If anyone can empathise with what England’s Euro 2016 flops are going through at the moment, it’s Steven Gerrard.
The former Liverpool star played 114 times for his country and suffered multiple disappointments at major international tournaments.
Gerrard has tried to explain why England have failed to perform at this summer’s European Championships in his latest column for the Telegraph - but it’s not all doom and gloom according to the LA Galaxy midfielder.
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The 36-year-old refused to pin the blame solely on his former coach Roy Hodgson, who resigned following Monday’s shock 2-1 defeat to Iceland, although he admits a new “top-class manager” would help England to beat teams of the calibre of Iceland.
Gerrard revealed that he’s never felt “so down as an England supporter” but added: “we have to act constructively to make sure it never happens again. And we have to be careful before we write off the idea we have any talent. We need to nurture it before the next World Cup, not kill it.”
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Gerrard: 5 players who can deliver for England
The Premier League legend named five current members of the England squad who, in his opinion, are “top players” capable of producing the goods for England at major tournaments in the future.
“This team did not lose to Iceland because of a lack of talent,” Gerrard commented. “Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Dele Alli. Don’t tell me these are not top players who can deliver for England in the future. Don’t tell me the players don’t care, or that they will not have been sitting in that dressing room absolutely devastated by what has happened.”
Wayne Rooney? Really?
Rooney’s inclusion is likely to raise a few eyebrows.
Now 30, the Manchester United and England captain was one of the worst-performing players on the pitch against Iceland and his best years, it seems, are now well behind him.
Hodgson’s successor - which is likely to be Gareth Southgate in the interim - has a difficult decision to make over Rooney ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
The other four on Gerrard’s list are all young and talented enough to make an impact at future tournaments, but are England cursed?
Gerrard: 'The pressure is another level'
“This is not a defence of the players, but having been in this situation, made mistakes of my own and been part of disappointing England performances at tournaments I can only tell you what it is like to feel so powerless on a football pitch,” Gerrard adds.
“It is a different level to club football, where if you lose a big game there is usually never too long to get out there and make amends.
“You can refocus quickly. With England, you know your chance is gone for another two years and the criticism will be ferocious. You know the eyes of the world are on you. The pressure is another level. I saw young players who could not cope with that. To go out in a major tournament to a favourite is hard enough to take, but Iceland? I could not believe what I was seeing at times, but I have to say the warning signs were there for me in the group games.”
Can Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney, Raheem Sterling, John Stones and Dele Alli deliver the England? Have your say by leaving a comment below.