England fans have got a lot to thank Fabio Capello for.
Not only have they qualified for the World Cup 2010 in style with two games to spare, but the Italian has finally dispelled the myth Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard cannot play together.
Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren’s tenures in charge of the Three Lions were dogged by talk the midfield duo were unable to combine effectively for England. And the debate was certainly on the mind of McClaren who tried different combinations but could not get the best out of them.
But that’s long forgotten now and the subject has not even been approached by pundits and fans for some time and Wednesday night showed why.
The duo both scored twice in the 5-1 demolition of Croatia – the first time the pair have scored in the same England game for five years.
They have played in six of the eight qualifiers and only a groin injury last year kept Gerrard out of the wins in Croatia and Andorra.
There’s no doubt Capello has got the two of them buzzing, but unlike McClaren, Capello is his own man and has probably never even thought twice about omitting one of the two in his first-choice team.
Gerrard has lined up on the left of a four-man midfield in the World Cup qualifiers, with Lampard alongside Gareth Barry in the centre.
It might look like a tried and tested 4-4-2, but with Wayne Rooney roaming and two full-backs in Ashley Cole and Glen Johnson who are given licence to get forward, Capello’s formation is far more flexible.
Barry is a vital component of Capello’s side as he allows Lampard and Gerrard to maraud forward.
Aaron Lennon featured on the right against Croatia and he is a conventional winger with pace, but Gerrard offers a different dimension on the left.
His powerful runs in field are difficult to stop and Cole’s willingness to run beyond Gerrard from full-back give England an effective balance.
There has never been any doubt both Lampard and Gerrard are class acts, but only now are we seeing them excel in the same team.
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