Football: No More Excuses. after Croatia We Must Win Our Next FIVE Games SAYS JOHN TERRY; UEFA EURO 2008 Austria-Switzerland ISRAEL V ENGLAND GROUP E QUALIFIER, TODAY, KO 6.30PM
Byline: Martin Lipton CHIEF FOOTBALL WRITER
THE BODY language was right. So was the mood, the determination, the words and the tone.
But as John Terry led from the front in Tel Aviv last night, the clarion call he sent out needed to reverberate through the whole England squad and be at the front of their minds when they walk out at the Ramat Gan Stadium.
"There's no other option than for us to win the game," said Terry.
"After Croatia, we basically need to win our next four or five games. There are no excuses.
"Looking at the group, the position we are in is definitely not good enough. I know it's early days but it isn't good enough and all the players feel exactly the same. It is time for us as players to stand up and be counted."
There could be no arguing with Terry's sentiments, or the weight of his words. The Chelsea and England skipper knows that losing to Israel - indeed not beating the team ranked 38th in the world - would be more than a dagger through the nation's Euro 2008 ambitions.
It would also be the final straw in the country's fragile relationship with this group of players. No wonder Terry, like Steve McClaren, does not even give credence to the possibility of failure.
Unlike the manager, though, the centre-half and his colleagues have the means to make sure it simply does not happen.
"From our point of view, Steve is in charge and he can tell us everything in the world but sometimes it's down the players," said Terry.
"The preparation has been second to none over the past few years and we get whatever we need.
"The players have to take a bit of responsibility and it rests on our shoulders. We have to be brave enough to take it on our shoulders and deal with it.
"In Croatia we weren't good enough. We didn't play well at all. We hold our hands up to that and we can't change it.
"When you don't get the right result it eats away at you, even when you go back to your club. You can watch the game over and over again, you try and pinpoint why the fans are frustrated. It's totally down to us. Now we all have to show ourselves as we are week-in, week-out in the Premiership and Europe as well. We really need to do that.
"They have some good players. But we are England and it's about time we showed people what we can do and get three points. It's as simple as that."
It was not arrogance, just a welcome and overdue statement of intent and the self-belief emanating from the England squad this week suggests it is more than idle talk too.
McClaren may be giving first competitive starts to both Aaron Lennon and Andy Johnson, but the rest of the side looks both formidable and strong, mentally and physically.
And the manager believes that the two new boys can bring a dimension that has been chronically lacking. …