Sir Bobby Robson has claimed England lacked the hunger to win the World Cup.
The former national boss, while critical of manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's tactics, believes much of the blame for the team's disastrous quarter-final exit lies with players who under-performed.
Robson told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme: 'I think we needed a bit of hunger to want to win. That was, in some cases, lacking.
'I saw Germany last night and they weren't going to finish fourth, I tell you. They finished third - they would have liked to have finished first.
'I don't think some of our players played to their maximum potential. We didn't play it like we play in our league, for instance, with a good tempo and highly competitive and running forward and playing forward passes - clever passes - to front people.
'We played with one striker sometimes where we needed to play with two strikers. You have only got to look at Germany. They were almost the only team in the tournament, apart from maybe Argentina, who actually played with two strikers.
'We have a lot to learn, and let's hope the future is bright under Steve McClaren.'
Robson also agreed with injured striker Michael Owen, who suggested Wayne Rooney's talent had been wasted by playing him as a lone frontman, and that had contributed to his sending-off against Portugal.
He said: 'I don't think Owen would be too far from the truth. When Rooney got into the team, he didn't play really in his best position.
'I think he got frustrated, and I would agree with what Owen said, I think he got a bit irritated with the way it wasn't happening around him.
'He lacked support and he lost his head - he's a young boy, he hasn't got an old head on young shoulders, not yet.
'I hope he gets it because if he does, we have a really clever player on our hands.'
Robson applauded David Beckham for his decision to stand down as captain and save new manager McClaren a difficult decision, and forecast that naming a replacement would not prove too onerous a task.
He said: '(John) Terry's a great candidate, Gary Neville is a good competitor and a good character, a good tough lad. He speaks well for the team.
'(Steven) Gerrard eventually will be a very good captain as well, so I don't think it's a situation for us to be unduly worried. There are three there who can handle it very, very well.
'I applaud David for making this decision. He's had his time, he knows that. He's saved Steve McClaren a big decision that he might have had to make, but that's gone by now.'
Robson's former club Newcastle have been linked with a move for Beckham over the weekend, and while that looks unlikely, he insists the Real Madrid midfielder would be an asset to any club.
He said: 'He'd be a good signing for anyone. In my opinion, he's far from finished. He's 31 now, he's an intelligent boy, he's got great delivery, precision crossing and passing, and as long as he has a will to want to carry on for a couple of years...
'I know he wants to try to get 100 caps, and I think Steve will give him that opportunity - but not as captain.
'He will have to play for his place, and there won't be any side issues about it: play well and you are in the team, don't play so well and you might not be.'