Nerves not a bad thing - Hodgson
England manager Roy Hodgson will approach Friday night's opening World Cup qualifier in Moldova with a sense of nervousness.
It is Hodgson's first qualification game since succeeding Fabio Capello as Three Lions boss in May. Whilst he may bristle at the thought, the safety net that hung underneath Hodgson at Euro 2012 has been removed. And, as his side take their first steps towards Brazil 2014, Hodgson admits there will be worries. Not that he views it as a bad thing.
"If you ever lose that nervousness, you lose a lot of the qualities that have driven you to become a coach or footballer," he said. "It's part and parcel of being a footballer or a manager at a good level. You feel nervous. You are aware of the expectations. You don't want to let anyone down. But I've been nervous before the other games as well."
He added: "The fact it's a match involving England that interests so many in the country; you feel that responsibility to get the result you're looking for."
In a group containing Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine, plus a dangerous Montenegro outfit that held England to a couple of draws in qualification for the European Championship, booking a ticket to Brazil is not going to be as straightforward as many people think.
"A World Cup in Brazil has a slightly greater allure than a World Cup in some of the other countries where it's been held recently," Hodgson said. "We know what we have to do. We're going to try to do it. But this is football. You don't get what you want by talking about it and saying the right things. You have to be good enough.
"We all accept that. We're an experienced group of players - some up towards 100 caps, so they don't need reminding there are plenty of banana skins out there. If you don't hit that level, you'll be criticised."
Hodgson has declared himself satisfied with the pitch, which looks a bit odd and does require a cut prior to kick-off.
And a strange training session, which featured no actual match, seemed to be focused on getting balls into the box from flank positions - a typically English trait but one for which, in the absence of Andy Carroll, Hodgson does not have an obvious exponent. It plays to a stereotype, though - a Moldovan one, at any rate.
"We scored off a few of them, didn't we?" said Gerrard, with Hodgson moving in for the follow-up. "You've got to remember the first 10 or 12 years of my coaching career was spent defending the English game to the Swedes, saying that we don't just play kick and rush football. I spent 12 years doing that. I'm not going to respond to Moldovan criticism now."
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