Wednesday, June 23, 2010
we will make the nation proud...
Steven Gerrard vows England 'wants to make the nation proud' with victory over Slovenia.
The midfielder insists the players have a "hunger and desire" to make amends for the woeful performance during the goalless draw with Algeria on Friday.
England have to beat current Group C leaders Slovenia to make sure of their place in the last 16 and Gerrard knows there has to be a significant improvement.
The Liverpool captain wants a return to the form demonstrated during the qualifying campaign when Fabio Capello's side won nine of their 10 matches.
The 30-year-old said: "It is a do-or-die situation. We need to perform, we need to improve on the last performance.
"The training was very sharp and hopefully everyone can do the business.
"In the last performance, we didn't do what we did in the qualifying games.
"In those, we were confident, played aggressive football, pressed really well and were also very compact and difficult to beat.
"There were things missing from the Algerian performance and tomorrow we want to get those back.
"We want to start the game really well, play compact and be difficult to beat, but also have the cutting edge in the final third to score goals."
Gerrard also feels deeply the need to placate the thousands of England fans in South Africa after the final whistle against Algeria was greeted with boos.
He said: "We have come into this tournament with big expectations, we have big support out here.
"People have paid good money and expect us to win football matches. We as players take responsibility for under-performing in the last game.
"The idea is to put in a good performance, win the game and change the perception of how we have done so far.
"We want to make the nation proud and happy and a good win can give the players more confidence."
Gerrard added: "You can see the players hurt from the Algerian performance. We let the country down by under-performing and I can see the hunger in the guys.
"We can't wait for the game to start to put it right.
"We haven't enjoyed the criticism, the last couple of days, and that feeling you get when you haven't done yourself justice."
Much of the pre-match talks has been about John Terry's comments at Sunday's media conference in which he intimated the players would want Capello to make changes to tactics and the line-up.
But Gerrard is adamant the game is all that he is focused on.
He said: "I've watched John's interview and he is obviously a passionate player.
"He said what he said but it is time to move on.
"We've got a very important game and it is important as captain that I switch my attention and focus to this game."
Terry indicated he would like to see Joe Cole restored to the starting line-up but Gerrard is adamant no pressure has been put on Capello to pick the former Chelsea player.
He said: "Not at all. the manager picks the team he thinks is best to do the job.
"I don't think the players are in any position to question who the manager picks.
"Whoever he picks, we go with that and give it our best shot."
Gerrard also played down suggestions that the domestic season had taken its toll on the squad after a month long build-up to the tournament.
He said: "It is a long season in England but we look fresh and hungry in training and we are performing well.
"We need to translate that on to the pitch - starting tomorrow."