‘In the end, when you reflect, we weren’t quite ready to win’: England No 2 Steve Holland admits Three Lions didn’t handle World Cup semi-final with Croatia as well as they could
- England fell short at the 2018 World Cup when they lost to Croatia in semi-final
- Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland admits they have much to learn
- The inexperienced team had not been through such a pressure situation before
- Having led in the semi-final, England succumbed to Croatia in extra time
- Holland appreciates the team had to ‘suffer’ the heartache to improve in future
Gareth Southgate‘s right-hand man Steve Holland has admitted England ‘weren’t quite ready to win’ during their heartbreaking World Cup semi-final with Croatia.
The Three Lions were beaten 2-1 after extra time in Moscow having taken a fifth-minute lead through Kieran Trippier’s stunning free-kick.
And England assistant manager Holland has offered a brutally candid reflection on the match, saying the team didn’t have enough experience of such occasions to see the game out.
Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland (left) has admitted England weren’t quite ready for the pressure of their World Cup semi-final with Croatia
Mario Mandzukic scored the goal in extra time that sent England crashing out in the semi-finals
Croatia proved too strong for Southgate’s side when the World Cup final was within reach
‘In the end, when you reflect, we weren’t quite ready to win, frankly,’ Holland told The Sunday Telegraph.
‘We were half-an-hour or so, 20 minutes, from a World Cup final. We had a very inexperienced team who had never been in that situation before.
‘It was a massive moment and we probably, on reflection, didn’t handle that as well as we could have handled it.’
England led until the 68th minute at the Luzhniki Stadium before Ivan Perisic scored Croatia’s equaliser, before Mario Mandzukic found the winner in extra time.
Holland acknowledged that England had to ‘suffer’ in order to learn the lessons of the loss
Croatia would go on to lose 4-2 to France in the final four days later.
Holland also said England had to ‘suffer’ in order to learn the lessons of falling just short of the final when success was within reach.
He added: ‘Losing the semi-final was a hard 24 hours for us all. I can’t make it sound better than it was. We were all shattered by it.
‘We were desperate to give the nation what they wanted and we fell short at the end. We had to suffer.’
England’s attention now turns to next summer’s UEFA Nations League finals, where they have been drawn against Holland in the semi-final.
Southgate and Holland now turn their attentions to next summer’s Nations League finals