Lam­pard: Play­ers, fans & me­dia have a part to play if Eng­land are to have a chance in Rus­sia

Daily Star Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Harry Pratt

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.”

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