I want to stay on as England captain, says Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard insists he wants to captain England to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Prior to this summer’s European Championship, the midfielder had hinted he would be considering his international future at the end of the tournament.
However, the 32-year-old seems to have been given a new lease of life by the arrival of Roy Hodgson, who installed the Merseysider as captain.
Gerrard has thrived on the responsibility and, until the quarter-final exit to Italy in Kiev, had been England’s player of the tournament.
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Gerrard has now confirmed a desire to extend his stint with the national side.
“I have had a brief chat with the manager and told him I am available as long as I am wanted at this level,” he said.
“I have loved it (the captaincy). I have loved the responsibility. I have enjoyed every minute of it.
“I have tried my best and gave it everything I have got.”
Gerrard was directly responsible for the creation of three of England’s five goals.
He cannot do the whole thing himself, though. Against Italy, when he was badly affected by cramp, the England side found themselves comprehensively outplayed, unable to either retain possession for any decent length of time themselves or prevent Andrea Pirlo dictating the game from a deep-lying position.
It is a flaw Gerrard acknowledges must be ironed out if England are to make any significant progress.
“We have given a good account of ourselves,” he said. “We haven’t blown people away, but we stuck together, fought hard and gave every inch of effort.
“However, at times we have found it difficult to keep the ball. The possession stats speak for themselves. It tells you that, moving forward as a nation, we do need to try and improve with the ball.”
The problem with a lack of possession is two-fold. Most obviously, it denies the opportunity to create openings.
Secondly, the energy expended trying to either win it back or deny the opposition room has a draining effect.
Yet Hodgson feels there is a danger in reading too much into the possession statistics alone. He prefers to look at where the opposition had the ball in order to work out how his team performed.
“It is obvious when you are chasing the ball it affects your fatigue levels,” he said.
“The statistics that interest me are the ones from the final third, the number of times teams get behind you and get strikes at goal. I would have to agree that we could have kept the ball better and made more use of the good situations we got into – but I don’t think statistics prove a great deal and the fact is we played quite positively.”
Nevertheless, having come so far, the over-riding emotion is one of yet another missed opportunity at a major tournament, a lack of nerve proving costly for the sixth time, the last four of which have come at the quarter-finals.
“The effort and pride will be missed because we have gone out in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out again,” said Gerrard. “We are all hurting and we are all disappointed. But if you look at the big picture, from four or five weeks ago, everyone has given it their best shot.”
Indeed, Gerrard feels signs of improvement are obvious, certainly from the shambolic efforts in South Africa two years ago.
He added: “We have performed to a higher level at this competition than the previous one for sure.”