Manchester United captain Gary Neville accepts England sorely underperformed at the World Cup but has called on the Football Association to back Fabio Capello.
Neville, who has not played for his country since 2007 despite a surprise call-up to the squad last year, believes the Italian was guilty of mistakes in South Africa but insists the players must take a greater share of the blame.
And he has hit out at the decision to spend two weeks pondering Capello's fate - especially after removing an exit clause from his contract just before the tournament.
Writing in The Times, the 35-year-old said: "England are out of the World Cup and, surprise, surprise, we are talking about sacking the manager.
"If that was a reaction I expected from some fans and pundits, I was disappointed - although not exactly shocked - to hear wavering coming out of the FA.
"Two weeks to decide Fabio Capello's future, says Adrian Bevington, the Club England managing director.
"This is the same Club England (whatever that is) that trumpeted so proudly 28 days ago that it had taken the release clause out of the manager's contract.
"One minute these guys are talking about Capello as world-class, now they need a fortnight to decide if he is the man for them after all.
"What are they waiting for - to see what's in the newspapers? Where is the backbone? Now you can understand why I have had my arguments with the FA down the years."
Neville believes Capello was guilty of some tactical errors - notably his disinclination to waver from 4-4-2 - but is certain he must remain in place to tackle the problems which were highlighted at the World Cup.
"It (the FA) has to stick by Capello. I do not agree with all his decisions, from squad selection to formation, but nor do I buy the idea that he merits the sack.
"It is easy for Alan Shearer to say the players haven't performed for him, but is that all one man's fault? I'd put three of Germany's four goals down to individuals.
"Whatever anyone says about systems - and I was surprised Capello didn't try 4-5-1 - these were errors from experienced players."
Neville, one of the few homegrown players to enjoy consistent success at home and in Europe in recent years, also accepts that English clubs' reliance on foreign-born talent has been a problem for the national side.
"We have to question how good we truly are," he added. "Better than we performed in this World Cup, for sure, but have we overestimated our strengths on the basis of our strong record in the Champions League? Possibly.
"The success of Manchester United and Chelsea cannot be a reliable guide to the merits of the England team, given the number of top-class players from overseas."