The Netherlands’ head coach, Sarina Wiegman, is the Football Association’s preferred choice to succeed Phil Neville as manager of England Women.
The 50-year-old has emerged as the frontrunner to lead the Lionesses into a home Euros in 2021 and then the World Cup in 2023, after 79 of the 142 applicants were deemed to have met the minimum criteria set out by the FA for the role.
Wiegman is believed to be favoured over Jill Ellis, who won the World Cup twice as head coach of the US women’s national team before stepping down in October 2019. Though Ellis’s salary expectations are thought to have been higher than Wiegman’s, it is unlikely this will be a deciding factor when the FA comes to make a decision.
That is despite the financial struggles of the organisation, with the head of women’s football, Sue Campbell, very publicly determined to secure the best candidate after a number of experienced candidates withdrew from the process which followed the sacking of Mark Sampson, resulting in them unexpectedly sounding out Neville. That has been reflected in the decision of the FA to keep open the possibility of the new coach also leading Team GB into next summer’s postponed Olympics.
A potential sticking point with Wiegman is her possible desire to stay on to manage the Netherlands in the Olympics before joining England. Ellis, by contrast, is available now.
Wiegman’s recent credentials include having led the Netherlands to an odds-defying triumph at the 2017 Euros on home soil (including a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of England in the semi-final) and, despite a shaky start, a World Cup final appearance in France last summer.
But Wiegman’s pedigree runs deeper than that. The first Dutch player to reach 100 caps, at college in North Carolina she played under the man credited with having established the much admired “winning mentality” of the US women’s national team, Anson Dorrance, who led the US to a first World Cup victory in 1991 just five years into the team’s existence.
She has also coached in men’s football, and has an understanding of the Women’s Super League with a number of the Netherlands’ top players plying their trade in England’s professional top flight, including the country’s record goalscorer Vivianne Miedema.
The FA announced in April that Neville would not extend his contract when it expires next summer. Due to postponements of major tournaments because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he will miss out on managing at the Olympics and in the Euros.