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Sep 2, 2010

Gerrard warns sacking Capello would be 'crazy'

Steven Gerrard has warned that sacking Fabio Capello would be a "crazy" and "knee-jerk" reaction amid mounting press pressure.

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England qualified for the World Cup in some style under Capello and the Italian had enjoyed widespread support in the media prior to the tournament, but the dismal showing in South Africa has led to calls for him to be replaced by an Englishman.

It is a similar situation to that which followed the 2006 World Cup failure under Swedish coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and, given that Capello has won Serie A five times, La Liga twice and the Champions League once, Gerrard feels there is no English coach available who can compare.

"It's important Fabio is still given a chance," he said. "Who out there, that's an English manager, has the CV Fabio Capello has got? It would be a knee-jerk reaction to sack a manager after one bad tournament then think everything will be rosy when you start with a new guy and we'll go on and win the Euros. That's crazy. It's crazy to think it's as easy as that.

"I wanted him to stay. I have a lot of belief in him. To be honest, I don't know if everyone's totally, 100% behind him because I can't control what's going through every player's mind, but I've not seen or heard anything to make me think they're not.

"Everyone's desperate to put things right together. There's a lot of blame going towards the manager, but it was the players who underperformed out there at the World Cup. People talk about tactics and stuff, but there's only so much a manager can do - players have to deliver and the players never delivered in Africa.

"Everyone knows in football that the manager usually gets the blame if things don't go well but, for me, we should get behind him."

There have been calls for Capello to make changes - including abandoning his 4-4-2 formation and changing his approach to man-management - but Gerrard says the Italian is unmoved by the talk.

"Criticism doesn't seem to affect him," he said. "He's not changed. His routines are similar, training's similar. We've been through the mistakes we made and the things we need to do to improve.

"He has a lot of experience and he's handling it quite well. It's up to the players to ease the pressure and take the focus off him and make us a better team, more successful."

England take on Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday in their first Euro 2012 qualifier before heading to Switzerland on Tuesday, and Gerrard believes England need to rebuild their morale with two victories.

"Hopefully we can get two good results and start slowly building for the future," he said. "It's a similar situation to when we didn't qualify for the Euros under Steve McClaren, which was a low moment. It's going to take time to recover.

"Hopefully the booing is behind us now and we can give a good performance. We certainly have the exciting players in the squad to get off to a winning start. We qualified really well for the World Cup playing good attacking football and, if we can put in a good performance and take maximum points, we will go into the next game with confidence."

Meanwhile, Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov says his side will not just be looking for a point against England.

"We are not coming to Wembley just to defend," he said. "In a game like this, a win for us would be the perfect result but we hope not to lose. We have to fight to achieve that goal but we will try to play football and, in a game like this, you never know."

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