England supporters will never stop talking about the ‘Golden Generation’.
Not because they won everything there is to win and helped England become giants of the international game, but because it seemed impossible that they could disappoint to the level that they did.
A team that included Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, John Terry and David Beckham; just how could that group fail?
We’re talking about Champions League and Premier League winners. Players who have represented Manchester United, Liverpool and even Real Madrid.
Yet the best they could manage was consecutive runs to the quarter-finals of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and the European Championship in 2004.
Gerrard and Lampard were so magnificent when they played for Liverpool and Chelsea but put them together and there were no sparks.
Much of the blame falls on England’s coaches - Sven-Goran Eriksson was in charge from 2001 to 2006 - for failing to get the best out of the midfield duo.
Lampard on Gerrard conundrum
Indeed, Lampard believes the wrong system was used, and that England, who often used a diamond formation, should have played three players in midfield.
The retired professional, who was capped 106 times by England, has given a fascinating explanation as to why the Lampard-Gerrard partnership never took off.
“I would have played three midfield players,” Lampard said.
“I would have played Owen Hargreaves or Michael Carrick or Paul Scholes in the earlier days, because he’d already started to retreat to a deep midfield player for Manchester United.
“We generally, in my career, only had one centre-forward focal point who was a shoe-in, which was either Michael Owen or then Wayne Rooney.
“As you know we kind of paired Peter Crouch with him, or Emile Heskey, so it was actually crying out to be done.
“If myself and Steven are playing in midfield for England without anybody behind us, you had to always worry about where he was in relation to me to be able to make your natural runs.
“The worst thing in football is when you start second guessing your movement because it’s so fast, when you wait you can’t arrive.
“It was an absolute no-brainer to me looking back that we didn’t do it.”
Lampard has clearly taken the time to consider where England failed.
It's a real shame that the Three Lions couldn't get things right at the time, though.News Now - Sport News