Euro 2012: Why Steven Gerrard is outstanding for England

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Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard leads England to glory against Ukraine Photo: PA Wire

In each of England's three games so far, Steven Gerrard has been invaluable.

Three crosses, leading to three headed goals and three one-nil leads. Simply put, without him England wouldn't be in the quarter finals.

Put aside his dead ball precision for a moment, his all-round play has been first class too.

As a deep lying quarter back against the French, to his more advanced, more adventurous role against the Swedes and then something in between for his man of the match performance against Ukraine.

It's not an exaggeration to say he is one of the players of the tournament so far.

Steven Gerrard 'has been the perfect captain' Credit: PA Wire

In addition his captaincy has been spot on too. Like most of the squad who were with him, he appears more relaxed than he was when wearing the armband in South Africa.

He smiles more and his pre-match press conferences are incisive, sometimes amusing and free from banalities.

You get the feeling that Roy Hodgson may have a hand in all this.

Twice as they've sat at the top table together in front of the media the new manager has answered a question and then suggested Gerrard might be able to tackle the subject differently.

Steven Gerrard with Wayne Rooney Credit: EMPICS Sport

Hodgson has given the players their heads. He's the boss yes, he's assertive but in an avuncular way, the antithesis to Fabio Capello's iron fisted autocrat.

We know the players respect him for this approach, Wayne Rooney said as much when he faced the cameras last.

Rooney talked about the squad being trusted now and how they respond to it well. What he didn't say, but clearly meant, is they're being treated like adults for a change and they're behaving like adults as a result.

Roy Hodgson's style is reaping rewards Credit: PA Wire

Whether intentional or not, Hodgson's style is reaping rewards.

International management is very much about picking the right team, about choosing the right strategy and having the courage to change a system or personnel if it isn't working.

But it's also about giving your squad the environment to thrive in. It appears Hodgson has got that right and it's clear Gerrard has benefitted more than most.