FROM the very moment the final whistle blew in Rustenburg on Saturday, England’s players will have been yearning to get back on the pitch today against Algeria.
Whether they have been training, playing table tennis and darts, going on visits to schools or taking in the other games on television, time will have been dragging horribly.
In both of the World Cups that I was part of – Mexico 1986 (right) and Italy 1990 – we did not get off to the best of starts, and I can remember how eager everyone was to play the next match and put that right.
What is important is that Fabio Capello and the rest of the management nurture that build-up of desire in the right way, so that everyone is geared up to perform at the right time.
Much has been written and said about England since the draw with USA, but from my experience I think players will be determined to ignore the reaction of the media and the public.
There is likely to be something of a siege mentality in the camp, and that will suit
England, since that is often when they are at their best.
Particularly in ’86, when we had to win our last group game against Poland to progress, we did it by having a strong mentality.
That’s what they will need this evening and I expect England to bully Algeria off the park, rather than outplay them.
The one positive right now is that it really doesn’t matter how you get to the knockout rounds. Mark my words, as long as you get through, no-one ever remembers the group games.
My advice to the players is: be aggressive and determined, don’t lose your confidence, and concentrate on being solid and professional for the full 90 minutes.