Lampard vs Gerrard: who will fare better?

Gerrard Lampard

As many new football managers begin to get to grips with the challenges facing them in their respective roles, there is high interest in two particular individuals. In their playing prime, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were two of England’s finest; goalscoring central midfielders who performed at the very highest level – the World Cup, European Championships, the Champions League, the Premier League. Two of the finest midfielders of their generation, almost certainly.

In managerial terms however, both men are novices – and the 2018-19 season sees them making their debuts in the dugout (or technical area, if you will). Lampard was appointed manager at Derby County; Gerrard hired at Glasgow Rangers. Two big clubs, in their own right, each with their own demands and challenges. Neither man has any real track record in coaching and management to speak of – though Gerrard had a spell as Liverpool U18s manager prior to arriving at Ibrox – so these are testing assignments for the newcomers. The question is, who’s going to fare better?

Lampard made a great start to life at Derby, when his team beat Reading with a late winning goal on the opening day of the season, but in the immediate matches following that he got a taste of how difficult the Championship can be. Derby were heavily beaten, 4-1, at home by Leeds, before a 2-1 defeat at Millwall that left Lampard under no illusions regarding the size of the task ahead. A 2-0 home victory over Ipswich a few days after helped to redress the balance.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” he told the Independent. “I knew that for a fact, and it will continue not being easy, and that’ll be the fact for every manager in this league this season.”

Against Millwall, Derby were caught out by the fast start made by the hosts. Millwall were positive and strong, and went straight at Lampard’s side, who were 2-0 down and as good as beaten before they even got going. That was a lesson for Lampard and his players; a realisation that they won’t always – or often – be afforded the luxury of settling into a game at their own pace.

Like many new managers, Lampard has a honeymoon period – that stage, at the start of his time in charge, when he’s given time to settle in, to shape his squad, and get his ideas across. He’s seen as a bright, young and ambitious coach although of course, those opinions are based on judgement, not evidence. No-one actually knows what he’s like as a manager. And Derby are not a club merely content with occupying a comfortable place in the Championship league table. A mixed run of results and a midtable finish probably isn’t going to be considered good enough for the Rams, who clearly have intentions of returning to the Premier League.

They’ve fallen short in recent seasons and churned through managers – Lampard is their seventh since Steve McClaren left in May 2015. The club’s previous dealings suggest Lampard may not have a longer shelf life than a season, unless that season is a successful one. That won’t be easy – the Championship is intensely competitive and Derby, according to Betway, are among a large group of clubs tipped to finish in the top six.

At Rangers, meanwhile, Gerrard has a massive task. The Glasgow club has a clearly defined goal – to get back to the very top of the Scottish football summit, and that means toppling city rivals Celtic, who have dominated in recent years. Historically, Rangers have always gone toe-to-toe with Celtic, but were demoted to the third tier of Scottish football in 2012 and have been fighting their way back up again since. You can test your knowledge of Rangers and its history here.

The club has rebuilt and returned to the SPL in 2016. In 2016-17, Rangers finished third, 39 points behind Celtic and Aberdeen. Last season, that gap was 12 points behind Celtic and three behind Aberdeen. At the very least, Gerrard has to push his team much closer to Celtic, and push them harder for the title; leapfrogging Aberdeen and into second place is also surely required.

“I feel as though I have players that want to go out there and give everything,” he told the Sunday Herald. “But I can’t control the expectations of the supporters. Fans are fans and they’re going to get excited. They are supporting a huge football club and are used to seeing success.”

Ultimately, success for Rangers means winning the SPL. Celtic have won the last seven titles straight, so it won’t be easy. For the course of this season, a genuine title challenge from Rangers would certainly give Gerrard some credit in the bank, and if the Gers can score some silverware in one of the cup competitions, he’ll have made a great start.

It’s Sterling vs Gerrard in the clash of the midfielders! So has Raheem done enough to replace Stevie G as Liverpool’s most important player?

This season promises to be an extremely long one if you are a Liverpool fan. Our campaign has got off to an underwhelming start to say the least as the form that our team found themselves in just six months ago seems to be a distant memory from some glorious, much fabled past.

The departure of Luis Suarez is certainly a big reason behind that while the injuries that Daniel Sturridge has succumbed to only adds to our misery. In the absence of these two highly talented individuals, the responsibility of changing the outcome of matches has shifted to the shoulders of other players. Steven Gerrard is obviously one of them. The other name is Raheem Sterling.

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The two of them are undoubtedly Liverpool’s best players at the moment. But the burning question that can be posed right now is this. Which one of the two are more important to Liverpool Football Club? Has our Captain Fantastic been finally replaced as Liverpool’s most influential player? 19 year old Sterling is currently tied with Steven Gerrard as the Reds’ top scorer with three goals apiece. The midfield pair are also on the summit of the assists chart separated by just one assist as Sterling has been credited with two while Gerrard has been credited with just the one.

As you may see, both these supremely talented individuals cannot be separated by something as limiting as numbers. In the minutes category, the story remains pretty much the same. The two Englishmen have played each and every minute of Liverpool’s two Champions League matches and they also have the same number of Premier League appearances this season after playing in all eight of the Reds’ matches this season.

Steven Gerrard however has been ever present as he lasted the whole 90 minutes in each and every single one of our League games. Sterling on the other hand played the whole game on five occasions after being taken off around the 80 minute mark twice. This is the first instance where we see clear daylight between the two. If Brendan Rodgers thought that Raheem Sterling was still needed on the pitch to keep matters in his team’s favour, he would definitely have kept the number 31 on.

That however, was not the case. It was in fact, Sterling who was taken off while our skipper was still left on because his presence was needed. This point that I just made, is the first reason that proves that it is still Steven Gerrard who is our most important player. The second reason is the timing and importance of the goals that these two scored.

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Raheem Sterling opened the deadlock while the scores were still 0-0 with goals against Southampton and Tottenham. Liverpool went on to win 2-1 and 3-0 respectively. His third goal was merely a consolation in our thrashing at Upton Park.

Gerrard’s goals were slightly more dramatic as he scored our only goal against Everton from a superb free-kick while his injury time spot kick gave us three points against a valiant Ludogorets side. His third goal was another successfully converted spot kick against Spurs which gave us a 2-0 lead in the game that ultimately finished 3-0 in our club’s favour.

The point that I am trying to make here is that most of Steven Gerrard’s goals swung the result in our favour by either getting us a win or a draw. Sterling’s goals of course were important as well, there are no such things as unimportant goals. But what I mean to say is that Raheem’s goals did not have that big an outcome on the result.

Keeping these facts in mind, I would say that Steven Gerrard is still the biggest fish in the Liverpool pond at this point of time and his influence on the outcome of matches are still invaluable although Raheem Sterling is starting to have an immense impact on games and it should be a matter of time before he replaces Stevie G as our most important player.