Steven Gerrard claims that the FA did not appoint a ‘tough’ enough manager for the England national team’s ‘golden generation’ of players in the early 2000s.
The former England and Liverpool captain was part of a star-studded line-up which included the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Michael Owen, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.
Despite this strong side, England flopped in multiple major tournaments and Gerrard has now taken a swipe at ex-England bosses Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McLaren and Fabio Capello over the way they managed the national team.
Gerrard told BBC’s Match of the Day Top 10: ‘Looking back, we needed a manager who was bigger than all of those individual players.
‘There was managers available at the time, for example Rafa Benitez, but he might not 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.’
Gerrard made his England debut in 2000, a year before Sven Goran-Eriksson took over as the national team boss.
England crashed out at the quarter-final stage in three successive tournaments under the Swede, including two consecutive exits on penalties to Portugal in Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
Eriksson was then replaced by his assistant, Steve McLaren, who failed to qualify for Euro 2008 despite inheriting the same set of players his predecessor had.
Italian manager Fabio Capello then took over in the England hotseat and guided England to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. However, it ended with a thumping 4-1 defeat by Germany in the last 16.
Roy Hodgson was the Gerrard’s final England coach before retirement but he couldn’t bring glory to England at Euro 2012 or the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Now retired and a manager himself, the ex-Liverpool man admits that the national team under-performed and that he is hurt when he looks back at the quality the Three Lions had during the early 2000s.
Gerrard added: ‘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, under-performed.’
Overall, Gerrard made 114 caps for England, making him the fourth highest-capped player in the country’s history.
The 40-year-old also captained his country at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, as well as the 2012 Euros.
One reason highlighted by England’s golden generation for the their failings during this time was the club rivalry between the teams.
With Premier League title-chasing Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal making up most of England’s stars, it created a toxic atmosphere in the Three Lions dressing room.
Former defender Rio Ferdinand said in 2018: ‘It [club rivalry] overshadowed things. It killed that England team, that generation.
‘One year we would have been fighting Liverpool to win the league, another year it would be Chelsea.
‘So I was never going to walk into the England dressing room and open up to Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry or Joe Cole at Chelsea, or Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher at Liverpool because of the fear they would take something back to their club and use it against us.
‘I didn’t realise that what I was doing was hurting England at the time. I was so engrossed, so obsessed with winning with Man United – nothing else mattered.’