Former Lions tourist Mark Cueto has claimed England were in a 'no-win situation' when they faced Italy in the second round of the Six Nations last weekend.
Cueto, who toured New Zealand with Sir Clive Woodward's Lions five years ago, was part of the England XV that won 17-12 against the Azzurri in Rome.
England may still be on course for a first Grand Slam since 2003, but the margin of victory and the manner of performance has seen former Lions skipper Martin Johnson and his team come under fire in the days that have followed.
And while Cueto admits that the overall performance could have been better, the Sale wing claims that the critics would have been out on force whatever the result in the Italian capital.
"You are in a no-win situation against Italy," said Cueto, who was a World Cup finalist two years after returning from his only Lions adventure.
"If you win like we did here everyone is booing as you come off and expects you to win by more. If you win by more everyone says 'no disrespect, but it is only Italy'.
"We have won the game and we are two from two which is where we want to be.
"We are frustrated with how the game went. You can't disrespect the Italians. We knew exactly what they were going to do and unfortunately we allowed them to do it."