England Coach Gary Neville tells FATV about his San Marino approach
By Peter Glynn
Gary Neville admits he used to ‘scare himself’ before games like Friday’s 2014 World Cup qualifier against San Marino.
The England Coach revealed his method for combating complacency ahead of the Three Lions' sold-out Wembley clash.
And he stressed Roy Hodgson’s men are under no illusions about the importance of preparing themselves for the showdown in the correct manner.
He said: “As a player, I always used to scare myself before a game like this by thinking ‘what happens if we don’t do our job?’
“You have to respect every opponent and be professional and do the right things. I am sure that on Friday that will be the message that the Manager, coaches and the players themselves will be giving each other.”
Although the visitors arrive at Wembley having lost 108 of their 114 internationals, Neville is fully aware of the perils of ill-preparation.
He added: “The players know the headlines when something goes wrong and it is something that you guard against.”
But the Manchester United legend believes the expectation of victory on England’s shoulders will eliminate any potential pitfalls.
He said: “That is what fires you up and motivates you and makes sure that complacency doesn’t kick in, because it is important that England win football matches.
“San Marino on Friday at home is a game that everyone, including ourselves, expects us to win.”
As well as guarding against complacency, England’s most capped right-back underlined the importance of creativity.
He said: “We have to open every team up whether they ‘park the bus’ or not. They will not be the first team to come to Wembley and defend in numbers.
“In games this like it might not go for you in the first minute, or the first five minutes or first 25 minutes.
“It is something I think is important in all football matches, but certainly a team like San Marino will come and defend and try to catch us on the break.”
Neville was also quick to praise The FA’s opening of St. George’s Park – the national football centre which was officially opened by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Tuesday.
The Royal pair met with the England squad as Hodgson’s squad trained at the facility for the first time.
Neville has previously poured praise on the complex and the glowing impression hasn’t faded.
He added: “I’ve said before that I haven’t seen anything set up like this for football players in terms of the quality of the facilities, which is absolutely brilliant.
“The close proximity of the hotel, the eating facilities, everything is what you would want in what you would call a ‘football camp.’”
As well as providing a training home for England’s 24 teams the 330-acre facility will also be used to host all The FA’s National Coach Education courses.
GARY NEVILLE was speaking in the build-up to The FA and McDonald’s Community Awards. The prizes recognise the coaches, volunteers and clubs who dedicate their time to the grassroots game.