With the memories of the Three Lions’ Euro 2008 failure still fresh in the memory, the captain has described the upcoming World Cup qualifiers as a “critical week” for the country
Steven Gerrard has underlined the importance of England’s World Cup qualifying double-header against Montenegro and Poland, insisting the squad must “go out and deliver”.
The Three Lions currently sit on top of Group H, one point ahead of Ukraine, knowing they must win on Friday and next Tuesday to be sure of a place at next summer’s tournament.
“This is as critical a week as English football has known for a long time,” Gerrard told the Daily Mirror. “There’s a lot of expectations, from the fans, the media and in and among the group as well.
“Everyone wants to be at this World Cup, so it is very critical. We need to go out and deliver. It doesn’t come much bigger than this.
“We all know how much the supporters want it. Also for the country itself it would be a disaster if England weren’t in the World Cup, especially in Brazil.
“I don’t like using the word ‘disaster’ or ‘catastrophe’, but the Brazil World Cup is going to be so big. Individually and collectively, we all want to be there.”
Gerrard knows all too well what it is like not to qualify for a major tournament after England failed to reach Euro 2008, and the captain is desperate to avoid a repeat.
“It’s too grim a thought to even contemplate,” Gerrard added. “I don’t want to think about those things, certainly in the build-up to these games.
“The main focus for me is trying to be as positive as I can, trying to be upbeat and look forward to trying to win these games rather than the worst-case scenarios.
“As a group of players, and individually, we’re all going to be judged over the next week or so. I expect that and that’s fine. It’s down to us now.”