Steven Gerrard: Analysing the Role He'll Play for England vs. San Marino
England's upcoming World Cup qualifier might seem a little nonsensical, but Roy Hodgson will take it very, very seriously.
International managers have very little time to work with their teams due to the infrequency of the meetups and the limited amount of time they last, and Hodgson takes advantage of every minute he possibly can to improve his team.
The fact that the upcoming game is against San Marino makes no difference whatsoever.
Steven Gerrard has enjoyed a brilliant season for both club and country thanks to the new role he's been afforded. Rather than playing as the dribbling, attacking No. 10 he's excelled as for the past decade, he's been sitting deeper in midfield and dictating from the back.
For Liverpool, he's verging on a regista.
His legs are aging and his ability to beat a man is dwindling, but sitting in front of the centre-backs and spraying passes out is something he can do with ease.
He's been using the hardworking nature of his teammates as a foil and drops so deep the opposition dare not come forward and mark him. The result is something like this.
Unchallenged, Gerrard can drop the ball on a sixpence any time he likes, and in England's last two fixtures he's fulfilled a similar role.
Expect him to lead England out and fulfill a similar role against San Marino, as Hodgson looks to get the game killed off quickly and decisively.
It's important, though, to play the right kind of players around Gerrard when he's playing as a deep-lying playmaker. They need to be high-energy, high-pressure individuals who can occupy the attention of the opposition and run the channels.
In essence, what's required (and what England are verging upon) is a midfield similar to Juventus', who supplement Andrea Pirlo with the hardworking Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal.
In that respect, Jack Wilshere's injury is massive blow for the tactics and the chemistry, but Tom Cleverley, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are players built to play this role.
If the game is won at halftime, expect club management pressure to pull Gerrard off early; Michael Carrick would likely replace him, and that's not a bad option off the bench.
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