Elite rugby director Rob Andrew has backed Martin Johnson and his under-fire coaching staff to revive England's fortunes - but he warned it would be a "long-term process".
Johnson’s first series in charge ended with a hat-trick of heavy defeats to SANZAR superpowers Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
The 42-6 hammering by the Springboks and 32-6 defeat to the All Blacks were England’s worst results at Twickenham ever.
The last two England head coaches, Andy Robinson and Brian Ashton, did not survive in the post for more than 18 months before being moved on.
But Andrew insisted Johnson was central to the Rugby Football Union’s plans to emulate the model of managerial continuity and player development made successful in the football world by Manchester United and Arsenal.
Andrew explained: “Johnno has a three-year fixed-term contract to the 2011 World Cup. That was a change to the contract structure of the RFU because we know what is required over the next three years.
“This is a three year project and the process has just started. Everyone knows the side needs rebuilding after the 2007 World Cup.
“When you’re looking at long-term succession planning and building successful teams you look at something like the Manchester United and Arsenal model.”
Andrew admitted the player development issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency as Johnson attempts to bridge an alarming generation gap, which developed in the years immediately after the 2003 World Cup win.
Both New Zealand and England lost a host of key players following the 2007 World Cup - and yet the All Blacks fielded a team at Twickenham on Saturday with a total of 647 caps to England’s 275.
Johnson has had to blood a new team, including six debutants and a handful of others with caps in single-figures, during the most demanding international series possible.
And England look set to be plagued by the issue for some time to come, particularly in the tight five where they struggled this autumn but have a concerning lack of depth.
The only capped prop in the Saxons squad is Bristol’s Jason Hobson, who has made just one appearance off the bench, while the front row that took England to the Under-20 World Cup final is struggling for game-time in the Guinness Premiership.
Andrew confirmed the issue was high on his agenda and revealed one proposal is to turn the EDF Energy Cup into an English Under-25 competition.
“We are trying to build a structure behind Martin to make sure we don’t fall into this trough again, where we don’t have players coming through,” said Andrew.
“We do have a gap we need to fill and we need the Premiership to help us achieve that. The young players need to play.
“Our Under-20s were world level last year and we need them to move on. We need the Premiership to help us develop a much stronger A-League.”