By Chris Harris

Arsène Wenger blames the structure of international football for England's stuttering Euro 2008 campaign.

Steve McClaren's side were held to a draw by Israel last weekend and struggled to beat Andorra in midweek. The England manager was criticised on the terraces and in the media after both games and Wenger believes that the organisation of qualifying campaigns is part of the problem.

The break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia has increased the number of European countries attempting to qualify for major tournaments. Wenger advocates a pre-qualifying competition to solve the problem of bloated fixture lists and negative tactics.

"Russia went from one [team] to 21, Yugoslavia to six, then Andorra, you now have Gibraltar who want to come in. Why not Barnet? It's the same," said Wenger.

"I sympathise with Steve McClaren, it's not his fault the way the competition is structured. If he doesn't perform against Russia or France you can criticise, but the way this competition is organised is not serious.

"At the moment I can understand that you question your national team, but don't forget that I personally think that the problems with the national teams are not linked with the national team. They are linked with the way the qualifiers are organised nowadays.

"There are always big teams against very small teams and to see good football you need two teams who play football. That's not possible anymore in the qualifiers because of the way the competition is structured.

"You go to Estonia now for example and they will be happy with 0-0. They sit back, they don't come out, they break us down, and we'll see a boring game.

"You have the same problem in the League as well. That means you are always in the position where you have to take a huge risk and if you are not 2-0 up after 20 minutes you start to be booed and people say 'what's happening here?'.

"It's the way the competition is organised. Ninety per cent of the games have no interest."

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Chris Harris 30 Mar 2007