::: FistedAway today welcomes a guest post from Elliott, editor of the rather lovely Futfanatico :::
For the past decade, two midfielders have owned the centre of the park for the Three Lions: Steven Gerrard of Liverpool and Frank Lampard of Chelsea. For years, fans have watched these two players make the same run, step on one another’s toes, lazily expect the other to tackle, fail to beat up men and pass to the other team. But as the sun sets on their respective careers, fans know ask: can the two of them successfully not botch the job in midfield at the same time?
The John Terry sexcapades. Wayne Rooney’s adventures on Skype. For all the personal drama outside of the England locker room, Fabio Capello hasn’t had too many surprises on the pitch. The Italian could always count on starting Steven Gerrard alongside Frank Lampard, and expect a horribly imbalanced midfield that turned in consistently mediocre performances. But Father Time, and the emergence of Jack Wilshere, have put a wrinkle in the cojones of certainty.
England fans are horrified. If they can no longer blame the ineffective Lampard-Gerrard midfield combination for all of their team’s miseries, then what’s next? Pinning a loss on the goalie seemed a surefire second option, but then Manchester City’s Joe Hart emerged as a solid non-clown and valiant scourge of cameramen. Sans Frank E and Steve G in midfield, the English just may have to accept the reality that they field a superb but not elite national team.
Or blame Fabio Capello, the manager. Yeah, that’ll do.
Pundits are equally scared. Many had kept boilerplate copies of the same “England disappoints due to Lampard-Gerrard combination” articles and made minor tweaks for each major tournament. And, of course, there is the crucial non-footballing element. If these two could not co-exist on the same pitch at the same time, then the converse may be true. At the next World Cup, Frank Lampard could find himself driving to a pub to catch the game, only to realise that some scouser has already taken his favorite parking spot. Once inside, that same scouser has occupied his favorite table. Tables.
And, after the match, when the tab arrives, both will indiscriminately try to pass it to another person.