England captain Steven Gerrard has urged fans to be realistic about the national side's chances of winning World Cup 2014.
The Liverpool talisman scored the second goal in his country's 2-0 victory over Poland at Wembley on Tuesday, which secured the Three Lions' place at next summer's competition in Brazil.
As part of England's so-called 'golden generation,' the 33-year-old Gerrard has found hysteria to be a negative influence on the team in the past but is hopeful that this time fans and the squad will be more understanding of their limitations.
"The important thing now is that people don't get carried away and start putting us as favorites, thinking everything is fine and we're a fantastic team," Gerrard told reporters. "My experience going into World Cups is people talking about golden generations and of us being one of the favorites, this is going to be our year, and stuff like that but that only creates a false pressure, an unfair pressure.
"It's a very tough tournament, and I think, this time, people will be more realistic. We certainly will be. We know we're a good team, but we need to improve."
While the midfielder has lauded the youngsters coming into the national side, he emphasized the importance of experience and believes that Roy Hodgson has provided the perfect combination of players for the team to succeed.
"Andros Townsend has been magnificent over two games [in October]," Gerrard said. "[Jack] Wilshere, [Raheem] Sterling, [Ross] Barkley are all breaking through, but the important thing is to keep the experienced players to guide them in the right way. That's what Roy has created, a good atmosphere in the group and a good blend."
A successful World Cup campaign is still missing from the Liverpool midfielder's illustrious career, a gap that he is keen to fill.
"I watched [Paul] Gascoigne and saw the lads get to the semifinals and to within inches of the final in 1990," Gerrard said. "Unfortunately, as a player I've not had similar memories to what the lads had at Italy in 1990.
"The World Cup is the ultimate tournament. It's so difficult to do well in, because there are so many good teams and so many good players there. It is tough, but I'm hoping this time we'll surprise a few people."
- Sports & Recreation