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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

McClaren pleads for fans' support at Wembley

Steve McClaren has called for a united front as England build themselves up for Wednesday's make-or-break Euro 2008 clash with Croatia.

Quite apart from the pundits who have condemned him at virtually every turn since his appointment as successor to Sven-Goran Eriksson, McClaren knows England's fans have been less than supportive on occasion too.

Frank Lampard and David Bentley have been the target of individual abuse recently, while McClaren himself was subjected to some of the worst attacks ever suffered by an England manager as his side laboured to victory over the part-timers of Andorra in March.

However, he is now demanding personal issues are set aside for the benefit of his side in an effort to make sure England make the most of the lifeline tossed to them this weekend by Israel and gain the point required to sweep them into next summer's European Championship finals.

'It is absolutely key to get everybody behind this team,' said McClaren.

'We need all other agendas put away and left until after the game.

'We have to ensure the build-up so positive. Where do we want to be next summer? In Austria and Switzerland. We can all help in that.

'We have already seen, against Israel and Russia at Wembley, what can happen when the people are behind the players. We need more of that on Wednesday.'

McClaren dismisses the notion his side are fortunate to find themselves in such a healthy position after collecting only one point from their three tough away games.

He could point to a number of instances, the controversial game-changing penalty in Moscow following a foul by Wayne Rooney that was clearly outside the box, plus a repeatedly chronic injury list, as clear evidence luck has frequently not favoured him.

Yet McClaren does acknowledge the situation is better than he could have dreamed of as he headed out of a snowy Vienna on Friday night and he is anxious the gilt-edged opportunity to return to Austria, or Switzerland even, should not be squandered now.

'I have believed from the beginning of the tournament that we would need a result from the Croatia game to go through,' he said.

'But there is absolutely no way we can give this chance away.

'This is it. This is the last game. There are no excuses.

'We have got ourselves into this position. We are in control. There are no excuses now. We have to get the job done.'

A clean sheet is all England need now but history suggests settling for a goalless stalemate is not really an option.

Instead, McClaren will try to instil in his players a positive attitude, that sees them attempt to record a victory they do not actually require.

'I feel we deserve to qualify,' he said.

'But it is not about what I think, it is what we do that counts.

'If we keep a clean sheet, we will go through but we have to be positive and we have to try and win.

'That is what has got us results during the second half of the campaign and we must continue that way.

'It is not in England's nature to play for a draw.'