England coach Gareth Southgate said his team need to “suffer” their loss to Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals and understand the opportunity they passed up before pondering the positives from their remarkable campaign.
Southgate’s team made a fine start to their quest to become the first England side to reach the final in 52 years but faded in the second half before going down 2-1 to the Croatians after extra time at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Given they arrived in Russia as rank outsiders, however, Southgate was invited to detail the positives from a campaign that appears to have repaired the strained relationship between England and its team.
“I think that’s maybe something for a couple of days time, at the moment we all feel the pain of this defeat,” he told reporters.
“Did we expect to be in this position? I don’t realistically think any of us did. But when you’ve got to this point and played as well as we have … you want to take these opportunities in life.
“The dressing-room is a really difficult place at the moment. There will in time be positives to take, it’s very hard now to put that into context, it’s a bit too soon, really, because I think you have to suffer the result a little bit.
“It’s too easy to sometimes move on too quickly.”
Gifted a relatively soft draw by the early exit of a number of traditional World Cup superpowers, England reached the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 1996, when Southgate was part of the team.