Gerrard, Scholes, Lampard: Eriksson appeared to settle the debate in 2013

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Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard: Which player was better?

It’s the eternal question that English football fans have debated for decades.

Manchester United fans will say Scholes. Chelsea fans will say Lampard. Liverpool fans will say Gerrard. While rival fans seemingly can’t decide between the trio.

But a more important question during their England career was: How do all three play together?

It was a question that former England manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson, couldn’t answer despite the trio being in their prime.

Eriksson had arguably England’s four greatest ever midfielders at his disposal between 2001–2006 with David Beckham added to the mix.

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It resulted in Scholes often being shifted towards the left in order to fit all four midfielders into his XI.

But who was the best midfielder he managed in his England squad?

Well, that was a question BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Mark Chapman posed to Eriksson back in 2013.

His answer? Well, the Swede appeared to suggest that Scholes was actually the best.

VIDEO: Eriksson appears to settle the Scholes, Lampard, Gerrard debate

“In your eyes, who was the best midfielder in that squad when you were in charge of England?” Chapman asked.

“If you look at all-around footballers, they are good all of them,” Eriksson said.

“But, if you look at Paul Scholes in a very, very good shape he can do everything with the ball. He didn’t lose the ball. He could pass it short, he could pass it long, he could score goals. Fantastic footballer and a joy to see him playing football.

“What do you do with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham? You have to use them. Because if you take Beckham, he had talents that nobody else had. Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were goalscorers, midfielders who were hard-working and could defend and attack.

“The best solution if we wanted to use all four midfielders was to put, at that time, Paul Scholes on the left.”

Paul Scholes of England chats with coach Sven Goran Eriksson during a training session at the Estadio Cidade de Coimbra prior to their second Euro 2004 match June 16, 2004 Coimbra, Portugal. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Chapman intervened and dug out a quote from Eriksson’s autobiography which read: “Scholes was England’s best football player. He had everything. It was impossible to take the ball from him, and he never mishit a pass. He did not belong on the left flank but that’s where we needed him most.”

Chapman then asked: “Surely if he is your best footballer do you not play him in his best position?”

“Yeah, but to put some of the others to the left is not very good,” Eriksson replied.

“And you want the four best midfielders on the pitch and it’s always like that. You want the best football players on the pitch as much as possible.”

It seems Eriksson really did rate Scholes higher than Lampard, Gerrard and Beckham but unfortunately couldn’t fit them all into a formation that suited England.

As it was, the Golden Generation failed to really fulfil their potential.

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