Gerrard: Win was a 'statement'
Published : 04 Sep 2010 14:00:43
Steven Gerrard insists England's World Cup ills have not been cured overnight but claims the 4-0 thumping of Bulgaria was a "statement" of intent from his side.
Gerrard captained his country to their biggest victory since a 5-1 thrashing of Croatia almost a year earlier as their European Championship qualifying campaign got off to a flying start. The Croatia win was the high point of Fabio Capello's tenure as manager, after which England's form began to dip alarmingly, culminating in a debacle of a World Cup.
Gerrard said: "We've made a statement. I've said, after the disappointment of the World Cup, it's going to take time before this team can be really ready to challenge the big sides."
The man who epitomised England's performance on Friday night was team talisman Wayne Rooney.
After some early reminders of his World Cup horror show against Algeria, the Manchester United star's confidence began to return, and after having a hand in four goals, he was looking like the Rooney of old.
So while acknowledging Jermain Defoe had "stolen the headlines" with his first England hat-trick, Gerrard was keen to steer some of the plaudits in the direction of his fellow Liverpudlian.
"It's important not just to give Jermain all the credit," he said, describing the Tottenham striker as "lethal".
"Wayne got all the assists, so I think the partnership worked - that was the key. From front to back, we were superb all over the pitch."
A combination of poor finishing from the visitors and excellent goalkeeping from Joe Hart on his competitive debut helped the home side preserve a clean sheet.
Gerrard said of Hart: "I think he's made the number one spot his own. His last two performances have been superb."