Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Lampard still believes Shevchenko to be a footballing threat

This week, England fans have been listening to lengthy comments made by Chelsea midfielder, Frank Lampard, about footballing issues surrounding the national team at the moment. His comments focused upon two strikers who, in the not too distant past, were stars for their respective clubs and countries.

The prospect of each player's national side competing in a must-win game without their involvement was once simply unthinkable. However, over the last few years, both strikers have faded into the background and now face uphill battles to recover the kind of form that made them fan favourites in the first place.

Lampard was quick to defend both players, namely Michael Owen and Andriy Shevchenko. His defence of Michael Owen may be backed by some football pundits. After all, he has been plagued by injuries for some time now but has still managed to put in some good performances for Newcastle, a team which has been performing well below-par since the striker joined them.

Hopes remain that Fabio Capello will give Owen another chance, as long as he stays injury-free and starts banging in the goals on a regular basis for Newcastle. However, Lampard's defence of his ex-team mate, Shevchenko, appears misled and wildly optimistic.

England's defenders will come up against the striker on Wednesday as the national team meets Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

The likelihood is that John Terry and co. will not be suffering any sleepless nights from thinking about this prospect. However, Lampard disagrees with this, stating that he is "obviously a fantastic player", who is going to be a "huge threat" during the game. Lampard was also keen to discuss the striker's ability to "produce something out of the blue".

His belief that Shevchenko will want to prove himself during the match on Wednesday is the only part of his speech that is in any way believable. Of course a striker who has suffered such a miserable few years as Shevchenko will be desperate to prove his doubters (of which there are many) wrong.

In football, statistics do not always tell the whole truth but, in Shevchenko's case, they really do. He has scored just ten club goals during the last three years and became a figure of ridicule during his stay at Chelsea.

It was thought that his move back to AC Milan could signal the start of the player's return to form but Shevchenko now spends most of his time warming the bench, making cameo appearances in domestic cup matches.

Indeed, since he returned to the club where he was once a true hero, he has scored just one goal. The fans have been left feeling confused and let down by a player who once embodied the spirit of their club.

Lampard may be trying to support an old friend but his comments simply do not ring true with reality. The likelihood is that Wednesday will present further evidence of the rapid decline of a player who was handed the Ballon D'Or just five years ago.

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