England were too confident, says Gerrard

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The Independent Online

Steven Gerrard has said that the England players need to accept that they were just not good enough to win the World Cup and blamed their failure on over-confidence. The England midfielder said that after the team had been so bullish about their chances in Germany in the summer, their quarter-final exit to Portugal was embarrassing.

The Liverpool captain has also criticised the team's manager Sven Goran Eriksson for selecting Theo Walcott, claiming the teenage Arsenal striker had no right to be in the squad. Gerrard has revealed his opinions in his autobiography.

"We were not as good as we thought we were," Gerrard wrote. "On arriving in Germany, England were guilty of overconfidence. It was ours for the taking. No one was better than us. Me and the other players placed too much pressure on ourselves by constantly claiming we could win the World Cup. Stupid. In future tournaments we must learn to be humble. Be calm. We went around Germany blowing our own trumpet and returned home mute with embarrassment."

The selection of untried Walcott, 17, raised eyebrows. Gerrard argued that a few decisions had been wrong, like not taking five strikers to Germany, and that the untried Walcott should not have been included in the squad when England were embarking on an arduous World Cup campaign with only four forwards, two of whom had injury doubts. "I almost fell over when I heard. "Theo's a nice lad and one day he will mature into a very good player," Gerrard wrote. "But he had no right to be in Germany. "

Gerrard also called the the Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo "a disgrace" for his part in the sending-off of Wayne Rooney in the quarter-final against Portugal, suggesting that a dark side stained Ronaldo's game and admitting that Ronaldo's wink to the Portuguese bench after Rooney's dismissal had really got to the England players. "On the bus after the game Wayne asked me, 'What do you think about the wink?' Honestly, Wazza, if we were playing Spain and Xabi Alonso or Luis Garcia winked at the referee or gave a signal for me to be sent off, I'd never speak to them again."

When the referee Horacio Elizondo brandished a red card after Rooney had stamped on Ricardo Carvalho, Gerrard initially thought it was for a Portuguese player, only for him to realise that it was Rooney who was slowly walking off. "Players like Carvalho are damaging football, not Rooney. It's coached into them that when an incident like that happens, they go to work on the ref."

Gerrard's new manager at international level, Steve McClaren, has called for players to keep their counsel about what is said behind closed doors in the England dressing-room.

Rooney, Gerrard and Frank Lampard have all had books published in recent weeks in which they have talked about England's disappointing campaign.

McClaren said: "At times the public should not be aware of certain things. It's a case of knowing what can come out and what can't.

"I want to stress the point that a team sticks together. We don't want to over-expose what's going on, but I feel it's creeping into the game. All I think a football player should do is concentrate on their football."

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