Glenn Hoddle fears the poor performance by England in their opening European Under-21 Championship defeat is a sign of the malaise in English football.
Stuart Pearce's side - by his own admission - were outclassed by Italy in Wednesday night's 1-0 defeat in Tel Aviv.
England may have had a goal ruled out for a foul, but were out-fought and out-thought with Lorenzo Insigne curling in a late free-kick to hand the Italians a deserved victory.
The result puts huge pressure on Pearce's team ahead of Saturday's fixture against Norway, but it was the manner of the display and their conservative tactics that frustrated Hoddle.
The former England manager told Sky Sports: "I was disappointed we lost, but I think it is very disappointing the way we played, we didn't get anywhere near the way we like to see them play.
"We struggled to pass the ball all night until perhaps the last ten minutes when the game got stretched and we went 1-0 down, and sometimes it is easier to play when you are 1-0 down as you have nothing to lose.
"I was disappointed with how we played long, we played too many long balls, we had no options on the ball and it is a concern that it is running through to the national team, the full team, and this team.
"We have got to find players that can cope with the ball and are confident to receive it, even when they are marked. If you play the ball on the right if somebody is marking you on the left, you have to have the opportunity to hold that off and have the confidence to use it and then you can start passing.
"We haven't got those type of players in there at the moment. Overall, very disappointing. They were a class above us as a football team."
Also watching in the Sky Sports studios was another ex-England boss and he echoed Hoddle's dismay.
Steve McCLaren said: "You could tell from the beginning that the Italians would play from the back and we'd play long. England looked very nervous and the inexperience showed.
"You need two or three older heads to put their foot on the ball and control the game. When players put on that England shirt on it's that word we talk about - 'fear'.
"Whether it's the fear of giving the ball away or losing the match. Whatever it is, we showed a little bit of that. When we went 1-0 down the shackles came off and we were able to express ourselves a bit more.
"We can do it, but it's those nerves at the start of the tournament. Once you've got that out of the way then you can move on. But now England have to win their next game and that may enable them to be free and express themselves."
The other match in England's group ended in a 2-2 draw with Norway needing an injury-time equaliser to salvage a point against host Israel.
Liverpool's Jordan Henderson impressed with a high number of passes, but Italy midfielder Marco Verratti, who plays for Paris Saint-German, was the stand-out performer according to Hoddle.
"Henderson may have produced those passes but it's the quality that counts," the former Chelsea and Tottenham boss added.
"I didn't see Henderson play anywhere near Verratti. He was hitting balls that were taking out the whole England team. The English midfield just didn't do that. We didn't see any killer balls and we didn't have that availability or the movement for anyone to hit it.
"Do we have those players to hit that pass? No, whereas Italy have got different options. Our full backs never got themselves forward or high enough to engage with the midfield.
"England will strengthen the team but it's a learning curve and it bodes well for the future but whether it bodes well for the next game against Norway in three days...."