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Last Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007, 14:11 GMT
Cohen lays into 'awful' England
George Cohen
George is the uncle of Rugby World Cup-winning winger Ben Cohen
World Cup winner George Cohen has launched a stinging attack on England and their struggle to qualify for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland.

Cohen has accused England players of a lack of passion and believes manager Steve McClaren should be replaced.

"It's absurd that we are struggling to progress," said Cohen.

"Qualification should have been a matter of course but what is obvious now is that we're not as good as we were. We have been awful."

England will not qualify for Euro 2008 if Russia beat Israel and Andorra, and Croatia earn a point in Macedonia or at Wembley on Wednesday.

And Cohen, who won the World Cup with England in 1966, is angry with the way McClaren's team have laboured in Group E.

His position becomes untenable if England fail to qualify

George Cohen on England manager Steve McClaren

"Ordinary teams give us hard work. Some of them are no better than Championship sides and the fact we can't see them off is unacceptable," added Cohen.

"I find it upsetting when I watch this England team. Look at the sides we play - some of them are genuine third world countries.

"We should be beating some of these sides hands down. Look at the last World Cup - Trinidad & Tobago gave us a good game.

"They made it hard for us and England should never have allowed that to happen.

"I found the last World Cup to be abysmal and embarrassing. Our stars were dreadful."

The former Fulham defender has also criticised the current crop of players, saying they "don't look enthusiastic".

"I can't imagine anything less passionate than the way we play now," said the 68-year-old.

"They don't want to play badly, but you can't say they're up for it."


Under-fire McClaren, who took charge in 2006, will not be drawn on his future as England manager but has received support from the likes of captain Steven Gerrard, striker Michael Owen and former England manager Sir Bobby Robson.

But Cohen believes that McClaren will have to go if England do not make the finals, backing Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill to take his place.

"His position becomes untenable if England fail to qualify," said Cohen. "If they gave [World Cup-winning England coach] Sir Alf Ramsey the sack, they can get rid of this guy.

"He's been around the England team for several years, yet in the last four major competitions we've been outrageously poor.

"Morale is obviously poor and that's down to the manager. We look depressed. McClaren just has plan A - there's no plan B.

"I'd appoint Martin O'Neill to replace him - if he wants the job. He'd be strong enough to tell the players they're not giving enough, doing enough or maybe not even good enough."

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