Gareth Southgate tempered his pride with realism as he reflected on England's World Cup campaign following the 2-0 defeat to Belgium in Saturday's third place play-off.
Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard scored the goals as the Red Devils ran out comfortable winners against a tired-looking England side for whom this was clearly one game too far.
Southgate claimed that despite ranking fourth at the tournament, England were "not a top four team yet", though he reiterated he was proud of his team's progress during the tournament.
"We don't kid ourselves and we know the areas we hope to get better," he said, as quoted by BBC Sport.
"We are very proud of what we have done. Against the best teams we have come up short, but we have had a wonderful experience. I couldn't ask for any more from the players. We were 20 minutes from a World Cup final three nights ago."
England reached the semi finals for the first time since 1990, but many people felt it was a missed opportunities as they threw away a half time lead to lose to Croatia in extra time on Wednesday. Southgate preferred to focus on the positives.
"I felt it was important to tell them how proud I was and to recognise how far they got," said Southgate.
"We haven't hidden in terms of where we see our progress, but we also leave here having progressed a lot as a team.
"The experiences the players have had and the enjoyment is important in an England shirt. They would have learned a lot in victory and in defeat, and now we look to the future."
England's next match will be their UEFA Nations League bow against Spain in September at Wembley.