Sarina Wegman: “You can’t beat the year we had – you can only equal it”

sAriana Wegman is told to make herself at home when she arrives at the end of the year for a session with reporters at Wembley and never misses a beat. “I’m home,” she says with a wry smile, referring to where Euro Lionesses triumph in summer.

Wiegmann believes it is hard to compare a historic Euro 2017 victory for the Netherlands, her home country, on home soil with guiding England to their first major trophy because England were at a “different stage” of their development and their expectations in the Netherlands “were much lower”. The hardest part is trying to understand how England can do better for an unbeaten year with a Euro win in their centre.

“You can’t beat that – you can only level it,” says Wiegman for 2022. “We really don’t talk about these results all the time. We want to win every game, but we do talk about how we can improve the next. How can we make sure we deliver The highest level in the next game?How can we develop our game, making our chance of winning the next game as high as possible?Of course, we want to break all the records, but breaking the record does not say what you have to do.We always repeat it: how do we stick together as a team One? I really think that’s where it starts.”

Sarina Wiegmann enjoys the moment with Jill Scott (right) and Keira Walsh at the final whistle in the Euro 2022 Final. Photo: Nigel Keane/ProSports/Shutterstock

Wegman really made her players believe that. The England team and the players on the sidelines are taken to the coach.

“We have to explain the style of play, what is expected, what role and mission the players have, and then give them the freedom to make their own decisions on the field,” Wegman says. “The players feel very comfortable with that.”

The new year brings the next challenge: the World Cup that eluded Wiegmann in 2019 when the Netherlands lost to the United States in the final. “I don’t want revenge. I’m not really a vengeful,” she says. “I don’t really think that way. At the time, they were the better team, even though I thought after half-time we could have won that game until the penalty. No, I’m not really thinking about revenge, I just want to do better.” In the next match and I want to win.

She will not tell her new bosses what it feels like to lose a World Cup final.

“If you play your best game, as the men of England did against France, [it could] It could be a win, it could be a draw, it could be a defeat, but you can be proud of yourself because you played at your highest level. You will be devastated if you don’t win, but in the end you can be proud that you did everything under your control and that is the level you have. That’s the way I do it all the time because you can’t always control the outcome because the other teams, the best teams in the world, are really, really good.

“Don’t always think about the outcome. We’re not going to a World Cup to just play, we’re going there to win. But that’s not always something you can control. I was broke against the USA, but I thought they were better at that point. I was so devastated.” When we didn’t beat the United States with the Netherlands at the Olympics because at that point we were absolutely the better team; we should have won that game.”

The task of improving 2022 and winning the World Cup has become even more daunting with the announcement that European Ballon d’Or and Golden Boot winner Beth Mead has joined a growing list of players to tear up the AFC Champions League, which will likely rule her out. The tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand in July and August.

Arsenal's Beth Meade after suffering an injury in the AFC Champions League against Manchester United in November
England may be without Beth Meade at the World Cup after the Arsenal striker suffered an injury in the AFC Champions League. Photograph: Andrew Bowers/Action Images/Reuters

“It’s so sad—I really feel for her, of course,” says Wegman, who isn’t sentimental when it comes to keeping items related to her victories but owns the T-shirt Meade gave her. “Everyone who sustains an ACL injury, you feel for him. She did so well, she was in such a good place… I hope she recovers. It’s too early to say if she will be.” [available for the World Cup]So we’re taking it easy now.”

Mead was joined in the treatment room by her partner and Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema, who tore her left leg in the Champions League match against Lyon last week.

“In general, for top players, the schedule is quite a lot,” says Wegman, when asked if the growing fixture list was piling up too much, before FIFA announced its ambitions to launch a Club World Cup. “For the best players around the world, we have five championships in a row, hopefully with the Olympics… the growth has gone very fast so players also need a proper rest to cool things down and they don’t have that rest.

“After the Euros, for example, the Manchester City players only had two days off because they went to the Champions League again. It’s not good. You can have that sometimes, but they need a rest. They need some rest just because Getting head space and getting the head and body right. I think FIFA, UEFA and the federations just need to do a better job and everyone thinks about the players.”

FIFA’s rejection of requests to increase squad size from 23 players to 26 for next year’s World Cup to help lift the load is “extremely disappointing”. “We were told there were some who didn’t want it increased but the group of coaches I spoke with at the draw wanted it increased,” says Wegman, who adds that she will move additional players into camps before the tournament in the event of a late injury.

The situation is not clear because “in Europe, our infrastructure is really good [set up] … Other continents are really struggling with getting good domestic matches, so their need is to get more international matches. We don’t need more international matches because we have very good domestic competitions.

“It makes it complicated, and I still think we can do a better job talking to each other and trying to make it good for everyone. It’s the same here when we talk about the Women’s Premier League table.

“You have to look at what your philosophy is, what your vision is and then you have to prioritize and you have to make choices. And you have to dare to make choices as well.

And then you can’t keep everyone happy — that’s impossible in life. As long as there’s a vision behind that, you can argue [for the choices] Manufactured.”

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