FA wants Wieg­man to turn Eng­land into tour­na­ment win­ners

Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­gin to land suc­cess­ful Dutch man­ager Coach pro­motes at­tack­ing foot­ball and tac­ti­cal flex­i­bil­ity

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport / Football - By Katie Why­att

Sa­rina Wieg­man, the Hol­land Women man­ager, has emerged as the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s pre­ferred choice to suc­ceed Phil Neville as Eng­land head coach, The Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands.

The FA is in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the for­mer Hol­land mid­fielder who, in 2001, be­came the first Dutch foot­baller to reach 100 caps. She over­saw her coun­try’s 2017 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship-win­ning team, as well as the side who lost to the United States in the World Cup fi­nal last sum­mer. She has a con­tract with the Dutch FA un­til 2021.

A key ne­go­ti­at­ing point is thought to be whether Wieg­man, 50, will be ap­pointed be­fore the resched­uled Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and man­age the Great Bri­tain team.

The Tele­graph re­vealed on Mon­day that, of the fi­nal two can­di­dates – the other thought to be two-time World Cup-win­ning for­mer US coach Jill El­lis – one wanted to lead the Team GB side in Ja­pan, while the other did not.

Neville – who an­nounced in April his in­ten­tion to step down from the post fol­low­ing the ex­piry of his con­tract – is con­tracted un­til July 2021 and has been in­volved in the search for his suc­ces­sor. There is still a pos­si­bil­ity he could take charge of Team GB: as the per­for­mance lead for foot­ball, the English FA nom­i­nates the Team GB coach but this does not have to be the Eng­land man­ager.

The FA, how­ever, is unTot­ten­ham der­stood to be aware that Neville may have moved into an­other job in foot­ball by then.

The gov­ern­ing body re­vealed last month that in ex­cess of 140 peo­ple had ap­plied for the job.

After she was ap­pointed per­ma­nent head coach of Hol­land in Jan­uary 2017, months be­fore the coun­try was due to host the Women’s Eu­ros, Wieg­man was cred­ited with restor­ing the morale of a team who had been los­ing re­peat­edly and who failed to qual­ify for the Rio Olympics.

She had been as­sis­tant to Ar­jan van der Laan, who was sacked in De­cem­ber 2016, and fol­low­ing his de­par­ture, Wieg­man spear­headed a switch to a more at­tack­ing brand of foot­ball.

Euro 2017 marked Hol­land’s first ma­jor women’s hon­our in an in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment.

Their bright­est at­tack­ing tal­ents – in­clud­ing Arse­nal’s Vi­vianne Miedema, Barcelona’s Lieke Martens and Manch­ester United’s Jackie Groe­nen – are now among the coun­try’s most recog­nis­able ath­letes, blos­som­ing in a stylish side who have ben­e­fited from their man­ager’s tac­ti­cal flex­i­bil­ity. They have proved the per­fect blend of flair and prag­ma­tism, swift on the counter-at­tack and quick in tran­si­tion.

By 2014, she had be­come the as­sis­tant man­ager at the na­tional team, study­ing for her Uefa Pro Li­cense in the after­math of their exit from the 2015 World Cup. Since then, Hol­land have risen to fourth in the Fifa rank­ings – with a high of third.

After the 2019 World Cup near-miss, the Dutch FA an­nounced plans to erect a sculp­ture of Wieg­man in its gar­den of fame to mark her suc­cess.

Win­ning pedi­gree: Sa­rina Wieg­man has emerged as the FA’s pre­ferred can­di­date to re­place Phil Neville as Eng­land Women man­ager

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