Pierre van Hooijdonk warned Netherlands face a "hell of a job" to qualify for the World Cup and declared they simply do not have the talent to be a force on the international stage.
The 1988 European champions are in serious danger of missing out on a second consecutive major tournament after a 2-0 defeat to Bulgaria, which cost coach Danny Blind his job.
Having failed to qualify for the European Championship in France last year, Netherlands are fourth in Group A with five matches remaining - three points behind second-placed Sweden.
Former Netherlands striker Van Hooijdonk thinks it is a tall order for his country to seal a spot in the showpiece in Russia next year with a trip to leaders France to come in August.
He told Omnisport: "They can qualify, but it's a hell of a job because we still have to play France away.
"I believe we can win the other games. But even then, if Sweden don't get anything from the game against France in Stockholm we are second, but we could end up as the worst second and still not qualify."
Van Hooijdonk delivered a frank assessment of the predicament Netherlands find themselves in.
"We have a lack of talent. We still have to get used to the fact that we haven't got the top quality players anymore." he added.
"If you look at where our stars are playing, there is only Arjen Robben who is a regular at one of the top clubs in Europe. In the past we had guys playing for Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona, not squad players, but starting.
"We have produced lots and lots of talented players, now we haven't got these special players any more. Sometimes that is part of the game, you have these periods.
"We have some good talented young players, but not that talented that we will be challenging in the World Cups and European Championships at the moment."
Netherlands host Luxembourg in their next qualifier on June 9.