Gerrard: England's Golden Generation needed a manager like Klopp, Guardiola or Mourinho

Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, England
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The much-vaunted national side of the 2000s failed to win a major international trophy, something the former midfielder puts down to weak leadership

England's so-called 'Golden Generation' could have won a major tournament if they'd had a forceful manager like Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, according to Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard was part of the star-studded England side of the 2000s, alongside other individual talents such as Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and David Beckham, but as a collective at international tournaments they always flattered to deceive.

Under immense fan and media pressure, England failed to get beyond the quarter-finals of a major tournament for 22 years between Euro 96 and the 2018 World Cup, meaning Gerrard's generation of England talents never got close to a major international trophy.

Looking back, Gerrard feels a major problem was not having a manager with the status or personality to match that of the players, with coaches such as Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello failing to bring success to England.

Speaking on the BBC's Match of the Day Top 10 podcast, Gerrard said: “I look back on England with a lot of regrets. I see the picture of that team and we had some fantastic groups of players over the years. We came close at times but there’s no getting away from it, we underperformed.

“Looking back, we needed a manager who was bigger than all of those individual players. There were managers available at the time, for example Rafa Benitez, but he might not have wanted to have been an international manager at that time.

"I look at managers now that are bigger than the team; Klopp, Mourinho and Guardiola. I think someone like that who was above the golden generation who was prepared to make the tough decisions would have got more out of that group of players, in my opinion.”

While Gerrard enjoyed greater success at club level, the high point being the 2005 Champions League final win with boyhood club Liverpool, he failed to claim a Premier League title during his career.

Liverpool have finally ended their 30-year wait for the trophy this season, and the former Reds captain is full of admiration for the new generation.

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Asked to pick out the major players from the triumphant squad, Gerrard eschewed Liverpool's vaunted attack and heaped praise on their defensive unit, singling out goalkeeper Alisson Becker and central defender Virgil van Dijk as especially important.

Gerrard said: “The two main pieces of the jigsaw looking at Liverpool very closely, are the keeper and van Dijk, for obvious reasons.

“I think Liverpool were a good team and exciting team before van Dijk and the keeper came, but they’ve just absolutely turned them into a world-class side and jigsaw is complete with those two, they’re absolutely phenomenal.”

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