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Over the course of their respective playing careers, Steven Gerrard vs. Frank Lampard was the predominant debate in English football.
The two were compared to each other to the same extent that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are now. One was the intense off-road that dragged Liverpool to the other side of the line in Istanbul; the other was the softer touch that scored goals for fun and licked up trophies like glasses of water.
The furious debate played a role in derailing England’s ‘golden generation’. No manager could figure out how to get the best of both of them at the same time, but individually, they were too good to put down.
A 4-4-2 with Paul Scholes on the left flank, surprisingly, never made the Three Lions reach the quarterfinals.
In many ways, the debate was inevitable. Generational players from the same era, playing in the same position, for rival clubs where they frequently clashed in the park. How could you not make comparisons, especially when they yelled every two weeks?
As players, there was little to divide Gerrard and Lampard. Each stood out in their own way, but in the end, they were equally brilliant.
However, it seems a bit silly that the debate continues in their managerial careers.
Because so far, there has only been one winner. And spoiler: it’s not Frank Lampard.
Gerrard’s accomplishments with the Rangers thus far … haven’t been overlooked per se, but they certainly haven’t been taken as seriously as they should. They have taken place in the league that everyone could win, apparently, and many in England are reluctant to accept that he is a good coach because he has not yet drunk from the gold cup that is the Premier League.
Managing Rangers is a much more difficult task than managing Chelsea, Derby County, Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Burnley, Newcastle … or any of the other clubs that the current ‘best’ English coaches have struggled with. It may only be Scottish football, but there is a level of expectation in Old Firm clubs that is reflected in only a handful of teams across Europe.
It takes an incredible coach to coach players through that, and Gerrard has done it with flying colors at a time when it has been more difficult than ever.
You just have to look at the state of affairs when he took office to see how challenging things were. Rangers had just finished third, behind Aberdeen, and Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic, who had just completed their second consecutive national treble.
It was a Rangers team that had just conceded 50 goals in a league campaign and not long ago left Europe for Progres Niederkorn, runners-up in the Luxembourg National Division. Pedro Caixinha had been fired so quickly that he became the least served manager in club history, and had to play most of the season with his reserve coach in charge of the first team because they literally couldn’t attract any of your immediate players. goals for accepting the job.
They were so absolute basket box That Celtic, who had just sleepwalked towards his seventh straight title, already felt like Ten in a Row was in the bag.
Gerrard’s two and a half years later, and Rangers are 19 points clear at the top of the Premiership, undefeated, and in the knockout stages of the Europa League, also undefeated.
Some will say that he was lucky this season. His team is superior only because Celtic have been poor. And while that argument might carry weight if the Rangers were limping over the line, it isn’t, because they’ve absolutely stormed it so far. They have won 20 of their 22 league games so far and are averaging points per game better even than Celtic in Rodgers’ best season.
On top of that, Celtic hasn’t even been that bathtub. The only league games they have lost this season have been to Rangers, and in addition to Hibs, they have beaten everyone else in the division.
However, I’ll say it again: they are 19 points behind.
Make no mistake, the Rangers will win the Premiership this season. And having overthrown nine years of unprecedented dominance to do so, it will be the best achievement by an English coach in the men’s game since Harry Redknapp won the FA Cup with Portsmouth.
However, there will still be people who say that it is a major achievement to take Chelsea from third place in the Premier League to … fourth place in the Premier League.
Lampard is a promising manager. So are Dean Smith, Sean Dyche, Eddie Howe and the other young English coaches who have impressed in recent seasons.
But let’s not compare any of that to what Gerrard is doing in South Glasgow, because none of that comes close.