Steven Gerrard’s late-stage maturity has him on a career high
Liverpool legend has now played under five permanent England managers
Then came the lean years, that extended middle period from 2005-2010, ushered in by the defeats by Denmark and Northern Ireland that signified the slow death of Sven-ism, wrapped around the wider disappointments of Germany 2006 and taking in defeats by Russia in Russia (he was captain) and Croatia at Wembley in 2007 (he was captain), the dismal draw with Algeria (he was captain) and finally the disintegration against Germany in South Africa (he was, again, captain).
The age of Roy
After which, 84 caps and 10 years into his England career, Gerrard might easily have shuffled off into gilded club football dotage. Instead he stayed, missed a year in2011, and was back for the start of the dawning of the age of Roy. Unexpectedly, the past 20 months have provided the most settled period of Gerrard’s England career. In 16 games, all as captain, Gerrard’s England have lost only once, the friendly in Sweden, and have won 10 times.
In that period Gerrard has been a member of Uefa’s team of Euro 2012, led England to late-breaking World Cup qualification and played consistently well in the deep central midfield role that should perhaps always have been his.
Looking back, England managers have perhaps been a little confused by Gerrard, too much in thrall to his long-limbed explosiveness, tolerating his slightly scatter-gun, occasionally golden-bullet long-range passing and using him as sword when perhaps he would have been better left as shield with an extra gear. As he is now. England’s prospects next summer may be bleak to middling.
But for Gerrard personally, qualification represents a notable career high. He spoke about his genuine excitement at the prospect of playing for England in Brazil, testimony three years on from the horrors of Potchefstroom, to football’s ability to renew and replenish – and beyond that to two years of assured late-career international retrenchment