Saturday, 19 June 2010

Lampard's cloak of invisibility

"Frank Lampard, we can all agree," wrote the Wing Commander of last night's debacle, "has rarely put in a finer performance than the one he put in tonight. He occupied the centre circle like some international spy passing anonymously and unnoticed among the hordes of the foreign foe, unnoticed, indeed, by anyone at all." Lampard has the curious ability to be so invisible for England that you genuinely forget that's he's playing; it'll sometimes be the 70th minute or so before I remember that he's in the team. You can't make the same mistake with Gerrard (whose play last night, according to the Wing Commander, "was almost telepathic – it was if he was passing to colleagues who existed only his own head"). Gerrard is a high visibility player, regularly involved, not always successfully (in fact, it's hard to think of another player of such high quality who gives the ball away so frequently and so cheaply).
But it's hard to imagine any other player performing so consistently indifferently for England as Lampard has and still keeping their place, and after last night you wonder if England would do better if the "spine" that was supposedly so crucial to their success was ripped out. Carrick can be a diffident sort of player, but could he be as anonymous as Lampard has been? Dawson is inexperienced, but it's unlikely that he would be as laborious and lethargic as Terry, surely the most overrated of England's "stars". And Defoe and Crouch looked as if they might pose some goal threat, unlike Rooney and Heskey.

By the way, just in case there are those who aren't aware: the Wing Commander's Send Them Victorious, justly described by Brian Phillips of Dirty Tackle as "the funniest World Cup of all time", is out now on Zer0.

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