In her exclusive column for GiveMeSport, England and Manchester City superstar Lucy Bronze looks ahead to Sarina Wiegman’s first matches in charge of the Lionesses.
I was very excited when Sarina Wiegman was appointed manager of the Lionesses. I’d already heard good things about her from my Dutch teammate at Lyon, Shanice van de Sanden, who always used to tell me how brilliant her experiences at international camp were. I never for a second thought Sarina would end up being the England manager!
Under Sarina, the Netherlands won the Euros and reached a World Cup final. That’s the success we want with England. We’ve got high hopes. We've got a talented squad, with good players in every position. Now, we've got the manager to match that.
Opening matches against Macedonia and Luxembourg
Sarina’s first games in charge will be against Macedonia and Luxembourg, as part of our qualifying campaign for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
I do think both teams are easier opponents than usual, but there’s no way the players will be going into the match thinking it will be a walkover, or reducing their work rate.
Everyone will be wanting to impress the new manager, whether it's the players picked in the starting 11 or those on the bench. They’re all playing for spots in a highly-competitive squad.
Sarina has also reminded the squad of the players missing through injury, such as myself, Ellie Roebuck and Keira Walsh. I think the players will know they have to impress and play well to have a chance of keeping themselves in the squad.
They won’t be taking their opponents too lightly – they’ll want to have a great game to make sure they’re in the plans for the Euros next year.
Style of play
The Netherlands always produce teams that like to play football. When you think about the Dutch, and their style of football, it’s total football. Think Johan Cruyff.
Sarina will bring that style of play over here. I think the current England team is actually better suited to it than the Dutch side – we have a stronger squad, and really good technical players all over the pitch, like Alex Greenwood, Keira Walsh and Fran Kirby.
Under previous England managers, there was more emphasis on being physical. But so many teams focus on that side of the game now, with everyone buying into sport science, nutrition and recovery.
If you’re going to be the best team in the world, you also have to focus on tactics and the technical side of the game. Sarina will do that, and go for total football, playing out from the back and through the thirds.
I reckon we’ll enjoy playing this type of football, and people will enjoy watching!
Preparation for Euro 2022
I think Sarina has plenty of time to stamp her style onto the England squad. We’ve got about six international camps before Euro 2022, and then the preparation camps for the tournament will be long and intense.
The FA were putting everything in place last year when Sarina was appointed as manager. She’s already spoken to every single staff member, including Hege Riise and the coaches with Britain at the Olympics, and those with England beforehand.
She’s spent a lot of time watching English players before. A lot of the Dutch players she coached featured in the Women’s Super League with English teammates, so she’s probably watched our players as much as anyone!
Sarina already knows things about the squad. She knows Leah Williamson can play in midfield, for example. We’re currently missing Keira Walsh, so we’re lacking defensive holding midfielders at the moment.
Leah is a good replacement – she’s good technically, understands the role, and is more defensive than Jill Scott, Fran Kirby or Katie Zelem. So, Sarina already knows what the options are. She’s not just starting from scratch. If anything, she’s ahead of the game.
A manager of her quality will have done her homework, and probably collated a lot of information over this past year. She’s got the experience that matches the job title, if not more, because she has achieved so much.
Sarina’s won the Euros, she’s got to the World Cup final. Hopefully she can get us to the Euro 2022 final next year.
Check out Lucy Bronze’s new website at https://lucybronze.co.uk/News Now - Sport News