Having done his best to put the disappointment of falling just short of the title behind him, Steven Gerrard is looking forward to the World Cup with England this summer and with it the chance to surprise a few people. Despite being counted out by many, Gerrard believes this England side has the talent to do more than is expected of them.
"We have the talent and ability in the squad," he said. "If we get that bit of luck we can surprise a few. The first aim is to get off to a good start against Italy, [so] what’s important is we try to put on a good show in the three friendly matches and try to gain some early belief and confidence. Hopefully that has a snowball effect going into the tournament."
Having recently made a habit of heading into tournaments with high expectations only to crash out in disappointing fashion, this time around there is far less expectation for England to do well. Yet a side built around a core of Liverpool players who outpaced expectations at the club level this past season has some wondering if England couldn't do the same.
"There is no bigger game for us to start against Italy," Gerrard added. "We go in as underdogs, of course, the Italians are a very experienced squad and have proved they are capable of going to the end. We certainly don’t fear them, we respect them, but we feel we can go there create a shock in the first game which would be so big for this country."
Friendlies against Peru, Ecuador, and Honduras will go a long way towards showing if Gerrard is right to be confident. Perhaps most importantly, they will also show if manager Roy Hodgson can figure out the best way to get results out of a surprisingly technical and attacking England squad or if he instead falls back on familiar names and defensive tactics.
Players like Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Ross Barkley along with a strong core of Liverpool players offer the promise of a different sort of England to the one seen even in World Cup qualification. Yet they along with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson could end up behind the old guard in Brazil.
Gerrard's right when he says this is an England side with the talent to surprise more than a few. It's also an England side that, in practice, could end up delivering more of the same when the time comes to kick off their tournament against Italy.