Lampard offers up interesting take on why England fail
Following on from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, a number of high-profile musicians and a slew of current and former soccer players, former England international Frank Lampard is the guest on the latest episode of the BTSport and Copa90 YouTube series FIFA and Chill, and much like when he wore a Chelsea shirt, he doesn’t disappoint.
In a full and, ahem, frank chat Lampard reveals such things as the toughest players he faced on the pitch (Steven Gerrard edges it) and his admiration for former boss Jose Mourinho, but the biggest revelation is his belief as to why the Three Lions failed. Lampard believes that England suffered from the players staying in club cliques, “missing a trick” in not bringing through the Under21s and the ravages of Premier League rivalries.
He described club cliques as a “real negative of the England squad over the years” but suggested there was no real enmity and lauded the current FA regime for doing a bit better with bringing players through. The worst thing, Lampard suggested, is something that has not been dealt with. With tournament squads made up of players who compete with one another over the course of the season, it’s hard to expect unity with the national team.
It’s not the first time that he has said this. Back in 2015 in Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football Lampard described the comparison between England and Argentina – where the squad would reassemble from all over the world – “They come home and there’s a big family, a different spirit.”
It’s an interesting idea, albeit not necessarily new. The internecine nature of England squads has been raised before by plenty of those involved. Lampard’s England peer Paul Scholes is on record as seeing club rivalries as damaging England’s success with players “suspicious” of one another, while James Beattie’s take from his five England caps was “situations in matches where I should have been set up for goals and people were a little bit greedy and had shots themselves” based on these cliques.
Dean Ashton went further and said while he was warned the Three Lions squad could be a bit cliquey, he once told Talksport, he wasn’t prepared for just how much. Lampard was one of several senior players that Ashton said didn’t speak to him once during the camp, with only John Terry making the effort to welcome him.
The cliquishness may be a thing of the past and current manager Southgate has done his part to bring through younger players, but that still leaves the lasting marks of a long season competing against one another to deal with.
The Premier League is slightly different than others in this regard. To take two other countries that have been known to build a squad from domestic-based players: In Italy players regularly move between the big clubs, while in Germany every club seems happy to sell their best players to Bayern Munich. In England, you have rivalries where players will never move between certain clubs, which even Barcelona and Real Madrid seem to be big enough to work past – their players certainly have while representing Spain. Those countries also have another thing in common: silverware in living memory.