Frank Lampard and Steve Gerrard have excelled as players, but as club managers they are both on the brink of disaster

AS Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard prepare to meet for the first time as managers on Saturday, all rumors of greatness from their playing days feeling far away.

Both were Champions League captains. Both are true Premier League legends.

Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard face problems as managers as big as the headache they've given England bosses over how the two of them can play together

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Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard face problems as managers as big as the headache they’ve given England bosses over how the two of them can play togetherPhoto credit: Getty

Both were on the Ballon d’Or podium in 2005 – second and third, behind Ronaldinho, in the list of the best players in the world.

And both have earned more than 100 caps for England and played 70 times together as part of that midfield conundrum that has never been properly solved.

Now the bosses of Aston Villa and Everton are both on the precipice of a crisis and top the Premier League sackcloth odds.

There is no definitive answer as to who was the better footballer – and there is still debate as to why they were never able to work together effectively for the Three Lions.

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Gerrard has previously pointed the finger at a number of England managers who have failed to deal with the egos of the battered ‘golden generation’.

In a BBC interview in 2020, Gerrard said: “I look back on England with great regret. . . we underperformed.

“We needed a manager who was bigger than all of these individual players.

“I now look at managers who are bigger than the team: Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

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“I think someone like him, who was above the golden generation, who was willing to make the tough decisions, would have gotten more out of this group of players.”

While Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren, Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson didn’t meet those criteria for England, Gerrard and Lampard are certainly ‘bigger’ in profile than their sides at Villa and Everton respectively.

Both have used their weight to challenge underperforming players.

Everton boss Lampard accused his team of having ‘bums’ after an FA Cup thrashing at Crystal Palace last season.

And Gerrard stripped Tyrone Mings of the Villa captaincy before the start of the season, benching the England defender for the surprise opening-day 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth.

But neither man thrives as managers of great old English clubs trying to emulate long-gone successes.

When club cliques riddled the England squad, Lampard and Gerrard were never close friends. And during the Mourinho-Benitez era, the rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool was particularly fierce.

There wasn’t any real animosity between the two either – both bright and likable characters.

A major dilemma faced by Villa boss Steven Gerrard Philippe Coutinho and manager Steven Gerrard concerns the use of playmaker Philippe Coutinho

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A major dilemma faced by Villa boss Steven Gerrard Philippe Coutinho and manager Steven Gerrard concerns the use of playmaker Philippe CoutinhoCredit: PA
Frank Lampard would be under more pressure if Everton lose to Villa

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Frank Lampard would be under more pressure if Everton lose to VillaPhoto credit: Getty

But on the pitch, whether deployed together in the middle of a 4-4-2 or with a defender behind them, they rarely matched.

They weren’t copies as players. Lampard was a more consistent goalscorer and Gerrard had stronger defensive qualities.

Yet they were similar enough to instinctively want to make the same forward runs.

Can either of them become the Premier League premier to play great to become a truly successful manager in England’s top flight?

Because while success as a player deserves some respect in the dressing room when a new manager comes to a club, it can quickly flag.

Playing and managing are two completely different skills – and big players often have trouble training players with lower skills.
Gerrard’s shares were certainly higher than Lampard’s when they took up their current posts last season.

Lampard was interviewed for the Villa job before Gerrard was appointed in November as he was struggling to find employment following his sacking from Chelsea last January.

Emerging at Goodison Park after a year’s hiatus, Lampard inherited a squad littered with expensive flops and recruited from a string of failed managers, at a club that has become a byword for incompetence.

He has struggled to deal with whether big-money signings Philippe Coutinho and Emi Buendia – to borrow the Gerrard Lampard conundrum – can play on the same page.

Everton have stayed away from relegation thanks to their good home form.
But the summer brought little cause for optimism.

Richarlison was sold to Tottenham, Dominic Calvert-Lewin suffered another long-term injury and James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil from relegated Burnley were the only permanent signings ahead of the weekend’s big kick-off.

Wolves defender Conor Coady’s loan signing this week and a permanent deal for Lille midfielder Amadou Onana have lifted spirits.

But after a home loss to Chelsea, another setback would set off alarms at Villa Park.

Gerrard arrived at Villa after guiding Rangers to an unbeatable league season the previous season and has made an impressive start – four wins in six and narrow defeats against Liverpool and Manchester City.

But Villa ended the season miserably with just two wins in their last 11 games – against relegated Norwich and Burnley – followed by that shocker at Bournemouth on Saturday.

Gerrard lost his assistant Michael Beale, a trusted lieutenant at Ibrox and Villa Park when he took charge of QPR.

He has struggled to deal with the question of whether two big-money signings – Philippe Coutinho and Emi Buendia – can play on the same side, echoing the Gerrard-Lampard conundrum.

And his public humiliation of Mings has stunned many at Villa Park, where the England defender is well respected.

It was a massive, potentially crucial call – but perhaps the kind an England manager or two should have made when Gerrard and Lampard were in their pomp.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/football/premier-league/5971972/lampard-gerrard-everton-villa-kidd-column/ Frank Lampard and Steve Gerrard have excelled as players, but as club managers they are both on the brink of disaster

ClareFora

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