LONDON COLNEY, April 1 – Rio Ferdinand insists England's stars won't get carried away by the hype surrounding Fabio Capello's revitalised squad.
Capello has restored the feelgood factor around the English national team in little more than a year in charge and the plaudits are beginning to flow freely from fans and media alike.
But Ferdinand has seen it all before and knows only too well the corrosive effect excessive praise can have on a team.
Whenever England have a few good results they are instantly crowned as world-beaters even though those gaudy claims rarely stand the test of time.
In the past Ferdinand believes some England players were only too willing to bask in the praise and took their eye off the ball.
Fortunately for the Manchester United defender, England now have a manager far too canny and ruthless to let that kind of complacent attitude infiltrate the camp.
So although England go into Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley top of their group after four successive victories, Ferdinand knows the squad won’t rest on their laurels.
"There’s no chance of this squad getting too big for our boots or people believing the hype. We don’t look at what is being said on the outside," Ferdinand said.
"In the past, maybe the media have had a stranglehold on the squads, in terms of our outlook and expectations of ourselves.
"Maybe there’s been a possibility that the outside attention had an effect on the squad. This manager is very good and that can’t happen in this squad.
"The manager’s good at that. He’s been through the mire, through every scenario that can be put in front of him. He deals with it in his own way.
"We want to win games. For me, everything else is a blur. We get on with what we’re doing. The only difference now is that the envirmonment we’re in now, no one is not allowed to get carried away with it.
"If we’re not focused and adhering to his plans, there’s a strong possiblity that you won’t play."
Ferdinand, who recovered from a groin injury in time to be available for selection against Ukraine, cites the example of Michael Owen’s fall from grace as evidence that no player can take their place for granted under Capello.
Owen was a mainstay of the England team for a decade before Capello took over last year and repaid his managers’ faith with 40 goals in 89 appearances.
But the Newcastle striker’s attitude and, more importantly, his continued struggles with injury haven’t impressed Capello. Even injuries to Emile Heskey, Carlton Cole and Darren Bent ahead of the Ukraine match couldn’t persuade the England coach to hand Owen a recall.
"There can be no complacency in this squad. Look at Michael Owen. You’d have said Michael was bang on to get 100 caps two or three years ago, and that it would be a given that he’d be in every squad when he was fit.
But this manager has come in and he’s seeing things from a different angle," Ferdinand said.
"If you’re not fit enough or you’re not on form, you won’t get in the squad. Rightly so. That’s the way it’s got to be."
Ferdinand has no problem with Capello’s hardline stance because it gives players no room to slack off.
"It keeps the hunger in your belly, the desire and the passion," he said. "If you get into the situation where people are almost not worried about the squad coming out, because they’re expecting always to be in the squad, then that’s a bad place to start from.
"It’s better if people are on their toes. You can’t say anyone in this team, really, even if they’ve played five or six games, is guaranteed to be in the team.
"Whereas, if you look back over the last 20 or 25 years, you could say there have been four or five players who you could say it didn’t really matter if they played poorly. They’d always get the shirt."