Sarina Wiegman The Making Of A Prolific Head Coach

Sarina Weigman
Photo Credit: AP

One of the most decorated headline acts of women’s football is current England manager Sarina Wiegman. Having landed back-to-back European Championship titles with the Netherlands and then the Lionesses, Wiegman is the hot managerial ticket at the moment.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is the next target in her sights. Can the master tactician take the Lionesses all the way to further glory there too?

Sarina Wiegman England Women’s Head Coach

Sarina Wiegman was handed the head coach role of the Lionesses in September 2021. She inherited a side that had done well, but not quite well enough in major international tournaments.

A fantastic run to the semi-finals of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, sandwiched top-four finishes at consecutive European Championships. So England had already been making strides forward in the game. But titles were eluding them. They needed to find something a little extra.

Sarina Wiegman changed all that for the Lionesses, taking the England women’s team to a whole new level. The talent pool that England have has benefitted from the growth and investment in the WPL. But it took a strong hand to steer the ship and turn the Lionesses into European champions.

Delayed European Championships victory

The most recent edition of the Women’s European Championships were held in the summer of 2022. The tournament had been held over from the previous year, when restrictions prevented it from going ahead.

But the cards fell into place for Wiegman’s England. The Lionesses had home advantage for the tournament. It was massive support that they had on their side too. England fans poured through the turnstiles at stadiums up and down the country to support their team. Premier League venues like Old Trafford, Falmer Stadium and St Mary’s drew big crowds. Their semi final against Sweden was hosted by Championship club Sheffield United.

After victories against Spain and Sweden in the knockout stages of the Euro 2022, the Lionesses would meet Germany in the Final at Wembley. Throughout the tournament, Wiegman had made strong calls about personnel, notably in their extra-time victory over Spain in the quarter-finals.

In the Final, Wiegman pulled the right cards out of her hat at the right time to get England home and dry. With the game poised 0-0 at halftime, and Germany causing England a few problems, Wiegman made a masterstroke move early in the second half.

Sarina Wiegman’s Proactive Management Style

The notable thing about Wiegman’s management style is that she doesn’t like to react. She generally makes the first move in tactical changes. It forces opponents to adapt, to play her game. It’s a brave approach, but one that the alchemist clearly understands and thrives from.

As early as the 55th minute of the Euro 2022 Final, Wiegman made changes. She sent on Ella Toone and Allesia Russo for Frank Kirby and Ellen White, the starters being established England campaigners. White is the all-time leading scorer for England Women.

But Wiegman recognised that England weren’t getting a great deal of change out of their opponents. Seven minutes after the change, substitute Ella Toone put England ahead. The match would eventually be settled with a winner from Chloe Kelly who had replaced another of England’s star players, Beth Mead.

Just to put that into context, Mead finished Euro 2022 with the Golden Boot. She was runner-up in the 2022 Women’s Ballon d’Or race as well. But Wiegman wasn’t afraid to yank her off as he had picked up a knock. Wiegman didn’t wait around to hope that Mead would ‘run it off’.

Following the Euro 2022 success, Wiegman was back in the football news headlines. When announcing her squad for some international friendlies, she made some big calls. None bigger than leaving Beth England out of the squad.

But the fact that Wiegman was willing to do that, speaks volumes about her trusting herself. It’s also a great sign that England have plenty of new talent in depth at their disposal as well, like Jess Park and Lucky Parker.

Repeat Of 2017 Success For Wiegman

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Netherlands’ head coach Sarina Wiegman talks to her players during a training session of the Netherlands Women’s soccer team at the Stade du Merlo in Oullins, outside Lyon, France, Friday, July 5, 2019. Netherlands will face US in a Women’s World Cup final match Sunday in Lyon. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

The 2022 European Championship success was a repeat of Wiegman’s Euro 2017 victory with the Netherlands. The Dutch had qualified for the tournament as hosts, but the form of the team had significantly dropped ahead of the campaign.

Wiegman replaced former head coach Arjan Van der Laan only six months ahead of Euro 2017. It wasn’t much time to work with, but Wiegman shook up everything. Under her guidance, the Dutch came out of their shell to adopt a new attack-minded approach.

They started playing with confidence. Wiegman’s Netherlands were totally unrecognisable from the team she had inherited. The Netherlands won every match at Euro 2017 and most of the time it was through sheer attacking panache. She got the best out of quality players like Shanice Van de Sande, Lieke Martens and their star player, Vivianne Miedema.

Wiegman’s Ever-Rising Stock

Winning back-to-back European Championship titles as a head coach is no fluke. But where did the journey start for Wiegman? From a coaching perspective, it started with Ter Leede before she spent seven years at ADO Den Haag.

It was from there that she started gaining recognition at the international level. Between 2014 and 2017 Wiegman was the assistant head coach of the Netherlands, filling in for a while as the interim boss.

In 2017 she was handed the permanent role of Netherlands head coach. It was one that she held for four years, culminating in her European Championship success with the Dutch. It was a rapid rise to international-level management.

Wiegman’s record with the Netherlands was P72 W52 D9 L11. It was a staggering return, a win rate of 72%. It was obvious why England were so keen to bring her across to the Lionesses. Wiegman’s international record was about to get a lot better.

England Gain Momentum With Sarina Wiegman

The 2021/22 UEFA Women’s Coach of the Year Award winner didn’t lose a single game with England from the time of taking charge to winning the European Championships. It was such a massive head of steam, such enormous momentum that she built up for England.

The wonderful, fluent attacking ethos that Wiegman had installed into the Netherlands, was put into the England setup. The goals started to flow from England, particularly against weaker teams in the 2023 World Cup qualifying.

There was an increasingly ruthless, clinical edge that Weigeman gave the England Women’s team. It was great to watch and ahead of a home major international tournament, was the tonic that the side needed to get fans behind them.

England scored 22 goals in their six 2022 European Championship matches. They conceded only two goals. Following Euro 2022, Wiegman’s England faced the reigning World Championship, the United States in a friendly.

England beat the USA 2-1, another huge lift in confidence and postive outlook for the Lionesses ahead of the 2023 World Cup. England women’s football is in very good hands for the immediate future. They will kick off at the World Cup as one of the front runners in football betting.

Sarina Wiegman The player

There was a long senior playing career for Sarina Wiegman. She had played for the North Carolina Tar Heels at the college level in the USA back in 1989. The side were crowned NCAA champions that year.

The experience gained from that time would prove to be a big factor in the future managerial career that Weigeman would have. When she moved back to the Netherlands, she realised how underdeveloped the women’s game was compared to what she had experienced in the USA.

Sarina Weigman
England’s manager Sarina Wiegman poses with the trophy after the Women’s Euro 2022 final soccer match between England and Germany at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, July 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Leila Coker)

Facilities and conditions back in her home country weren’t at the same level as the US college grade. Wiegman discovered that most of the players in the Dutch system were part-time, working other jobs. Wiegman herself did that, holding a position as a PE teacher throughout her playing career.

She wanted to change that, to bring the women’s game forward. Wiegman’s professional playing career was with Ter Leede, where a couple of Dutch Championship titles would go her way. Also during the Sarina Wiegman playing days, there was a long international career.

Sarina Wiegman’s Netherlands Playing Career

Sarina Wiegman played more than 100 times for the Netherlands throughout her career. However, her official cap record stands at 99 because some of the matches she played in were against teams that weren’t nations that were affiliated with FIFA.

At the time when she won what everyone assumed was her 100th cap, she was given a shield for the recognition of her services. Wiegman was also the first Dutch footballer to make it to the century mark.

Proving to be a leader, Wiegman also captained the Netherlands team in her career. It was an international career that started at the age of 17 when she made her debut. The Wiegman playing days though didn’t quite reach the heights of her time as a head coach.

In three successive European Championships, she made the quarter-finals of the Dutch. But no international honours would come her way. Wiegman hung up her international boots in 2001.

The Women Behind The Coach

Sarina Wiegman is married to Marten Glotzbach and they have two daughters. Wiegeman is a trailblazer. She was the first female coach in men’s football in the Netherlands when she was on the staff at Sparta Rotterdam.

Wiegman continues to bring the best attitude of the players that she coaches while inputting tactical prowess. There is a desire there to continue to break the barriers that face women in the game.

She has been through the system and has lived it all and that has given her tremendous leadership characteristics. Wiegman now stands as an influential figure in football. She is in a position to inspire future generations of players, to break down doors allowing more women to work their way into playing and into coaching.

Wigwam has already established herself as one of the best in the business. She denied extending her England contract to 2027 when sports news broke that she had. But Wiegman will be there at the helm of England’s 2023 World Cup bid in Australia and New Zealand. Greater things may yet be heading her way. The Sarina Wiegman England journey isn’t over yet.