Steve McClaren deserves to stay on as England coach even if the team fail to reach Euro 2008, according to his assistant Terry Venables.
Venables was England boss for two-and-a-half years
Venables says England began their qualifying campaign poorly but then made great strides under McClaren.
"I think Steve knows himself we were a little bit late starting off, but we got there - we were a fraction away," Venables told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"I do believe the improvement is worth a little more patience."
England won their opening two games in qualifying against Andorra and Macedonia, but then picked up only two points in three games at home to Macedonia and away to Croatia and Israel.
It was football that I think the fans have shown they liked, and the players enjoyed playing it, and the press as well
Despite then putting together five straight 3-0 wins in the group, England's destiny is not in their own hands after they lost 2-1 in Russia in their last match.
England now need Russia to drop points in one of their two remaining games against Israel and Andorra, or for Macedonia to defeat Croatia, to still have a chance when Croatia visit Wembley on 21 November.
But Venables says that the improved performances in the run of wins will go to waste if McClaren loses his job.
"You don't tear the paper up and start all over again," said Venables.
"You say, 'we're on to something here - let's pursue this and not start all over again and have another trek to look for someone else who has to start again as well.'
"Have some belief."
Venables also says that McClaren has got England playing the type of football that the fans appreciate.
"We've left it a bit late getting ourselves really right," he said. "We've played and not only won convincingly five games but also with the right type of football.
"It was football that I think the fans have shown they liked, and the players enjoyed playing it, and the press as well.
"We still feel it's not over yet and if we get a chance it's up to us to prove we can do it. But it's not completely down to us now."