Lampard, missed his penalty which would have helped England progress to the semi-finals at the last World Cup, and it’s laughable to put them in the same sentence. Match winner? For Liverpool, without doubt. For his country? Never, which is a surprise, given that Gerrard rates playing for England as more important than playing for his ‘beloved club’.
“When I join up with England, these games are bigger than Champions League games or league games,” he said. “You’re representing your country. If you go to a major tournament and play well or achieve something as a team it’s going to be a lot bigger than achieving something at your club.”
Still, in the seven games Gerrard has captained England, they have lost on four occasions. In terms of deciding goals, the only match winning goal Gerrard has ever scored for England was during a friendly against Serbia Montenagro in 2003. Playing alongside Frank Lampard for England, he, like most other players in the team, was entirely anonymous in the lead up to England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008. That’s not me singling Gerrard out for his distinctly average displays, rather contesting the idea that he could be called a ‘match-winner’ when he blended in with the nothing performers around him. In any competition he is been a part of with England, he has failed to score outside the Group Stages.
Sir Bobby Charlton scored 49 goals from 106 appearances for England, the highest ever scorer for this country, whilst Gerrard is currently on 14 goals from 70 appearances. When Bobby was Gerrard’s age, he’d already scored 35 goals!
Liverpool would be well and truly fucked with Gerrard but for England, you probably wouldn’t even notice he was missing. In contrast, Charlton was a shining light for both club and country and it would take a truly special player to earn a genuine comparison with him.