AND v/s HUNGARY
STAND-IN skipper Steven Gerrard has admitted he too would boo England if he were a fee-paying fan at Wembley tonight.
Just weeks after leading England’s dismal World Cup campaign in South Africa, Gerrard is bracing himself for an unsavoury reaction from a half-full stadium for tonight’s friendly with Hungary.
Gerrard once again takes the armband from injured captain Rio Ferdinand and yesterday followed the lead of boss Fabio Capello in publicly apologising for his side’s pitiful World Cup performances.
And the 30-year-old knows his side are in for a ride rough from a nation still hurting from England’s humiliating 4-1 second-round exit to Germany.
“I probably would boo,” Gerrard admitted. “We deserve it. We have to take it on the chin because we let the supporters down in the summer. Hopefully in time we can show we are a good team. We are desperate to make the supporters happy in the future.”
Despite his honest admission, Gerrard is keen to shield Capello’s new guard from the baying fans and allow them help kick-start a brand new era for this England side.
Young Arsenal pair Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs are both in line for their first run-outs for the Three Lions, as is the more experienced Bobby Zamora, who is expected to start up front alongside Wayne Rooney after Darren Bent pulled out the squad with a back injury.
“Some of these young boys have to learn quite fast,” said Gerrard. “We have all been in that situation when you are young and get thrown in at the deep end. The important thing is that the supporters don’t drag these young fresh faces into the booing.
“If that is what they decide to do it is important they give it to the players who went to the World Cup.”
Naturally, Capello hasn’t escaped criticism either for England’s World Cup display and has in turn endured an embarrassing week following the retirements of Paul Robinson and Wes Brown.
But Gerrard insists both he and the rest of the squad have faith in the manager and insists he should not be chastised for what happened in South Africa.
“I have got big faith in this manager,” he said. “It would be stupid and naive not to still have confidence in him. In these situations, you cannot shift all the blame towards the manager. The players have to share it.
“It was obvious to everyone that it didn't work out at the World Cup, so we have to listen to the man who has the experience in those situations and follow his lead.”