England women’s coach sees gap closing with U.S.

Recently appointed England women’s coach Sarina Wiegman is adamant the gap is closing on their United States counterparts and insists the four-time World Cup champions are beatable.

Wiegman was appointed as Phil Neville‘s successor last week and will take up the post in September 2021 after the delayed Tokyo Olympics. Before then, she will continue her post as coach of the Netherlands where she guided them to the 2017 European Championships title and steered them to the World Cup final in 2019.

Netherlands’ charge to a maiden World Cup was halted by the USWNT as they won the final 2-0 to secure their second title in a row and their fourth overall.

Wiegman’s mission with England women, having signed a four-year deal, is to lead them to their first major title.

And when asked if it was realistic the U.S. can be defeated at the next World Cup in 2023, Wiegman responded: “Yes, I think so. Of course the history of the U.S. is awesome, but I think other countries can beat them.

“It’s one game and in Europe the game is improving so much. We get closer and closer and the U.S. knows that they have to improve their game too. Not only England but the Dutch, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain is developing. Countries are getting closer and closer together.”

Wiegman has not yet spoken to the England players about taking the job and will wait until she has officially succeeded Neville before starting to have an influence on the team.

Wiegman said: “Phil [Neville] has responsibility for the upcoming 12 months and I’ll absolutely respect that. I’ll get some information, but I’ll be in the background and the last thing I’d want to do is interfere with his work.

“Of course I will have a close look but I’ll jump in in 2021. I have the responsibility of the Dutch national team, that’s my main focus. But I’ll get some information and in the future, there will of course be a transition between jobs and I’ll speak to Phil.”

Wiegman was speaking at her official unveiling as the Lionesses’ new boss and she was welcomed by the Football Association’s director of women’s football Baroness Sue Campbell. Baroness Campbell has been impressed by Wiegman’s personality, labelling her a “people person,” and described her as “steely” while praising her winning mentality.

Wiegman’s immediate challenge is to steer the Netherlands into the 2020 Olympics next July and while there is a chance her side could meet Team GB in the final, she insists there will be no conflict of interest.

“I love my job,” Wiegman said. “Ten years ago, there was no opportunity for me to be a professional coach and look where I am now. We’ve had a great journey with the Netherlands, I’m very happy to be the coach of the Dutch national team and that we’ll play the Olympics.

“But I think when I can work with the England team, that’s a world-class team and world-class situation I’m in. I’m very happy to be part of that and that I can bring my knowledge and experience to the team.”