The dust is starting to settle on another abject England World Cup campaign that this time saw them heading home before the knockout stages had even begun.
Failure to qualify, or even compete, in a group that was more daunting on paper than in practice has started the wheels in motion on another review into where it went wrong for a clearly talented group of players.
Manager Roy Hodgson has been backed by the powers that be in a move that broadly makes sense. Hodgson did what England fans have wanted since the days of Terry Venables and trusted young players to be part of his squad, and his faith was repaid by the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley who shone given their chance.
England’s performances were in truth not all that bad, two defeats by the odd goal and a lifeless draw in a dead rubber contest produced displays that showed more intent than we are used to seeing from England’s teams and in all honesty the options for replacing the 66-year-old are slim at best.
One area where England where need to make a change is with the captain.
So often Liverpool and England’s saviour, Steven Gerrard failed to deliver on the biggest stage. The 34-year-old enjoyed an excellent season for Liverpool who came as close to winning the Premier League as they have done since they last won the old first division back in 1990 but the talismanic captain endured a torrid end to the campaign as his error handed Chelsea a pivotal victory at Anfield.
Whether that rollercoaster season affected his mentality will never be known but put simply Gerrard didn’t do enough to lead his country.
His performances in both of the group games that he started were below the expected standard and his range of passing, especially against Italy was found wanting; in truth Gerrard’s junior Liverpool colleague Jordan Henderson looked more at home in the heart of England’s midfield.
Gerrard will be 36 by the time Euro 2016 rolls around and shouldn’t be commanding a place in Hodgson’s starting line-up in two years’ time. Given that, it’s time for him to step aside and let others come through.
Henderson acquitted himself well while Jack Wilshere looked lively against Costa Rica. The Arsenal man now just needs to remain injury free for a significant period of time. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been touted as a central midfielder by club boss Arsene Wenger and Ross Barkley can provide a threat playing from a deeper role.
Gerrard is unlikely to want to retire as he stands two appearances away from overtaking David Beckham as England’s most capped outfield player, as well as being 12 appearances away from capturing the mantle of being England’s most capped player with 126 caps.
There is no room for sentiment in England’s Euro 2016 project however and if the Liverpool skipper chooses not to retire then Hodgson needs to drop him to enable the squad to evolve.
Gerrard is a surviving member of England’s golden generation and has produced some memorable performances for his country over the years, but his time is up how and it’s time for Gerrard and England to move on.
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