The Rugby Football Union should be “bold” and replace Eddie Jones as England’s head coach, according to former wing Ugo Monye.
Jones has presided over a disappointing few years, which culminated in a dreadful Autumn Nations Series campaign.
They lost two of their four matches, including a shock reversal against Argentina, with their only win coming against Japan.
Against New Zealand, the Red Rose found themselves 25-6 down with 10 minutes remaining, only to somehow come back and claim a remarkable draw.
Regressed since the last World Cup
“I think they’ve regressed since 2019. We’ve had this team be in transition for quite a while now,” he said on the BBC Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
“After being in camp for four or five weeks they’re still not clear on how they want to play with five competitive matches to go before the World Cup. I know we’ve got time and they’ve got a three-month pre-season but you’d want a sense of clarity.
“You look at the home nations and whether they’re winning or losing I think I can distinguish how each team wants to play. I can’t quite say that about England.
“I’d like to see the RFU be bold. I think they’ve fiercely backed this person. It’s been a tempestuous seven years. We’ve had as many highs on the pitch as we’ve had lows and that’s international rugby.
“It’s been matched by what has happened off the pitch as well. I feel to a certain extent that this relationship has maybe run its course at this point.
“Eddie came out after the (South Africa) game and his statement was, in reflection of the review, ‘Bill Sweeney will have his opinion based on what you guys (the media) write.’
“I think that’s a bit of a dig. Bill Sweeney’s a smart guy and is well-informed to understand rugby.
“He does have this siege mentality when put into a corner, but I think he should care what other people think.”
If Jones is to stay it will be because of the short period of time between now and the next World Cup, with the global tournament in France under a year away.
However, Monye believes that England’s own experience with the Australian when he first came in could force the RFU to act now.
“If he was to go, there will be people saying it should have been done sooner because of the time sensitivity pressure,” he said.
“We’ve got the Six Nations in two months, got a World Cup in nine months, so if we are to bring someone in, they’re not going to have a huge amount of time.
“But when Eddie Jones came in, he only had two weeks to get them ready for the (2016) Six Nations and won a Grand Slam off the back of it.
“Everyone has a gut feeling, but at this point where you’ve had poor results with poor performances, there needs to be an objectivity to it, there needs to be something tangible behind it, and it’s hard to find that tangible evidence.
“The only people that seem to be able to see it are the players in camp because they see more than we’ll ever see. ”
Looking at football’s example
Monye also looks at football’s relationship with managers, even when those head honchos are considered to be among the best in the business.
“When I look at football, I look at the likes of Jose Mourinho. He’s still a great coach but that relationship ran its course at Chelsea, as well as other clubs.
“I look at (Mauricio) Pochettino, I look at Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. He did so many incredible things but he was just there too long and he had to go.
“There are so examples where you talk about world-class, well-experienced coaches that either stay too long or for some reason there’s a disconnect between them and the players or them and the fans.”
The opinion of the punters is particularly important for Monye, who understands why there were so many boos following the defeat to South Africa.
England produced an abject display against the Springboks, leaving the fans wondering when the Red Rose will start going in the right direction.
“They had real reason to moan, wondering why they’re paying what they’re paying for the tickets and wanting to understand the sense of direction this England team are travelling,” Monye added.
“It was the quickest I had exited Twickenham because I didn’t want to have to field all the various different questions and the statements being thrown at me.
“That was poor, that was one of the worst endings from the stands – in terms of how vocal they were to their team – and some of it was rightly justified as well.”