Rob Andrew, England's new director of elite rugby, has warned head coach Andy Robinson to improve the world champs' results fast or face the sack.
Andrew is a former England fly-half who left Newcastle to join the RFU
"I don't think we can say 'whatever the results he'll be in charge for the World Cup'," Andrew said of Robinson.
"We have to look at how things are going and we have to make sure that by the end of the Six Nations everyone can see there has been a change in gear."
However, Andrew also confirmed that the final call on selection was Robinson's.
With the World Cup just 12 months away, England are ranked fifth favourites to defend their title behind New Zealand, France, Australia and South Africa.
England have won just two matches in each of the last two Six Nations tournaments under Robinson, and Andrew wants to see an improvement in results and performance come the spring.
"We have to have a head of steam by the end of the Six Nations to have any chance at the World Cup," he added.
"The model in 2003 was right and it was a fantastic achievement but the world game has moved on quite considerably since then and it is clear from the results that England haven't.
[Andy Robinson] was left holding the baby after the 2003 World Cup
"A change of direction is needed and it's needed pretty quickly."
During his time as Newcastle's director of rugby, Andrew was often a vocal critic of England's "muddled" selection policy.
The most famous incidents involved Henry Paul being substituted after just 23 minutes against Australia and Mathew Tait being dropped after one appearance.
But Andrew does sympathise with the position Robinson has found himself in following Sir Clive Woodward's resignation in 2004.
And Robinson has grown increasingly frustrated at the constant rows over player access while England's performances have been going backwards.
One of Andrew's over-riding aims is to build effective working relationships with those clubs - but in the short term it is about the autumn internationals, the Six Nations and the World Cup defence.
"Andy has been under a lot of pressure in the last two years," added Andrew.
"He admits one or two of his decisions have not been the best but I think he was left holding the baby after the 2003 World Cup.
"I don't think he had the support - in coaching or management - which is required at this level. That was recognised in the Six Nations review and now we have a very strong structure.
There are too many people who have played for England over the last three years, some of whom haven't been good enough
"I am part of a team that is supporting Andy, working with Andy and taking collective responsibility for where we go next with tactics and strategy.
"I have an over-riding role to play in the whole department but the focus of the senior coaching team and myself is putting together a strategy for the next 12 months.
"Andy is now focusing all his attention on becoming the best head coach he can be in an environment that now supports him both beneath and above."
In addition to Robinson, England's coaching team also includes Brian Ashton, John Wells and Mike Ford, who were appointed in the summer after England's poor displays last season.
They will all be involved in the selection process along with Andrew, but Robinson retains the casting vote.
"Andy will have the final say," confirmed Andrew, who is determined to implement a coherent selection policy.
"There are too many people who have played for England over the last three years, some of whom haven't been good enough," he said.
"The whole structure is about making sure that when a player gets to the elite squad, particularly the sharp end of it, we are in no doubts that player is good enough to play for England and the pressure cooker that playing for England is all about.
"There have been too many on that list who haven't passed all the tests on the way through and we have to re-address that.
"There are certain positions in the current set-up of English rugby where we don't have the strength in depth we would like.
"But the long-term process is about making sure we constantly have a stream of players in every position who can play for England when called upon."