Gareth Southgate has told his England players they simply must improve on their current ranking of 13th in the world.
The England manager said his team's standing in world football was "not good enough" and that he would not be satisfied until the Three Lions were at the top.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Southgate said: "We have players of great potential but at the moment we are 13th in the world.
"We've got to be better - everything we do has got to be better. Even being second in the world is not good enough - we have to be the best we can be, and that is the best."
England have won two and drawn two since Southgate took over following the short reign of Sam Allardyce, a record he is determined to improve, starting with the friendly against Germany on March 22.
"Hard work is not the phrase" he added. "Everyone can work hard. We have to work smartly on how we can bridge that gap, as it's a significant one. But there are players not just in this current squad but coming through our age groups who can achieve that."
Southgate knows how fine the margins can be at the top level of world football, having been part of the England team which reached the semi-finals of Euro 96. Southgate missed a penalty as England were beaten by Germany in a shoot-out.
"Every time you play for England you've got the chance to make history," he said. "Do they want to be remembered? I know in my generation we got close. This is the current crop's chance."