Owen: Pressure always gets to England
England striker Michael Owen believes the national side struggle to cope with pressure. England will miss their first major tournament since 1994 next year after their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign ended in disappointment last Wednesday. Croatia applied the killer blow by winning 3-2 at Wembley and Owen feels his team-mates were affected by fear. Owen, who missed the match through injury, told the News of the World: 'I keep returning to one factor when analysing what's gone wrong - fear. Or pressure. They amount to the same thing. 'We have a very demanding fans and a media who expect a great deal from the England team - and rightly so. 'How we as players cope with that is where the problems lies. 'I watched the game on Wednesday night and so often it broke down purely because of pressure. 'It came down to the pressure of making a mistake when it really mattered. If we'd won the games we should have, we wouldn't have ended up putting that kind of pressure on ourselves. It was our own fault. 'The best sportsman can deal with it, someone like Tiger Woods thrives on it. 'When you play at this high level, 99% of your performance level takes place in your head and that puts a big onus in coping mentally. 'When fear takes over, you start to do things wrong and take the easy option which in our case is lumping the ball forward to the front men. 'I'm not absolving myself from blame just because I was not playing. What must be addressed as much as anything is our psychological preparations.' Newcastle star Owen has scored 40 England goals in 88 appearances but missed the Croatia encounter after suffering a thigh injury in a friendly against Austria the previous week.