Gareth Southgate has said England are determined to finish well ahead of their World Cup third place play-off against Belgium on Saturday – a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT from 3pm.
The Three Lions were unable to reach their first World Cup final since 1966 after succumbing to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Croatia.
Although there was huge disappointment at failing to reach the final, England have exceeded the expectations of many on what they would achieve in Russia.
And while the third-place play-off is a ultimately a dead rubber, Southgate insisted his players would be taking the game seriously as victory would make the class of 2018 the second most successful England team at a World Cup.
Belgium v England preview
Speaking to talkSPORT’s Nigel Adderley, Southgate said: “We want to finish well. I think we go home with pride but there is personal pride as well as the nation’s pride to this.
“They [the England players] deserve a medal but they need to go and earn it and we want to keep maintaining the standards. We have the chance to be the second most successful team in English football history.
“We want to acknowledge what we achieved. We didn’t get to game 64 but this team reached so many landmarks in terms of its first knockout win in many years, the first penalty shootout win, the last quarter-final win, the last appearance in a semi-final.
“We felt the connection of the public even though I’ve tried so hard to stay away from social media but I could feel what was happening.
We want to recognise that there is still some work to do. We reached the semi-finals, we are competitive against the top teams but we are not beating the top teams.
“We know we’re realistic about where we are. I think we’ll be back in the top ten rankings when this tournament finishes.
“We’ve now established a culture and a way of working that has to now remain and when the players gather again they need to hit those standards in training and their approach to games.”
On the semi-final against Croatia, he added: “I’ll need to watch the game two or three more times to pick every detail up but we played very well in the first-half.
“For the players to start the biggest game of their lives with the freedom of expression like that was really pleasing.
“In the second-half we stopped playing. We stopped making the angles for good support play and that brought Croatia back into the game. They exploited some of the weaknesses in our system.
“We recovered for extra-time and controlled the first-half of extra-time. We were ten minutes from a shootout and failed to react to quite a random header that landed in our six yard box.
“It was actually even tighter than I thought.”