FRANK Lampard baiting. It’s a fashion thing you know.
Huge sections of this country seem to take some sort of perverse pleasure out of rubbishing the Chelsea and England midfielder’s talents and events in Sofia on Friday evening, when he was left kicking his heels on the bench for a Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria, have given his detractors more ammunition.
“Lampard is one of the best English midfielders but I need to choose the players, not the name” Fabio Capello said. “The first two games he played were not good and at this moment (Gareth) Barry is in really good form.”
Football, of course, is a game of opinions. Ask two blokes in the pub tonight who should line-up against Wales and you will get two wildly different answers.
So it is not the fact that plenty of folk prefer to press Barry or Scott Parker’s claims which confuses Talking Sport. Rather the manner in which Lampard is gleefully derided.
True, he has often failed to fulfil his potential on the international stage (although 22 goals in 87 appearances seems a pretty impressive return to me).
But then again, as our miserable record since 1966 suggests, Lampard is not alone in doing that.
In recent months, he has also started to become susceptible to injury having set the record for consecutive Premier League appearances (164) in 2005.
But, as statistics prove, condemning the 33-year-old to the wilderness would be a grave mistake.
Can we really afford to ignore the claims of a player who, despite not being a striker, is the third most prolific player in his club’s history, the most potent midfielder in the FAPL and also one of its most creative? If you don’t believe me look at its table of assists.
Jose Mourinho still rates him as one of the best he has ever worked with but, then again, what does the Real Madrid coach and two-time Champions League winner know?
Lampard suffers, I suspect, because he isn’t cut from your usual footballing cloth. A privileged background, he went to public school in Brentwood and clearly has something between his ears after gaining an A* Latin GCSE.
Admitting support for the Conservative Party is also a ‘no no’ in this supposedly working-class sport although I’ll take a punt and predict he isn’t the only Tory inside the stadium on match day.
No, our suspicions of Lampard definitely say more about us than they do him.