Bryan Robson And Steven Gerrard
Bryan Robson And Steven Gerrard
Leeds United`s center back, Norman Hunter, was often blamed for failing to make a tackle wide on the England right on the half way line against Poland in 1973, which resulted in a goal for Jan Domarski from a simple through ball from the winger Hunter had failed to dispossess. Grezgorz Lato honed in from wide on the left and, ignoring the alarming figures of Derby County center back, Roy McFarland, and Liverpool left back, Emlyn Hughes, sprinting back to put themselves between the ball and the net, coolly passed into the path of Polish forward, Domarski, as he raced into the England penalty area wide on the right to drill a hard shot too close to Peter Shilton`s body for the England `keeper to reach down and collect it, and it went underneath him and into the England goal on 55 minutes. Despite a 63rd minute penalty from Leeds United`s center forward, Alan `Sniffer` Clarke, England went out of the World Cup, as the contest finally ended 1-1, because of the forwards` inability to put a goal past Polish `keeper, Jan Tomaszewski, in open play. Jan had been labeled a `clown` before the game by England manager, Sir Alf Ramsey, whose team had won the World Cup 4-2 for England against Germany in 1966 at Wembley Stadium, London, with a hat trick from West Ham striker, Geoff Hurst, and another from his club compatriot, midfielder Martin Peters.
Germany always claimed that England`s third goal didn`t cross the line, after Geoff Hurst`s right boot inside the penalty box crashed the ball against the bar and down behind the `keeper, while a disallowed goal for Geoff Hurst, assisted by Manchester city inside forward Francis Lee`s wing trickery, in the quarter final against Germany in the 1970 World Cup, gave the Germans revenge as they won 2-3 after that in extra time and England`s effort to retain the Jules Rimet Trophy failed while Brazil with star forward, Pelé, won the trophy for the third time, 4-1, against Italy and, by the competition`s rules, kept it. England had been coasting at 2-0 after a near post goal from Tottenham Hotspur`s midfielder, Alan Mullery who, from wide on the left of midfield, played the ball out wide on the right to Manchester City`s Francis Lee. Mullery ran into the German area and under the `keeper`s nose at the near post to steer in the cross that came in from Lee in the inside right position at the right corner of German `keeper Sepp Maier`s area in the 31st minute.
England`s second came through Lee, again in the inside right position and, receiving a pass from Geoff Hurst further infield, crossed into the German penalty area, where Martin Peters drove in the ball at the far post in the 49th minute. England manager, Sir Alf Ramsey, then made the tactical error of bringing off legendary Manchester United deep lying center forward, Bobby Charlton, who`d kept the German sweeper, Franz Beckenbauer, who liked to go forward, back in defense. Beckenbauer broke away and rounded Mullery to score from distance just outside the England area at the right corner in the 68th minute, with a shot that bounced under Shilton and into the bottom left corner, and Charlton was withdrawn in the 70th. German forward and captain, Uwe Seeler, levelled the score in the 82nd minute, with an amazingly well directed angled back header after left back, Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, almost in a midfield position had centered the ball with his right boot into the England penalty area.
England center forward Geoff Hurst`s disallowed goal in the first period of extra time occurred in circumstances almost identical to the awarding of England`s third goal in the 4-2 defeat of Germany in 1966 as the Argentine referee, Ángel Norberto Coerezza, adjudged the ball to have crossed the line. Manchester City inside forward, Francis Lee, dribbled down the right inside the German area to cross the ball for Hurst to drive the ball into the net, but the ball was adjudged to have been out of play as Lee`s trickery took him dangerously close to the touchline as he sped past the German defenders. When Gerd Müller, who was known for being able to turn on a sixpence in the opponent`s penalty area to get his shot in, prodded in a goal almost on the goal line, after a cross to the far post from wide on the right by 53rd minute substitute, forward Jürgen Grabowski, which was headed back by left wing, Hannes Löhr, and over England` keeper, Peter Bonetti, to where Müller at the right post, and almost on the goal line, forced it in for 2-3 to Germany in the 108th minute of extra time, Germany`s revenge for Hurst`s 1966 goal that wasn`t was complete.
Martin Peters` bid for a third World Cup Finals was as captain against Poland at Wembley in 1973 and England wouldn`t again be seen at the World Cup until France, 1982, when Manchester United`s `Captain Marvel`, Bryan Robson, would take center stage as England captain (1980-91) in the opening game and score the fastest then recorded goal in World Cup history after 27 seconds against France when Manchester United right winger, Steve Coppell, took a throw near the French corner flag, which was back headed across goal by Ipswich Town center back, Terry Butcher, and Robson, with his left boot angled high above the bounce powered the ball down and into the net. England left the Finals in the curious position of never having lost a game but being eliminated. Beating France, 3-1, in their opener, after another goal from Robson in the 67th minute and an 83rd strike from Ipswich Town center forward, Paul Mariner. Goals from Nottingham Forest forward, Trevor Francis, against Czechoslovakia, 2-0, and Kuwait, 1-0, saw England through their group, but a draw against West Germany in the next group stage saw the Germans box clever and Germany`s beating Spain while England drew with the Spaniards meant that the English went home unbeaten but unrewarded.
The 1982 World Cup Finals were a confidence booster for Robson, who`d still not won a major trophy after his move from West Bromwich Albion to follow manager and mentor, `Big Ron` Atkinson, to Manchester United after Englishman, Dave Sexton, had failed to win a trophy at the club following his move from Queens Park Rangers after Scot Tommy Docherty`s surprise exit from Old Trafford after the team`s F.A. Cup Final win over Liverpool, 2-1, in 1977. Docherty was sacked after admitting an affair with Mary Brown, wife of the United physiotherapist, Laurie Brown. Ron took Bryan (£1.5 million) and Remi Moses (£0.5 million), a driving midfielder with a lot of stamina, from The Hawthorns to Old Trafford after the commencement of the 1981-82 season and, although Robson didn`t win anything with Manchester United that term, finishing 3rd in the league kept Robson`s England place for the World Cup Finals.
Robson would take part in three successive World Cup Finals as England captain but winning the FIFA World Cup trophy was beyond a squad handicapped by poor management and better international competitors. Driving United on from midfield to attack and from defense into midfield, Robson was the powerhouse on the field for the club for at least as long as he was the heart of the lions of England. Winning F.A. Cup Finals for `Big Ron` against Brighton and Hove Albion in a replay, 4-2, after a 2-2 draw in 1983, and against Everton, 1-0, in 1985, ensured that, when Ron`s reign came to its inevitable end due to the ascendancy of a managerial star at Scotland`s Aberdeen that couldn`t be ignored for long by the Manchester outfit, Atkinson left as a success when Alex Ferguson arrived on November 6, 1986, after Robson had again captained England in the World Cup Finals in Mexico. Injured against Morocco in the group stage, Robson didn`t play again, but England reached the quarter finals against Argentina where superstar forward Diego Maradona`s infamous `hand of God`, steering the ball home with his fist with the referee unsighted in the 51st minute, gave the South American side an advantage England couldn`t overcome, and a run the length of the pitch in which Maradona beat half of the England team before scoring in the 55th minute justified the eventual outcome, a 2-1 win for Argentina, and the South Americans went on to win the final, 3-2, against Germany.
The arrival of Ferguson at United, after the 1986 World Cup Finals as the only manager outside of the big two Glasgow clubs, Celtic and Rangers, to win a major European trophy, the 1983 European Cup Winners` Cup, meant even greater support than ever for Bryan Robson, United and England captain, and the team won the F.A. Cup Final against Crystal Palace in a replay, 1-0, after a 3-3 draw. Repeating his success in the European Cup Winners` Cup with Manchester United, 2-1, against Spain`s Barcelona, after managing Aberdeen to a 2-1 win over Spain`s Real Madrid in extra time, Ferguson and Robson were the first manager and captain at United to win a major European trophy since Sir Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton won the 1968 European Cup, 4-2, against Portuguese side Benfica. Adding the European Super Cup and the League Cup in the following 1990-91 season, Robson`s reign as England captain ended after the 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy at which the national side reached a semi final against Germany, and drew 1-1 in normal and extra time before losing on penalties, 4-3, and Germany went on to win the final against Argentina, 1-0, with an 85th minute penalty from left wing back, Andreas Brehme.
Injury prone, Bryan had been at his best for the qualifying campaign, leading England for the 50th time in a 5-0 victory over Albania and scoring both goals in a 2-1 win against Yugoslavia, and he played in the opening group F game against the Republic of Ireland, 1-1, but was replaced injured in the 64th minute during the 0-0 draw with the Netherlands by Aston Villa`s David Platt who went on to star in Robson`s role. England qualified from group F with a goal from Southampton center back, Mark Wright, in a 1-0 win over Egypt, before beating Belgium, 1-0, with a majestic Platt swiveling volley near the end of extra time in the 119th minute, while the expected victory over African side, Cameroon, in the quarter finals, was hard won, 3-2, and needed a second penalty from Tottenham Hotspur center forward, Gary Lineker, after an early headed strike from Platt following a cross from Nottingham Forest left full back, Stuart Pearce, in the 25th minute to get the team through after Cameroon led 1-2.
Although Bryan retired from the England scene in 1991, his club career would go on with Alex Ferguson`s support for two consecutive championships before he retired as a player at the end of the 1993-94 season. United won the title in 1993, and the much sought after `double` of league and F.A. Cup in 1994. Although Robson didn`t play in the F.A. Cup Final in which the team defeated Chelsea, 4-0, he made enough league appearances, 10 (5), to qualify for another champions` medal. Only one other player of his era came close to Robson in his ability to carry a team forward on his own, Steven Gerrard of Liverpool, who after his debut season of 1998-99 managed to cajole and badger a club that hadn`t won a league title since 1990 to the European Cup Final of 2005 and beat A.C. Milan of Italy 3-2 on penalties after it was 3-3 in extra time. Gerrard scored the first Liverpool goal on 54 minutes when Liverpool were losing 0-3 and Steven`s ability to turn the team around and make triumph out of disaster was at the heart of Liverpool`s cup successes in a period when they couldn`t sustain a league campaign with the players they had. Although Gerrard made his England debut in central midfield in 2000, he wasn`t selected for the 2002 World Cup Finals in South Korea and Japan at which England eventually lost, 1-2, to Brazil in the quarter finals as the South Americans were on their way to a meeting with Germany in the final they won, 2-0.
At club level Gerrard was inspirational, and Liverpool won a treble of League Cup, 5-4 on penalties against Birmingham City after 1-1 and extra time, F.A. Cup, 2-1 against Arsenal with goals from future Manchester United center forward, Michael Owen in the 83rd and 88th minutes as Liverpool came from behind, and the UEFA Cup in 2001, 5-4 against Spanish side, Deportivo Alavés, with Gerrard getting Liverpool`s second in the 16th minute to put the reds 2-0 up. The team added the European Super Cup at the beginning of the 2001-2002 season by virtue of winning the UEFA Cup, which qualified them to meet the European Cup winners, and Liverpool duly beat Bayern Munich, 3-2. After winning the League Cup again in 2003, 2-0, with goals from Gerrard (39) and Owen (86) against Manchester United, Liverpool`s 2003-2004 qualifying for the European Cup in fourth place in the English championship, and Final victory over A.C. Milan of Italy, gave them the opportunity to win the European Super Cup again at the beginning of the 2005-2006 season and CSKA Moscow of Russia were dispatched, 3-1. Before announcing his decision to leave Liverpool in 2015 for Major League Soccer in the United States of America, Gerrard inspired the reds to a 2011-12 League Cup win against Cardiff City, 3-2 on penalties, with Steven missing his own spot kick after a 1-1 draw ended 2-2 in extra time. The 2001 UEFA Cup was won with a `golden goal` from Deportivo Alavés` right back, DelfÍ Geli, who headed into his own net from midfield Welshman Gary McCallister`s free kick wide on the left in the 116th minute to gift the game, 5-4, to Liverpool.
The pressure driven successes of the Steven Gerrard era were in keeping with his drive to compete. Victories over Birmingham on penalties, 5-4, in the 2001 League Cup Final, preceded DelfÍ Geli`s `golden` own goal in the 2001 UEFA Cup Final, and Liverpool were 0-3 down to A.C. Milan before winning on penalties, 3-2, after extra time and a 3-3 draw in the European Cup Final of 2005, while Liverpool`s 3-2 win over Cardiff City in 2011-12 after a 1-1 draw ended 2-2 in extra time emphasized the driving force of Gerrard and the never say die attitude that kept Liverpool winning trophies even when the side wasn`t capable of sustaining a campaign to win the league title.
The Steven Gerrard factor seemed to be present at the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany when the England team went out of the competition at the quarter final stage against Portugal, 3-1, on penalties after the game had ended 0-0 after extra time and Gerrard missed his spot kick. The eventual winners, Italy, beat France, 5-4, on penalties after a 1-1 draw and extra time. In the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa, England lost to Germany before the quarter finals, 1-4, while the Final was won by Spain`s right winger Andrés Iniesta in the 116th minute of extra time against the Netherlands, 1-0. In the 2014 World Cup Finals England didn`t win a game in their group B with defeats to Italy, 1-2, Uruguay, 1-2, and a draw, 0-0, with Cosa Rica. Narrow success had given way to a broad margin in defeat for England, which suggests that tigerish denial of inferiority in order to win against better opposition has become the inferiority that causes defeat. Steven Gerrard made his debut for Liverpool in 1998-99 and was the driving force in the team that tigerishly refused to be beaten.
Defeating Birmingham City to win the League Cup, 5-4, on penalties, Liverpool went on to defeat Deportivo Alvares in the UEFA Cup Final in extra time with an own `golden goal from Spanish right back, DelfÍ Geli, and the Super Cup against European Cup holders, Bayern Munich, 3-2, while after beating A.C. Milan to win the European Cup themselves on penalties in 2005 after being 0-3 down, Liverpool beat European Cup holders, CSKA Moscow, 3-1, to again win the European Super Cup. Although it`d be expected that the European Cup holders would beat the UEFA Cup Winners in the Super Cup because the UCL Champions are the champions of their domestic leagues, it`s often true that the supposedly inferior team, that is, the UEFA Cup Winners win, because of a tigerish refusal to be beaten. However, tigerishly refusing to be beaten isn`t a sign of football ability, which is probably why England under the captaincy of Steven Gerrard failed so consistently. Tigerish refusal to be beaten replaced ability as the method applied to winning the World Cup and that was ultimately fatal to England`s campaigns.
Teams led by Bryan Robson could have won the World Cup. England achieved fourth place overall in 1990, losing 1-2 to Italy in the game that decided third and fourth, but England without Robson, who retired from International competition with England in 1991, didn`t qualify for the World Cup Finals in the United States of America in 1994, while with Steven Gerrard as captain their highest achievement was a 2006 quarter final defeat against Portugal, 1-3, on penalties, after extra time when the game had ended 0-0 in normal time, which represented tigerish refusal to accept defeat as a game plan for a side devoid of ability, because they`d left it out of the squad, lest it interfere with the tigerisnhess of Gerrard, who was 18 when he debuted and 25 when Liverpool`s refusal to admit defeat led to their beating A.C. Milan in the European Cup Final of 2005. Although Liverpool won the 2006 F.A. Cup Final against West Ham on penalties, 3-1, after a 3-3 draw and extra time, it was typical tigerish Gerrard who, scoring in the 54th minute to make it 2-2, and again in the 91st minute to make it 3-3, evinced a refusal to admit defeat that ultimately represented the squad`s weakeness in terms of genuine ability, and Gerrard only led Liverpool to a single further trophy at the age of 32, the 2012 League Cup against Cardiff City, which Gerrard`s tigerish refusal to lose again resulted in a 3-2 victory on penalties after a 1-1 draw and 2-2 in extra time.
Tigerishness has its uses but Manchester United after Robson, and in the same period of Liverpool`s successes with Gerrard, won four league championships (1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03) as well as the 1999 European Cup against Bayern Munich, 2-1, and the 1999 World Club Cup against South America`s Palmeiras, 1-0, thanks to a left wing cross and a drive in at the far post from Robson`s replacement, Roy Keane. When Gerrard`s Liverpool won their League Cup of 2012, United had gone on to win four more championships (2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2010–11) as well as the 2008 European Cup, 1-0, against Chelsea, and the 2008 World Club Cup, 1-0, against Ecuador`s LDU Quito, with a goal from England`s dynamic center forward, Wayne Rooney. Tigerishness has its day but winning the league and then winning the European Cup is the sign of true quality, which is needed if England are to win the World Cup again.