FINALS GUIDE: A GOLDEN CHANCE ALL FOR ONE ONE FOR ALL
Lampard: Players, fans & media have a part to play if England are to have a chance in Russia
FRANK LAMPARD’S World Cup message to the English nation is simple: Time to come together as one.
That goes for the players. No club cliques please. No hiding and skulking.
It goes for the media. No targeting and bashing of individuals for no obvious reason.
And it goes for the Three Lions’ faithful. If in Russia cheering on the boys, stay positive in times of trouble. If at home watching from the sofa, avoid the temptation to join the social media trolls moaning and groaning at the first setback.
Get these elements behind the scenes working in harmony and Harry Kane and Co should at least have the platform to perform to their maximum.
So says Lampard, the England legend who won 106 caps between 1999 and 2014 but never any silverware.
Earlier this year Raheem Sterling expressed similar sentiments, stating the one thing he would appreciate when on England duty is a little more TLC.
Asked about the Manchester City winger’s demands, Lampard was full of admiration. The new Derby County boss, 39, said: “I applaud Raheem for saying it. It’s easy to criticise when an England player says that but he’s right.
“The England fans in the last tournament I played at in Brazil were fantastic, even though we got knocked out of the group. “But we live in a modern age of social media where if you pick your phone up, you’ll probably find some hurtful things being said about you as an England player.
“So they have to work out a way of dealing with that whether it’s not looking at your phone, having a thick skin and not taking things too hard. “But the media and the public have a responsibility. It would be helpful if they were on the same side.” Lampard’s rallying call came at the BBC’s recent launch of their World Cup coverage in Russia. He will have been impressed, then, by last week’s media day at St George’s Park where all 23 of Gareth Southgate’s World Cup picks were available for interview. Maintaining that decent status quo, however, is easier said than done. As Lampard experienced first hand in 2010, when relations between the press and Fabio Capello’s squad deteriorated swiftly.
So even if, God forbid, Southgate’s side fail to get off to a flyer against Tunisia a week tomorrow, staying united behind them is essential.
Ex-Chelsea midfielder Lampard added: “The easy thing is to get behind the team before the first game. The time to stick with them is when something goes wrong.
“That’s when it has gone wrong in tournaments before. I remember in South Africa in 2010 the press conferences being very negative.
“We were fending off questions about the captaincy, training regimes and this and that. It became really detrimental.”
That negativity then feeds into the nation’s psyche which, no matter how far away they are, quickly gets back to the under-fire players.
“That’s when you need a thick skin because it’s hard to switch phones off for four to six weeks,” said Lampard.
“I never did social media but the modern game is different. If you have an account, it’s difficult not to be aware of it.
“But the media and the keyboard warriors, or whatever you call them, must try not to be critical because these lads, I guarantee, are passionate about their country.
“That’s an absolute given – people should respect that.
“Criticism is normal if it’s constructive about the team, the tactics and how they play. But things that go over the line don’t help.”
Nor does breaking off into club-based factions whenever England assemble – as Rio Ferdinand conceded was the case during the failed Golden Generation era.
Lampard is confident Southgate has this issue under control, and added: “We didn’t hate each other. It was natural, human nature when competing against each other every week.
“It was an underlying factor but not an excuse. To counteract it, you have to work hard at it.
“Gareth is definitely aware if it. He’s got a good young bunch seemingly more together. They have come through from the younger age groups.”