Gerrard warns England of the perils of defeat
Gerrard reminds team of the pain of crashing out in World Cup
URUGUAY v ENGLAND
(Tomorrow, 3am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
Steven Gerrard has warned England's young hopes. Defeats come and go, but the pain persists.
The Three Lions could get knocked out of the World Cup, but the world will not leave them alone.
Lose against Uruguay tomorrow morning (Singapore time) and they won't be allowed to live it down. There will be no respite from the recriminations.
"The message has been quite clear from me to the younger players in the camp this week. I know the pain of going out in World Cups," the England skipper said at the final press conference this morning before the crunch Group D game.
"I know the pain and I don't want to repeat it. I've made the young lads aware of how difficult the summer will be if we fail. I have reiterated that point to them."
For that reason, the 34-year-old will not countenance failure. He refuses to compromise. He brushed aside my suggestion that England might have to put safety before their attacking policy.
"I was very impressed with our attacking intent against Italy," he stressed.
"We could have finished better, but we won't change. We will see another good attacking performance from us. That's why I think we'll win, as long as we shore up the defence."
Both Roy Hodgson and Gerrard acknowledged a solid defensive performance is imperative against the nemesis-in-waiting who has been tipped to start by Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez.
Luis Suarez will face his old friend. But Gerrard is in no mood to play happy Liverpool families with his Anfield comrade.
"I'm not going to speak to Suarez two hours before the game," he said.
"That would be disrespectful to my teammates. Yes, we are good friends. We've had some banter in the build-up, but there will be no communication tomorrow."
In an admirable attempt at reverse psychology, Gerrard tried to play down the striker's value.
He said: "Suarez is a genius; a wonderful player. It's a boost for his team and fans, but they are more than one player. We respect him and his team, but we have a game plan in place to win this game."
Hodgson had little to complain about this morning, after the Three Lions completed a light training session.
Not surprisingly, the session offered little beyond Gary Neville's voice drowning out the incessant drilling around the unfinished stadium, barking at his charges to move faster between the shuttle runs.
During a one-touch passing drill, however, one side looked suspiciously like the one expected to face Uruguay.
Gerrard and Jordan Henderson played at the base with Daniel Sturridge at the apex and Raheem Sterling floating. Wayne Rooney occupied the left side.
It's never wise to read too much into a training session that was only open to the media for the first 15 minutes.
Sterling, Sturridge and Rooney all swopped positions and the suspicion among the media here is that Sterling and Rooney will swop places against the Uruguayans.
Sterling is likely to be tasked with digging a trench through the South Americans' shaky foundations on the left, where Uruguay will miss their suspended right back Maxi Pereira.
His skipper has no doubt about the 19-year-old's potential to damage Uruguay.
"At the risk of putting even more pressure on him, he's very young, he's very consistent and he's capable of creating goals for us tomorrow," said Gerrard.
The skipper betrayed a little anxiety when he admitted that his preparations would occupy every waking thought until kick-off.
Experience provides a pressure valve, but that doesn't mean Gerrard can switch off.
"It's very difficult to forget about it all together," he said.
"I'll be on the iPad doing more study on the opposition this evening. I have belief in my teammates, but there's still room for more preparation. But I'm confident we'll come out winners."
"I know the pain and I don’t want to repeat it. I’ve made the young lads aware of how difficult the summer will be if we fail."
— England skipper Steven Gerrard
Lallana should start: Hoddle
BETTER CHOICE: Adam Lallana (above) offers more than Jordan Henderson in midfield, says Glenn Hoddle. PHOTO: AFP
England should use Adam Lallana from the start to give them greater attacking options against Uruguay in their World Cup Group D clash in Sao Paulo tomorrow morning (Singapore time), former national team manager Glenn Hoddle said.
That one change would completely alter the shape of the team that was beaten by Italy in their opener and revamp the way they could play, according to Hoddle.
"It would, in my opinion, make all the difference," he said.
"I would have Steven Gerrard sitting in front of the back four, and ahead of him Wayne Rooney and Adam Lallana - replacing Jordan Henderson - with Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling in the side positions."
That change would create a "V" formation, with Gerrard at the point, and Rooney and Lallana at the two prongs, allowing Rooney to burst forward, with Lallana sitting alongside Gerrard, or Lallana to break forward with Rooney dropping back into midfield.
"One goes in, one stays," Hoddle said.
However, England manager Roy Hodgson is likely to be happy with the way his team played despite their 2-1 defeat, and will surely be tempted to start with the same 11, Hoddle said in a column for British bookmaker William Hill.
"Apart from maybe switching Rooney and Sterling (Rooney inside and Sterling on to the wing), I don't believe Roy will change the starting 11," he said.
"Sterling was great in that No. 10 role, it has to be said, but it also proved to be England's Achilles' heel as it left Leighton Baines badly exposed against Italy.
"In effect, with Sterling and Welbeck defending when England are not in possession, there would be four across midfield with Gerrard behind, giving more protection by not being outnumbered in midfield."
Hoddle said switching Rooney and Sterling would pay double dividends - by getting Rooney more central where he is more effective, and by Sterling affording Baines more cover.
"Baines needs someone in front of him to give him protection and Sterling has the young legs to run up and down the flank to fill in that hole that was left against Italy which they exposed brilliantly," he said. - Reuters.