England manager Gareth Southgate is very, very proud of his Three Lions team, and says the only thing that stopped them from a World Cup Final was relative inexperience.
Croatia’s Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been there, Southgate said, and England had not, so it was hard to know what was going to happen once Croatia leveled the score in Wednesday’s semi-final.
“I think they played well in the the second half and we lost a bit of control with the ball, and we started to go a bit longer,” Southgate said. “When you’re ahead in a huge game, and one that many of our players hadn’t played in before, nobody knows how you’re going to react until you’re in it.”
England finished second in its group to Belgium by virtue of a final group stage match loss that was absent key players for both teams (as will be Saturday’s third place game rematch).
After beating Colombia and Sweden, England’s supporters believed that “Football was coming home.” It hasn’t, but the full heart of its nation has returned to town.
“I am immensely proud by the way the players have played and we can see by the reaction of the supporters, they felt the same. It was difficult to say anything that will make them feel better at his moment. They have not experienced that before playing with England and it also shows that it can be a memorable experience playing for their country.”
“To become a winning team there are hurdles you have to overcame, and we’ve surpassed many of them.”