England’s Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen have given Steve McClaren a boost by backing the beleaguered manager to carry on even if England fail to reach Euro 2008.
McClaren’s job is on the line as England face the prospect of failing to reach a major tournament finals for the first time since the 1994 World Cup.
But Gerrard insisted that the players believe former Middlesbrough boss McClaren deserved to be given more time in the role.
“I’m certainly backing the manager,” Gerrard said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in him, I’ve enjoyed working with him and speaking to the other players I’m sure they feel the same.
“There is no point changing managers every five months or every year. You need continuity and I feel we are moving in the right direction.”
Owen echoed Gerrard’s comments and claimed that McClaren enjoyed the support of the entire squad.
“I think every player you would ask would back the manager, that is a natural thing to do,” Owen said.
“We think he is the right man for the job. All this talk of going to (FA Chief Executive) Brian Barwick is paper talk but I think every player will come out and say they hope the manager stays.”
If Russia beat Israel on Saturday, England’s chances of reaching next year’s finals will have been virtually extinguished and McClaren is expected to be fired within hours of the final group match against Croatia.
“It could be a difficult week,” Owen admitted. “We have got to try to block out quite a lot of things and be in the right mental and physical state so if anything was to go for us on Saturday then we will be in the right frame of mind to go on and do our best on the Wednesday,” said the Newcastle star.
“It is all about preparing right and being in the right frame of mind to pounce.
“We had some sticky results at the start of the qualification campaign, but certainly in the last half dozen games there has been a massive improvement,” Owen emphasised.
“We won five of them 3-0 and played some very good football in the process. We had that one hiccup in Russia where we had a mad five minutes but apart from that results have been on a steady upward curve over the last few months.”