Wiegman claims winning home Euros with England ‘harder’ than 2017 win
The new England women’s team manager, Sarina Wiegman, has said that winning the home Euros next summer will be “much harder” than her victory with the Netherlands in 2017.
Wiegman named her first England squad this week and starts with World Cup qualifiers at home to North Macedonia next Friday and away to Luxembourg the following Tuesday. Addressing the country’s media for the first time, she said her triumph with the Netherlands, who were also hosts, was not a signpost to likely events next July.
“I think to win the tournament is much harder,” she said. “In 2017, of course, Germany was the most expected winner because they won it six times in a row and then the Netherlands won it.
“The countries are so close in level in Europe. So close that it’s really hard to win and strange things happen. We’ve seen it, in the Olympics [with Canada winning gold], we have seen it at the Euros [with the Netherlands winning]. So you can’t predict it, you just have to make sure that you’re at the best level you can be and get everything out of the team and individuals.”
The 51-year-old comes in with an impressive resumé. After guiding the Netherlands to the Euro 2017 title she helped them to the World Cup final in 2019, where they lost to the USA, and an Olympic quarter-final this summer, in which they were beaten by the USA in extra time. The decision to swap her country for the England job was difficult, she said.
“I really had to think about that because I’ve played in the US but I’ve been in the Netherlands my whole life, but you’re not going to be the coach of one team for the rest of your life – there comes a point when you have to change.
“After I talked to Sue Campbell [the Football Association’s director or women’s football] I got really excited and thought: ‘OK, now I need to think about it.’ So I took some time to think about it and I got even more excited. She triggered me. It’s such a big country, such a big football country with a huge history, a big competition and huge potential of players. They are always in the top of the rankings and I thought this was a challenge I wanted to take.”
Wiegman, who will be commuting between the Netherlands and England as she prepares the team for the Euros across six international breaks, said the impact of the tournament would also be different from her experience in 2017 because the game is further developed in England.
“At that time, we said we want to win the heart of the Dutch, because we weren’t visible,” she said. “People didn’t know, we weren’t accepted. But there was a lot of ‘Oh women play?’ discussion and then we said: ‘We have to show all the Dutch that we can play really well.’
“If you play well, you’re going to win games. If you play well [but] you lose two games you’re not going to win the hearts, so it’s all combined with winning … Here, England is already so big and there’s so much attention already so you’re not going to say we want to win the hearts of England now we just have to [win].”
She criticised the idea of a biennial Women’s World Cup. “For Europe it is not necessary. It is about visibility but I also think we need to take care of the wellbeing of the players and sometimes they need a rest … You don’t want two tournaments [men’s and women’s] at the same time because people are going to have to choose.”