We need to play like we do for our clubs – Lampard
ENGLAND solved the identity crisis that was threatening to derail their World Cup before it began by returning to the virtues that have established the Premier League as among the best in the world.
The squad may have tur ned down Fabio Capello’s old-school offer of a beer the night before the game, but by falling back on the modern English qualities of pace and directness they delivered the win required to secure a secondround berth.
“There was an offer (of a beer) but no one took him up on it I think,” Frank Lampard said. “You can’t come away for a month and live like a monk, but it’s up to you if you take the opportunities. You don’t have 10 beers, you have one.
“But in terms of the performance, we spoke in the week about playing with a bit more passion and pace in our game and we certainly did that in the first half.
“We play that way for our clubs, that’s why people regard the English Premier League as one of the best and fear it when we play to our best and if we play with those qualities then we’ve got a great chance.”
Lampard was one of several England players whose performance was transformed from the listless display against Algeria, and he said that the dire consequences of defeat had helped focus minds in the dressing room.
“You understand when you come to these tournaments that, at this stage, though it came around early for us this year, you have to be big enough to stand up to knockout games,” he said.
“You can’t afford off days and have to be at it from the start. From the start of the game, there was a determination and there was a feeling in the crowd from the fans, who were top-class pre-game and during the game, and it ended up a good day.”
With Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney perfor ming closer to their club form, England carried greater attacking threat, but they were still reliant on a resilient display from centre-halves John Terry and Matthew Upson, the Chelsea captain’s third partner of the tournament.
Both produced crucial interventions as Slovenia pressed for an equaliser, with Upson’s block-tackle as Tim Matavz prepared to shoot in the last minute snuffing out the final threat.
“It was a reaction after the knock-down. I saw an opportunity to take it. It had to be timed right and it was. I was pleased,” he said.
“There are lots of decisions in the game in every minute and it was a reaction more than anything, I’m pleased I got away with it.”
The West Ham defender also attributed England’s success to a return to the spirit of a domestic game.