Steven Gerrard is a better footballer than Frank Lampard. He always has been, and he still is.
There, I said it.
There is no need to choose one excellent US-bound old stager over the other of course. Both have enjoyed sensational careers and as they drift towards the end, each is equally deserving of all the plaudits heading their way.
However, with both veteran midfielders together experiencing the long goodbye (to Premier League football) at the same time, before heading off to play in the MLS later this year – now feels like as good a time as any to assess which of these two English gems has been the best.
First things first, the Manchester City man (sorry Chelsea fans) is the superior goal-getter. That’s indisputable.
Yes, Stevie G has slammed home many a pile driver in his time – including four goals this week alone – but statistically he’s always been around five per cent down on Lamps in the goals to games department.
Not since Sir Bobby Charlton was lashing home 30-yarders in the Sixties has European football enjoyed the sight of a bona fide midfielder being as machine-like in front of goal as Chelsea’s record scorer – and even now, at the grand old age of 36 (when he was meant to be winding things down in the Big Apple) the Londoner’s in-built Sat-Nav still knows exactly where the corner of a Premier League net is.
I first clapped eyes on Lampard at the age of 12.
He played for West Ham’s junior teams alongside my younger brother for a while, and the abiding memory I have of watching him, is of a rather tubby young ‘Frankie’ bursting through the middle before smashing unstoppable drive after drive, low and hard, past a string of helpless pre-pubescent goalkeepers. Old habits die hard I guess.
As uncannily brilliant as he has always been in front of goal, that’s the only clear area Lampard outshines his former England teammate in my opinion.
It’s a good point but does Lampard’s total of 11 winners’ medals with Chelsea, including three Premier League titles, really out trump nine cup successes for Gerrard at Liverpool?
Considering some of the decidedly average Reds sides he’s played in, I find it remarkable Gerrard’s only two short of a player that’s had the luxury of sharing dressing rooms with the likes of Gianfranco Zola, Michael Essien, Arjen Robben, Claude Makelele, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech and John Terry.
Had Gerrard been surrounded by that kind of talent as often – and played for head coaches of the calibre of Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti too – I’m pretty sure he’d have won a title or two along the way.
In a similar vein you could of course argue that Lampard’s ability was just as capable of carrying Liverpool as Gerrard’s, had they traded places. Sadly, we’ll never know. Always one of many stars, rarely has every eye been trained on the former Stamford Bridge hero in expectation that he’ll bail his team out.
Gerrard on the other hand, has coped with an overwhelming weight of responsibility for most of his career.
By and large he’s handled it magnificently too.
Aside from the red-hot Torres and Suarez years (which only amount to four or five seasons at best) it’s almost always been down to Gerrard to provide the inspiration at Anfield, and he’s delivered it consistently. Olympiakos, Istanbul, West Ham in the Cup Final, even Monday night at AFC Wimbledon, are just a few examples.
Other comparisons between the two, are purely down to taste.
If we’re talking about leadership qualities, dead ball prowess and positional versatility I think the Liverpool star shades it. And while I’ve admired Lampard’s delicate guile, instinctive eye for a pass and all-round quality down the years, the way Gerrard has consistently married physical force with a stellar technique, for me, edges him in front.
He just has something a little bit extra; a dash of heroic purpose, within.
Both men have been much maligned down the years, especially at international level where they couldn’t quite scale the heights expected of them, but in terms of their performances at club level, both will forever be regarded as true legends of the English game.
If we’re knocking up a list though; Gerrard’s name should be higher.
What do you think? Have your say – click here to vote for either Lampard or Gerrard.