Gerrard warns of exit agony
Steven Gerrard has warned his England team-mates they are likely to be in for a long and miserable summer if they do not beat Uruguay on Thursday.
Gerrard, along with vice-captain Frank Lampard and manager Roy Hodgson, addressed the squad at their hotel 24 hours after the 2-1 defeat to Italy and the message from the skipper was clear.
Gerrard told the 22 attentive faces in the audience that they, for the most part, played well in Manaus, but he also reminded them that they are now on the brink of World Cup elimination.
If England lose against Uruguay, only a highly unlikely set of circumstances will allow them to progress, while a draw would leave the Three Lions needing a favour from Italy in the final group game.
"It was important for them to realise what is at stake and how important this game is," the England captain said.
"We have got a must-win scenario.
"It wasn't a message to scare any of the lads but a wake-up call to everyone in the room - the staff and the players."
Gerrard was the perfect man to deliver that message.
After all, he knows better than anyone in the squad what it is like to go home from a major tournament early.
The list of premature exits in Gerrard's international career is as long as it is disappointing. In Euro 2000, he was part of Kevin Keegan's squad that failed to make it out of their group. He then experienced heartbreaking back-to-back penalty shoot-out defeats in 2004 and 2006.
And his last two tournaments have ended in disappointing second-round exits.
"It could be a terrible long, frustrating summer if we don't get it right on Thursday," the Liverpool midfielder said.
"There is no hiding place for a player when you go out of a tournament.
"It can be tough as a player and it can take an awful long time to get over it.
"I have been there. I know what that feeling is about and that is the feeling that I don't want come Friday morning.
"We need everyone focused and right on it on Thursday, otherwise it will be a terrible, long summer."
Gerrard may have been hypothesising a doomsday scenario in his speech, but there is no suggestion he does not believe his team-mates can get the job done in Sao Paulo.
And he expects the same attacking mentality from them again in Sao Paulo on Thursday.
"I know what is going to happen going forward," Gerrard said.
"That is a gimme with the attacking talent we have got in this group.
"We have belief and confidence from our attacking play against Italy, and I believe will cause our next two opponents endless problems."
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