It will be tough for England to better a remarkable year but that is just what Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman wants to do as she bids to ‘bring it home’ again in 2023.
With European glory and July’s thrilling Wembley victory over Germany the pinnacle of an unbeaten 2022, thoughts are now turning to next summer’s World Cup.
Winning has become a habit in a year which also saw England lift the Arnold Clark Cup in February and beat current world champions the United States in September.
Those successes have all made it the best 12 months of their coach’s working life, despite the former Netherlands boss also guiding her own country to Euros glory in 2017.
‘You can’t beat that. You can only get equal on that,’ Wiegman admitted when reflecting on 2022 at Wembley.
‘We want to win every game but we talk about how we can improve the next game. Of course, we want to break all records but breaking a record doesn’t say what you have to do.
‘How do we stick together as a team? I truly believe that’s where it starts. The players feel very comfortable with that approach. At the moment it works really well. You can tell because we are enjoying ourselves – and winning helps.’
Comparing her success with the Dutch, she said: ‘That year in 2017, from when I got appointed in January and then got into the final and we won the Euros, that was really successful and very enjoyable too but this is a little… different, even more consistent.
‘And the England team was in a different stage than the Netherlands. Here, when I got appointed, a lot of the remarks were, “Are you going to bring it home?”. And, “You’ve been brought in to win the Euros”, which is a lot of pressure.
‘(But) I think we have to get better. I think the game develops so quickly. We have to take our game to the next stage to make the chance of being successful (in Australia and New Zealand) as high as possible.
‘Yes, of course we have to dream. We’re not going to a World Cup just to play, we’re going there to win.’
After such success, even the 53-year-old could not have predicted how much this summer would change all their lives.
Wiegman added: ‘The pressure has been there all the time. There is pressure, we know, and when you win, the pressure will be higher and higher. That’s just the way it works. The concern is the players’ lives have changed a little bit.
‘Some players really adapted to the situation already. Some players need a little bit of support.
‘My concerns are; how can you balance performing at the highest level, sustaining that and what keeps us here?
‘There are a lot of things outside of football that are related to football that are asked of players now but it’s finding the balance and not getting overwhelmed.
‘Some players are really young. Within six weeks they became famous English people. Some players can’t walk down the street any more without being almost mobbed. That’s a big thing in your private life. You need time to adapt.’
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