IN MY day, players’ careers rarely lasted past their early 30s.
With the physical nature of the game and injuries, people didn’t seem to be able to handle the pace and demands of it all.
These days it’s all changed. With better nutrition, training and methods of treatment, the players are absolute athletes and they seem to get better with age – like good bottles of wine.
Sir Alex Ferguson has flown the flag with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes and, once players accept they are not going to be in the team week in and week out, they become massive assets.
That’s why I’m astounded Chelsea seem to think Frank Lampard isn’t capable of continuing to be influential at the club.
I have always been a great admirer of Frank Lampard and his professionalism.
I went to the Champions League final last year and Lampard was Chelsea’s best player on the pitch.
He knows he can’t sprint up and down the pitch any more, but he has changed his game and, when it comes to keeping the ball, there is nobody better.
At 34 he is just as effective as he used to be, because he has got cleverer.
Since he came back into the Chelsea side he has been outstanding, and he is still able to find the back of the net.
He is also a real leader on the pitch, something Chelsea have missed while John Terry has been out of the side.
Chelsea seem to have painted themselves into a corner by saying they don’t want him and that’s that.
I can understand why they want to change the old guard, with Didier Drogba going and Lampard and Terry getting older, but they are cutting off their nose to spite their face when players like that are so influential around the club.
It’s not just about matchdays, it’s about training every day. That’s when your classy, experienced players set the standard for the younger ones, especially the foreign imports who might not quite realise the professionalism needed at top level.
By the way, I was concerned that Vincent Kompany had his red card rescinded.
Even on replays, you couldn’t say he didn’t lunge for the ball, so I would say the FA should have been backing the referee.