England captain Steven Gerrard insists boss Roy Hodgson is right not to be drawn into the debate about his country’s chances of winning the World Cup.
New English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke’s claim this week that nobody expects England to win the next year World Cup in Brazil triggered a storm of complaints on the eve of two crucial qualifiers for Hodgson’s team against Moldova and Ukraine.
Dyke believes England’s hopes of winning in Brazil are a ‘doomed mission’ even if they do qualify from Group H.
But Hodgson made it clear he didn’t want to be drawn into a lengthy debate about Dyke’s views when he was quizzed at a press conference on Thursday.
“We don’t see it that way,” Hodgson insisted. “None of us, with the team, ever saw it in that way. We don’t believe our chairman sees anything as a doomed mission.
“He also said in his speech how much he supports the team and hopes we get to Brazil and do well.
“I don’t think he’s giving up on the team. That would be harsh on him and even harsher on the team.”
And Liverpool midfielder Gerrard was also diplomatic when he said: “I think realistically everyone in the room knows we’re not going to be one of the bookies’ favourites to win the World Cup.
“But it doesn’t mean we can’t get there and have a successful tournament to make the country proud. But, look, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Our priority is to get there first.”
Gerrard had chosen this week to reveal he is thinking of a career in coaching once he retires and he jokingly hinted he might do a U-turn after witnessing the Dyke controversy.
“I may change my mind after this,” Gerrard added.
Gerrard, who at the age of 33 has won 103 England caps, had always said in the past he was unlikely to end up in a manager’s dug-out, but now it seems he is set to do so when he finally retires.
“I want to stay in the game,” he said. “It would be a dream to get that opportunity. If I’m good enough, if Liverpool came, I’d love to do that,” he said.
“I’ve been studying all the managers since I was a young age, the sessions they do and the tactics, making notes on things, because I love the game.
“When my playing days are over I’d love to stay involved. Whether that’s a coach or manager we’ll see, but I’ll definitely start my coaching badges.”
For now his focus is on continuing his England career on the pitch, having defied his critics by playing 52 games for Liverpool last season and keeping injury at bay.
“I want to play on for as long as I can, I want to contribute and still have a say on the pitch,” he said.
“I’ve felt great for the last few years. That’s down to the Liverpool and England medical staffs and to my recovery programmes for games.”
Hodgson was set to use Gerrard alongside Chelsea’s Frank Lampard in the two qualifiers and the Liverpool star expected the plan to succeed despite accusations that the duo cannot play well together.
“I think then we were in a 4-4-2 formation and this time you’ll find it’s different,” Gerrard said.
“Me and Frank like playing with each other and we’re confident we can do the job.”