Montenegro v England: Trash-talking Montenegro are running scared says Steven Gerrard

England dismiss jibes from World Cup opponents about arrogance and long balls as misplaced mind games

Montenegro

Steven Gerrard said tonight that England had got Montenegro "exactly where we want them" after manager Branko Brnovic produced a remarkable diatribe against Roy Hodgson's team before tonight's World Cup qualifier, accusing them of being scared and using long-ball tactics.

The England captain was responding to a press conference earlier in the day in which Brnovic accused the Football Association of arrogance because he was under the impression they had already organised friendlies in November, so confident were they of qualifying for the World Cup automatically, they had ruled out the possibility of having to go into a play-off.

Brnovic said: "I read statements from some English players about the way the pitch will look. As far as I know, it is the English who have always favoured long passes. This supports the idea that they're more scared of this game than we are."

Following torrential rain yesterday in Podgorica, Hodgson did inspect the pitch at the City Stadium before his press conference but said he thought it was in a good condition despite a patchy appearance. The England players trained on it last night with Glen Johnson, who has a toe problem, the only injury concern.

In response to Brnovic, Gerrard said: "I'm not really too interested in what they've got to say in their press conference. Or in ours, to be honest! I'm more interested in how the lads play in training and when the first whistle goes.

"With regards to his comments, it just shows we've got them exactly where we want them. They seem to be more interested in saying things and doing all the talking, but talking doesn't win you football matches. Going back to whether we play long balls, it's important to have a good mix, to play a certain way but also have a Plan B where you can go more direct."

Hodgson said that it was "definitely mind games, no doubt about that" by Brnovic but that it had "no effect on me whatsoever".

Hodgson said: "I would find it strange of anyone watching us at the moment that [long balls] is the first thing that would come into their heads. I prefer people to watch us and make their own judgements. Sometimes people like to make a comment that may have been more relevant in the past than it is today, but we have nothing to defend in that respect.

"We play the football we play. We think it is a good football. We think it is a football that will help us win matches. I don't really care too much if people want to label it long ball or short ball.

"What do they mean? People like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick – I have seen them hit magnificent 30-40 yard diagonal passes to change the point of attack. Is that what they mean by long ball game? Or does it mean that every time we get the ball we kick it up field and run after it? I don't know."

You can follow all the action from tonight's game on The Independent with our live blog by clicking here.

Brnovic rejected any suggestion his players would try to goad Wayne Rooney, sent off in the Euro 2012 qualifier in Podgorica in October 2011. He said: "As far as I know, Rooney was the one who attacked our player last time, not vice-versa. Our strikers Stevan Jovetic and Mirko Vucinic always suffer strong kicks, but they never complain."

The Juventus and Montenegro striker Vucinic, whose side lead Group H by two points, said he was surprised Hodgson selected Joleon Lescott and Chris Smalling who were not regulars for their clubs. He said: "I certainly do see that as a source of weakness because, if they do not play for their own clubs, I don't see why their national coach should pick them. I'm sure the match would be better and more interesting if [Rio Ferdinand or John Terry] played because they are certainly among the best defenders in the world today."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee