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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 30, 2006

Gerrard: World Cup woe will spur on England

Steven Gerrard insists England will respond to the pain of their World Cup heartbreak.

Gerrard pulled no punches on his return from Germany as he criticised England's attitude. He claimed they were overhyped and overconfident but expects the future to be different.

Gerrard said: 'What I've noticed from everyone still here from the World Cup is that everyone wants to use that experience to drive us on in the future.

'You could see in the performance against Greece a team that is still desperate to prove itself at this level.

'The squad are excited. It's a fresh start for everyone. The manager has told us that in a meeting.'

Steve McClaren's new era started in style with a 4-0 win in a friendly against Greece earlier this month.

All the goals came in the first half as the players took out their frustrations on the shell-shocked European champions.

Minnows Andorra, ranked 132nd in the world, are next in line and England fans will expect more goals at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Gerrard said: 'The most important thing is to qualify but I think the fans have been frustrated with the performances and we want to try to win with style, play with freedom and relax.

'There is always going to be a great amount of pressure on this team because of the quality of players in the squad.'

McClaren took his players to a comedy club in Manchester yesterday to help them bond.

Gerrard said: 'It got us giggling and got us together, the manager wants to create a club atmosphere around the place.'

The Liverpool captain was overlooked by McClaren for the England armband.

John Terry will lead the team under the new manager but Gerrard has been named as vice-captain.

He remains a crucial figure in the side and was moved onto the right of midfield against Greece in a bid to maximise his attacking threat.

Gerrard said: 'I enjoyed the role. It was similar to the role Rafa Benitez asked me to play for a couple of years at Liverpool.

'The gaffer has told me he's going to ask me to play different roles and different formations so I'll be ready for them as well.'

McClaren will encourage Gerrard to forge inside from the right flank and collect knock-downs from his club-mate Peter Crouch.

Liverpool striker Crouch took his England goal tally to eight in 12 games with a double against the Greeks and Gerrard enjoys linking up with him.

Gerrard said: 'He's a player I appreciate playing with.

'He has to deal with some difficult balls played up to him and he does a fantastic job holding the ball up and bringing other players into play.

'I got a lot of my goals last year off Peter's play. He's had criticism at club level and international level and he's proving everyone wrong.

'It's great to see. He's a good mate of mine and long may it continue for him.'

Gerrard finds himself back at Old Trafford on Saturday for the first time since he revealed his feelings about rivals Manchester United in his book, which has been serialised in a Sunday paper.

The Scouser said he was brought up in Liverpool to hate United and admits he wants them to 'die' for 90 minutes when he is up against them.

He also slammed United winger Cristiano Ronaldo for his role in Wayne Rooney's red card in the World Cup quarter-final against Portugal.

United fans are unlikely to give him a warm welcome but he expects them to understand his sentiments.

Gerrard said: 'The headlines in the serialisation were a little bit strong.

'What I said is that I have fantastic respect for Manchester United but, when I cross the white line against them, I want desperately to win that game and I'll do anything in my power to win it. I'd like to clear that up.'

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