Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho believes England “have a reason to cry” after Gareth Southgate’s team came so close to reaching the World Cup final before falling to Croatia in a semifinal defeat.
England led after a superb Kieran Trippier free kick five minutes in but they were made pay for their failure to convert further chances by Ivan Perisic’s second-half strike and Mario Mandzukic’s extra-time winner.
While Mourinho lamented England’s inability to grab a second to kill the game off, he admitted the Perisic leveller gave Croatia “an overdose of confidence” that changed the game.
As Southgate’s players prepare for a third/fourth placed playoff with Belgium, Mourinho insists they can take pride in their performance which should stand them in good stead for the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
“England of course have a reason to cry but they also have a reason to be optimistic,” the Portuguese told Russia Today.
“The team improved a lot in relation to previous appearances. The squad is young. The majority of the players can play the next World Cup. Probably, Ashley Young, [Jamie] Vardy, they will be 37 and 35, but the others will be at the next world cup, with more experience at club level.
“Gareth Southgate and [assistant manager] Steve Holland, if I was the FA, if i was in charge, no doubt that I would keep them in the job and I would give them the chance to take the team to the next Euros, eventually to the next World Cup.
“The players, the squad and everybody involved in the World Cup for England have a reason to come back home with the pride that they gave everything and they made their country, not fully happy, but they made their country proud.”