The Blackpool manager and former England World Cup star gives us an insight into
The Blackpool manager and former England World Cup star gives us an insight into how England will cope with the pressure of Saturday's Euro 2004 decider in Istanbul...
The Steve McMahon Column
One of the hardest things about meeting up with your England team-mates was that you had probably been bouncing off each other on a Saturday afternoon as club rivals.
From being 'enemies' you suddenly had to work with each other and make sure everything is lovey-dovey!
But by the time kick-off had arrived and you put on the England jersey, all you can feel is togetherness and a fantastic buzz about representing your country.
The boys will get exactly the same feeling in Istanbul on Saturday as I did in my career, including the 1990 World Cup.
I remember a mega-game in Sweden where we couldn't afford to get beaten in order to qualify for the 1990 World Cup.
Terry Butcher ended up with a bandage around his head and his shirt splattered with blood. That is how much it meant.
It's a real shame other business other than football got in the way of preparations early in the week.
But once the plane left for Turkey on Thursday, the England boys focus turned to only one thing - the match.
There's been plenty of the wrong sort of headlines this week but knowing the mentality of footballers, I don't think they will use the build-up as any kind of excuse for what happens on Saturday.
The side will need 11 captains out in Istanbul. David Beckham sets a good example by doing the right things as captain but from personal experience it shouldn't matter if you wear the armband or not - you should be cajoling and encouraging your team-mates in any case.
Michael Owen isn't going to be in Turkey of course. I am sure Sven Goran Eriksson will have his own views on what to do, if it were my choice I would pair Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney together up front. Heskey would be there to take a bit of pressure off with his size and physique. He is a strong, powerful lad and he will cause Turkey problems. Rooney has strength and cuteness; he can handle the big stage and will need to stay cool because there will be all kinds of dirty tricks on the pitch, and it will be hostile.
The rules in international football are a little different and you have to adapt. You can't raise your foot above the ball - that is an automatic foul. Good players know how far you can go with a referee.
TRAINS, PLANES AND AUTOMOBILES
Like the rest of the country me and the Blackpool lads would love to watch the Turkey-England game. Unfortunately we will be a few thousand feet in the air.
One of our directors has connections with an airline company so for the first time we will be flying to our match on Saturday against Colchester.
The flight leaves Saturday morning into Stansted and the flight back is at 7.00. That means we might be able to catch the first half and have to get the final result when we land.
Couldn't The FA have sorted us out a home fixture!