By Jack Wilkinson
Football journalist - @jacktwilkinson
Jose Mourinho stresses cause for English optimism after Russia 2018 campaign
Croatia to play France in World Cup final; England face Belgium in third-place play-off
Last Updated: 12/07/18 7:38am
Jose Mourinho insists England have reason to be optimistic despite falling agonisingly short of the World Cup final.
England's unexpected journey in Russia came to an end in the semi-finals as Mario Mandzukic sealed a 2-1 victory in extra-time to break English hearts in Moscow.
Mourinho accepts the defeat will be a bitter pill for England - who led through Kieran Trippier's free-kick before Ivan Perisic equalised - to swallow but believes they can take comfort from their campaign.
"England have reason to cry because they were so close to [reaching the World Cup final], but they have also have reason to be optimistic," the Manchester United manager told RT.
Neville: England have lifted everyone
England's performances at the World Cup have lifted English football, insists Gary Neville
"The team improved a lot in relation to previous appearances. It's a young team, the majority of the players will play in the next World Cup with more experience at club level.
"If I was in charge of the FA there would be no doubt that I would keep Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland in their jobs and give them the chance to take the team to the next Euros and the next World Cup.
"The players and the squad, everybody involved in the World Cup, have a reason to come back home with pride after giving everything and making the country proud."
While English players laid strewn across the turf at full-time at the Luzhniki Stadium, Croatia's were jubilant after reaching the World Cup final for the very first time.
It prompted a glowing assessment from Mourinho, who added: "It's a great achievement for a country where the league is a minor league and the majority of the players don't player in Croatia but abroad.
"As I know, when you work abroad, you feel your country in a different way.
"So for them to go back to their country and take a nation like Croatia to the World Cup final is something amazing."
Fantasy Football is back!
Fantasy just got real. Pick your Sky Sports Fantasy Football team for free here.