Neville may cry: Sarina Wiegman to take over the England job in 2021

Former football player and Netherlands women manager Sarina Weigman holds the trophy aloft after winning the Euro 2017.

Former Netherlands midfielder Sarina Wiegman will replace Phil Neville as England’s head coach starting September 2021. She has signed a contract for four years. It’s still unclear whether she’ll coach Team Great Britain at the Olympics. 

Earlier in the year, England’s FA and Neville decided that his current deal would not be extended, paving the way for new applications. Wiegman was the Football Association’s preferred choice from the 142 candidates that had thrown their hat into the ring.

Medal Aspirations with the Oranje

The Dutch coach was keen to lead the Oranje Lionesses in the 2021 Tokyo olympics, with the FA not coming in the way of her wish. Her track record, after all allows her dictate some terms. She coached the Netherlands team to the final of the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France. They’d only qualified for their first World Cup finals in the 2015 edition. Two years prior, she coached the Netherlands team that won the European Championships on home soil.

That would have certainly gotten the attention of the FA. England are the hosts for the 2022 European Championships and the governing body certainly back her to repeat the feat with the Three Lionesses. Euro 2022 has got to be her first target. England’s wait to host the European Championships was delayed, with Covid-19 throwing it’s weight on the sporting calendar.

Wiegman said, “I am delighted and honoured to join England Women next year. England is the cradle of football and the major developments in women’s football globally over recent years have been led by the FA. I’m looking forward to contributing my experience and expertise to this ambitious team.

“The ride with the ‘Oranje Lionesses’ have[sic] been amazing so far, but we haven’t reached our final decision yet. There are two more goals: qualifying for Euro 2022 and challenging at the Olympics next summer. That would be a fitting completion for me of everything we’ve strived to achieve in women’s football in my home country.”

Netherlands’ team players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 final match between Netherlands and Denmark at FC Twente Stadium in Enschede, Netherlands.

As a player, Sarina Wiegman was the first from her country to earn 100 caps. She had managed ADO Den Haag Women and served as a first team assistant of the Netherlands’ women’s team. Later in 2017, she would take over head coach duties. Interestingly, Weigman’s Netherlands had knocked England out of the Euro 2017, winning the semifinal 3-0. 

Forthcoming and tactical

The English players would be thrilled with the appointment of Weigman, who’s far more renowned for her tactics than their current boss. Phil Neville is no novice coach. He has had coaching stints with the Manchester United and Valencia first team. But his natural flair lies in being a pundit – he’ll be the first one to admit that. 

England’s form has nosedived since exiting the 2019 Women’s World Cup in the semi-finals. They’ve lost 7 of the 11 matches played since and Neville would inevitably be questioned. 

In Weigman, England will get a coach who likes to tell players the truth. She’s generally been a strict coach and wouldn’t flatter her players in order to remain popular. A combination of honesty and tactical nous bodes well for a team that has often stumbled near the finishing line. 

In 2016, she became the first woman in the Netherlands to be added to the backroom staff of a men’s team, when she joined Sparta Rotterdam.   

The FA Director of Women’s football Sue Campbell said, “Sarina was our number-one choice. She’s the perfect cultural fit for us, which is crucially important in building a winning team. Her technical expertise, leadership skills and winning mentality is hugely impressive. I am confident that together with our incredible support staff and ambitious, talented playing squad she can help us achieve the international success we are striving for.”

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