During the preparation for the EC, the English fans were already full of praise for Sarina Wiegman and the national coach who led the Orange to EC gold in 2017 has only become more popular due to the series of victories in recent weeks. On Sunday, Germany expects a sold-out Wembley in the final. “The culture has changed because of her.”
“The English supporters love Wiegman,” says BBC analyst Emma Sanders to NU.nl. “Not many coaches in England have got all the fans together.”
This popularity is, as is often the case in football, explained by the fantastic results. Wiegman’s England, after an excellent preparation (where, among other things, the Netherlands were beaten 5-1) at this European Championship decided against Austria (1-0), Norway (8-0), Northern Ireland (5-0), Spain (2- 1) and Sweden (4-0).
Only in the match against Spain were the ‘Lion winners’ put with their backs against the wall. Thanks to Wiegman’s golden substitutions, a final offensive resulted in a semi-final place for the English.
The streak naturally adds to the frenzy in England, although Wiegman seems to bring something extra. “She engages with the fans and encourages the England players to take advantage of the crowd. She tries to build momentum with the supporters.”
Sarina Wiegman in conversation with fans during a training of the ‘Lionesses’.
Wiegman dares to make difficult decisions
En route to success against Spain, Wiegman brought Alessia Russo and Ella Toone into the squad after conceding a goal. The two substitutes brought energy to the England team, which was cornered by Spain.
“She has selected the same eleven for every game, so the team has a clear game plan and way of playing. But she is not afraid to make difficult decisions if necessary,” Sanders refers to Wiegman’s intervention in this crucial moment.
According to 139-time orange international player Daphne Koster, it is causing even more madness in England that it did not go smoothly in the game against Spain. “The level in the countries is high. It’s great to see. And the opposition England faced in the match against Spain only makes the tournament even more beautiful for the English.”
On Sunday, the ‘Lionesses’ led by Wiegman will play the EC final against Germany at a sold-out Wembley (almost 90,000 spectators). In England, the supporters have been singing the familiar song since they reached the European Championship final Football is on its way home. In England it is expected chief Wiegman will make history during the final tournament.
With England already known for so many disappointments at major tournaments (for men and women), there is a lot of pressure on Wiegman’s shoulders. “There was a danger that she would not live up to expectations, but the opposite is true. She is everything the fans, the FA and the media hoped she would be. The culture has changed because of her,” Sanders says. the impact of Wiegman, who made his name by leading the Netherlands to EC gold and WC silver in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
Wiegman embraces his assistant Arjan Veurink after the win over Spain.
A leader who radiates calmness and is ruthless
Wiegman’s leadership was already visible in her younger years. “She used to be one of the leaders when we played together in Ter Leede, the club from Sassenheim,” says Koster. Not only Wiegman is an important asset for the English success. “We must not forget assistant coach Arjan Veurink, they really do it as a duo.”
What characterizes Wiegman is her calmness. Even when the team is under pressure, the coach knows how to give the players confidence in peace. “She keeps them calm. The players are much more relaxed and confident than they’ve ever been,” notes Sanders.
In addition to Wiegman’s calmness, her recklessness is also praised. “She is not afraid to make difficult decisions. All changes have produced the desired result.” Before the start of the EC, Wiegman decided to remove former captain Steph Houghton from the selection and named Leah Williamson as her successor.
The England women are playing this tournament at the peak of their abilities, partly because of Wiegman’s intervention. Wiegman lets the ‘lionesses’ play to their strengths, according to Sanders. “The play style is more creative, more fluid and a bit more brutal than before.”
Captain Leah Williamson celebrates after defeating Spain in the quarter-finals.
‘Wiegman works on it day and night’
The statistics in England under Wiegman will cause nervousness among opponents. The team scored 104 goals in 19 games. More importantly, seventeen of those duels resulted in a victory, and the other two matches ended in draws.
Despite these fantastic results, the coach remains silent when the subject of ‘European Championship victory’ comes up. “This is typical Sarina. It all appears as a kind of surprise, a kind of magic,” says Koster.
After the 8-0 win over Norway (the biggest ever at a European Championship), Wiegman let it be known that she did not understand how England could win with those numbers. “It seems like she doesn’t know how something like this comes about, but she knows what she’s doing. She’s really busy playing day and night,” says Koster.
Should Wiegman win the tournament on Sunday, she would become the second manager in the history of English football to win a major tournament after 56 years, after Alf Ramsey with the men in 1966. “She would be a legend if England win Sanders emphasizes. “You can expect the fans to honor her in some way.”
The EC final between England and Germany starts on Sunday at 18:00 Dutch time.
Results Sarina Wiegman in final tournaments
- European champion – EC 2017 – Dutch national team
- Vice world champion – WC 2019 – Dutch national team
- Quarter-final Olympic Games – 2021 – Dutch national team
- Final European Championship – European Championship 2022 – England’s national team