Tony Adams has accused Roy Hodgson of a lack of bravery.
And the former Pompey boss believes the England manager’s preference for attacking players has proven decisive in their World Cup finals elimination.
The Three Lions will bid farewell to Brazil following tonight’s final Group D match against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte.
Knocked out following only two matches, passionate inquests are already being held.
Adams has pinpointed England’s failure as a team to keep clean sheets as the issue.
To compensate, he would favour three at the back – in addition to introducing more defensively-minded players in the side.
And he is disappointed it’s a system apparently not considered by Hodgson.
Speaking to The News, Adams said: ‘I would have been a bit more conservative, which is in my nature. A little bit more patient but with less risk of going out of the cup.
‘In England the fans have a mental obsession sometimes that players have to have a go and go on the attack.
‘I think Roy gave the people what they wanted, he was not brave.
‘Defensively, I had reservations before the tournament – and after the Italy game there were still warning signs.
‘I don’t think we would have got enough clean sheets to progress.
‘At that level, at best you want four or five defensive-minded players in your team – I think we have two.
‘Asking Glen Johnson to defend is doing him a massive disservice – he needs to go forward and create, as does Leighton Baines.
‘Perhaps Steven Gerrard can sit there and break up play, but I don’t think against world-class teams that is enough.
‘Dave Sexton used to say a team was about soldiers and artists. Well, I want 10 soldiers, Arsene (Wenger) wants 10 artists, but it is about balancing that.
‘At the 1990 World Cup there were two messy games and Bobby Robson went with three central defenders and was a post away from getting to the final. He was brave.’
At present, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka are England’s first-choice centre-halves, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in reserve.
For Adams, it is Jones who should get the nod to join the current two in a revamped three.
He added: ‘George Graham would say: “If you have not got two good ones then go with three”.
‘Roy should go to three at the back and put Phil Jones in there.
‘Look at Holland in this tournament with their back three, including Ron Vlaar.
‘That is the best example of three at the back making you look a better player. The three of them are filling in holes.
‘At the moment he is looking like the main man, but put him in a two and it is different.’