Gerrard calms fan expectation
Captain Steven Gerrard hopes the public do not pile pressure on England in the run-up to the World Cup and stressed the Three Lions have a lot of work to do if they are to overcome the quarter-final hurdle which has obstructed them for so long.
England booked their ticket to Brazil on Tuesday night after beating Poland 2-0 in a nail-biting encounter at Wembley.
Gerrard has been part of the England set-up for 13 years so he is well-versed when it comes to failure at international tournaments.
David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen have passed through the England camp during Gerrard's time with the national squad, yet none of them have been able to guide England beyond the last eight.
Gerrard has tasted defeat at the quarter-final stage in three of the four tournaments he has played for England.
His aim, in what will be his last World Cup, is to better that in Brazil, but as the rankings suggest - England currently sit in 17th - the Three Lions will be big outsiders.
"Everyone wants to try and improve on that quarter-final, that is the hurdle we have struggled to get over," he said.
"And that is the reason why the message I want to send out is that we need to improve, keep getting stronger, if we are to get over that hurdle."
Aside from in 2008 when England failed to qualify for the European Championship, Gerrard has gone away every other summer dreaming about glory.
Yet those experiences have been tempered slightly, by the burden of expectation from a nation whose only success came almost half a century ago.
Gerrard was part of the 'Golden Generation' who got to the quarter-finals of Euro 2004 and he also helped England qualify for the World Cup two years earlier, where the team again lost out in the last eight.
From those teams, the likes of Scholes, Owen, Beckham and Ferdinand have gone while Gerrard and Frank Lampard are now entering the final years of their respective international careers.
Faith has instead been placed in emerging stars like Andros Townsend and Danny Welbeck so Gerrard is wary of rising expectations from the public.
"From my experience of going in to World Cups, people talk about golden generations and that we are one of the favourites, that this will be our year and stuff like that - that creates a false pressure, and unfair pressure because it's a very tough tournament to go in to," the 33-year-old said.
"This time around people will be more realistic.
"I think the important thing is now that people don't get carried away and start putting us with teams like Spain and thinking that everyone is fine and we are a fantastic team.
"I think we are a good team, I think we can still get better, I think we have got a good blend of youth and experience.
"Against Poland first half we were fantastic, but second half we showed we still have to improve to compete with the best."
Unlike in the previous World Cup, Gerrard feels the right ingredients are there for the campaign in Brazil to be a relaxed and enjoyable one.
John Terry questioned the tactics of then manager Fabio Capello during the 2010 tournament in South Africa while other players did not take well to the Italian's strict approach.
The team also disliked being holed up in a remote retreat in Rustenburg.
There was a clear change of tact from Hodgson when he took over. He based the squad in the centre of Krakow during Euro 2012 and plans are afoot to place the squad in the heart of Rio next summer.
"I think it is relaxed (this time) because Roy trusts his players," said Gerrard, who worked with Hodgson at Liverpool.
"He gives them free space and free time, but when we work, we work hard and if he sees anyone slacking he is on us like a ton of bricks and that is the right way to do it."
Related England News